It’s no secret that Christians really enjoy talking about family. Our Sunday mornings are practically bursting with sermons extolling the importance of the nuclear family, the beauty of marriage, and the blessing of childbirth. There are entire ministries built around the concept of “family”, and even Christian entertainment often refers to itself as “family friendly”. To the outsider, this emphasis must be truly baffling. Why are Christians so obsessed with this one facet of daily life?
Author and pastor Scott Sauls hoped to answer this question in a recent article for Relevant Magazine. Sauls began by explaining how God created family as a model of His relationship with humanity. He writes,
“The Bible does have a lot to say about the significance of the family structure. Family is the chief biblical metaphor to describe how God relates to us. God is our Father and we are His children. Jesus is husband and we are His Bride, the Church. ‘We are our Beloved’s, and our Beloved is ours,’ says Solomon’s Song.”
“The marriage between a man and a woman, in the purest sense, is a pointer to and picture of the love between Christ and the Church. In our shared union with Christ, we are also sisters and brothers to each other.”
However, Sauls also believes the intense focus Christians have placed on “family” has wrecked untold damage within the Church. One example he gives is the marginalization and ostracizing of singles,
“Rather than feed the false view that the single life is the unfulfilled life, the Church must renew its vision for singleness as a high and honored calling—one that was shared by the Apostle Paul and Jesus, no less—that positions uncoupled men and women to serve God’s Kingdom with unhindered focus, creativity and zeal.”
Another group which was briefly touched on were the divorced. Many Christians who have experienced a broken marriage generally find they have no place within the church. They are regarded as failures, or “less faithful” because they broke the sacred bonds of family. In a devastating piece by Janet Thompson, the author recalls how her divorce excluded her from a place in fellowship. She writes,
“The best gift you can give a divorced person is community. We feel alone, broken, devastated, and struggle to make all our life decisions alone. We need you to treat us with grace and, even more, to invite us into your homes and to come into our homes. Welcome us into the family of God. Remind us often with your words and actions that we are not broken, but whole in the body of Christ.”
Families are a wonderful, important part of the Christian life, but they are not the end-all and be-all of our faith. Christ is present in the life of every believer, be they single, celibate, divorced, or widowed. When we place “family” and “marriage” at the front of our Church, we only create more orphans in Christ’s Kingdom. Instead, we need to set a place for everyone at God’s table. We need to become a family in Christ.
What about you? Do you think Christians put too much emphasis on family? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com