Summary: Hollywood has been trying to change our idea of what forms the ideal family. But God's Word doesn't change and Paul has given us instructions for how to strive to have the ideal family. Consider these thoughts from our Family Minister Scott Jewell.
This summer, we’ve been taking advantage of the # trend. We looked at #fakenews through the book of James and now we’re exploring the idea #lifegoals. Jeff taught about friendships and relationships last week. Today we’re exploring the concept of the ideal family.
Over the past half century or so, Hollywood has tried to use television to promote their concept of the ideal family. (While showing a picture of each family) The first picture is of the Cleaver family from Leave it to Beaver. A good, nuclear family- both parents are present, the kids got themselves in trouble but they learned to grow up with respect for their parents. The Brady family began stretching the definition of family as they blended two families together, though they still worked together through the pains and struggles of family.
Then you get to the Bundy family of Married with Children. A general lack of respect was prevalent in this family, whether between the parents or from the children. The Gilmore Girls portrayed three generations where the grandparents set impossible expectations that their daughter rebelled against, the father of her child is only around in times of emergency, and both the daughter and her child are trying to figure out who’s the right guy for each of them. Most recently, TV has presented the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan in Modern Family. You’ve got an older man who married a young Latina and it’s pretty clear that it’s about physical attraction as they’re raising two boys. His daughter is married to a man who is portrayed to be quite incompetent as plan after plan falls through. Their children are constantly scheming, using their various talents to see what they can get away with. His son is in a homosexual marriage and they’ve adopted an Oriental daughter. All this in an effort to show these things as normal, but it’s definitely not ideal.
So who does the Bible depict as the ideal family? It starts with Adam and Eve. Of course, they committed the first sin and one of their sons commits murder. Abraham tells kings that his wife Sarah was his sister (he wasn’t exactly lying) and Sarah gave Abraham her maidservant so he’d have kids. Isaac and Rebekah each had their favorite between Jacob and Esau, resulting in Jacob tricking Esau and fleeing for his life. Then there was Jacob and Rachel (and Leah and Zipah and Bilhah) where the sibling rivalry got so bad that Joseph was sold off into slavery. King David, a man after God’s own heart, had multiple wives and even had an affair with Bathsheba. His son Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. The prophet Hosea was commanded by God to marry a prostitute and continue to pursue her even when she returned to her ways of the nightlife. Now, you’d think Jesus, the Son of God, would have the ideal family. After all, He came to set the example, live a life of perfection, and die on our behalf. His earthly father, Joseph, was out of the picture sometime after Jesus turned 12. At one point, His mother and brothers came to take Him home because they thought He’d gone crazy with some kind of messiah complex.
There simply is NO example of the ideal family to be found in the Bible. Why not? I believe it’s part of the genius of God. He made families from imperfect people, therefore families are imperfect. This helps us see that the biblical accounts are authentic and reliable. God doesn’t sugarcoat things and make His heroes out to perfect, but portrays them with all their faults and foibles. There ARE, however, instructions given for how we can strive for our families to become more ideal. (Read Ephesians 5:22-6:4)
If we’re going to look at the ideal family, we’ve got to look at this idea of submit. We hear Ephesians 5:22 and the married men (especially the young ones) cheer as their wives shake their heads thinking here we go again. Part of this reaction comes from how the people who translated the Bible into English added the verse numbers and headings for reference. I want you to look at the previous paragraph, hold your finger over the heading, and read as if the heading isn’t there. (Read Ephesians 4:15-22 then comment that Paul continues.) Here’s how unfortunate this heading placement is- the English word “submit” isn’t in the Greek in verse 22, it’s pulled from verse 21, where Paul commands mutual submission.
Now, if I were in a language arts class and asked to outline Paul’s last couple of chapters to the Ephesians, here’s what I’d get (display the following outline on the screen) and I searched far and wide for an English Language Arts teacher (my wife) to confirm I’d done it correctly. She corrected a couple formatting things for me, so these are the final results.