Summary: God's way it to transform "frenemy" relationships into friendship relationships.

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Title: The Frenemy Dysfunction

Text Genesis 37:1-4 and 12-28

Thesis: God’s way is to transform “frenemy” relationships into friendship relationships.


Popular culture likes to portray a dysfunctional family as endearing. Three well worn examples might be the Connor family featured on Roseanne; or the Bundy family on Married with Children living in Chicago and running approximately the same time as Roseanne; and there was the Foreman family of the70’s Show, set in a fictitious place in Wisconsin.

The animated family we know as the Simpsons is equally challenged. Homer has less than ideal parenting skills, Bart is the under-achiever and his sister Lisa is a neurotic vegetarian. The mother, Marge Simpson shows signs of deep-seeded depression. And Maggie, the baby of the family, has been sucking on a pacifier for 20 years.

But their antics are nothing compared to the dysfunction of some of the families in the bible. Beginning with Adam and Eve and their children we have deceit, jealousy and murder. In the story of Jacob and Esau we have the story of parental favoritism, deceit, deception, sibling rivalry and estrangement. King David did not fare well in wives or children. He may have been a man after God’s own heart and a great king but he managed to raise a world class dysfunctional family. Some might say, “the bible consistently portrays the family, not as a Norman Rockwell group, beaming with gratitude around a Thanksgiving turkey, but as a series of broken relationships in need of redemption.” (Dave, Goetz from Eugene H. Peterson, Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager, Eerdmans, 1994, pp. 110-111)

The wiki people say a dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior and even abuse on the part of individual family members occur continually and regularly, leading other members of the family to accommodate such actions.

I’ve heard that there is no kind of family in existence other than dysfunctional ones. I do not believe that to be true. However, I don’t believe that every family that considers itself “functional” as opposed to “dysfunctional” is…

• You’ve all heard the saying, “Relatives are like fish. After three days they start stinking.”

• George Burns once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family… in another city.”

• I once heard comedian Jeff Foxworthy comment to the effect that whenever he gets to thinking his family is dysfunctional, he just goes to the state fair and watches people until he begins to realize that he must be royalty.

While family dysfunction may amuse us on some level there is nothing amusing about the level of dysfunction in our story today. It is the story of Joseph. And it is not the story sung in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Our story today is not a family friendly musical.

Our story today is about a tragically dysfunctional family.

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