The 17th century English Puritan Richard Baxter once said “So goes the family, so goes the church so goes the nation.” In other words, the success or failure of a nation depends on the foundational structure of the family. If families are healthy and strong then, a society and nation flourishes. However, if the condition of the family is weak or ailing then, society and culture at large is bound to fail.
In 2016, the condition of the family has not improved. In fact, it has gotten worse. Currently according to some statistics, the divorce rate is well above 40%, 64% of children born with millennial mothers are born out of wed-lock and into fatherless homes, there are more kids in foster care than ever before, and to top it all off parenthood is discouraged by way of “choice”. In all the political rhetoric of having a greater economy than China, or energizing the young people by talking about student debt, I have not heard any one talk about the real need of this country, and that is the need to strengthen the family. As a pastor who lives in a community and deals with families on a very intimate level, the lack of productive discussion concerns me. If we are to make “America great again”, then it has to begin in the home.
By the time you are reading this, many of us have already celebrated Mother’s Day. It is the nationally recognized holiday where we set aside a day to honor mothers. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are not just a day for Hallmark to sell cards, rather they represent something that is deeply part of our society. Family is what unites all of us together. Good or bad, we have all come from a family and are a part of a family. So if family is woven in the very fabric of our lives, both individually and corporately, how do we begin to go about strengthening such a foundational institution?
Firstly, we must understand the value of family. The familial relationship is not just designed as a necessity for survival as some would assert. To say that the only reason why family exists is to promote certain specific genetic traits that the parents deem (by instinct) to be valuable, puts a far lesser significance on the role of family then what it is intended to be. The family is valuable because God created the family.
Out of all of the institutions that God created, the family came first. Immediately after we see the creation of man in Genesis chapter 2, we see woman formed and then the mandate to fill the earth by way of having children. If the creation of the family by God himself wasn’t enough to show its significance, then the incarnation of Christ is the apex of God demonstrating the value of the family. Out of all the ways that the Son of God could have picked to enter into His creation, he chose to be born of a woman and thus enter into a family.
Now if God deems the family to be important, then shouldn’t it be incumbent upon us to see its importance also? Of course, as stated earlier, if the foundation of our society is tearing apart what do you think is going to happen in our communities? Anyone with a small bit of knowledge about construction knows if the foundation of a building is crumbling then the entire structure is suspect and will topple in a matter of time. We correct the downward trajectory that our society is heading in, by first getting our priorities straight. It is not enough to labor for a better economy, or for climate change, rather we must strive to aid in the health and well –being of families. A neglect of this, to quote Baxter once again, “will undo all.”