Are some families cursed with bad luck? Why do so many families fall apart?
A few days ago I began to think about Christian Families and how the Bible lays out plans for what a Christian Family ought to be. The Bible is certainly not silent on the matter of how families should be managed. Instead, within the Bible are instructions for how to choose a spouse, how to manage the family finances, how to raise children and even what to do after the children have gone out of the home.
Yet with all of these instructions, many families seem to struggle. Why?
They could be cursed.
Sin produced a curse and this curse affected every relationship. It still does. The relationship between husband and wife has been cursed. The relationship between parents and children as been cursed by sin. Siblings are under the same curse. Family life is difficult because of this curse. What can be done about it?
Let me be a bit more clear about the nature of this curse. Only one type of relationship is directly cursed by God because of sin. Here is what Genesis says:
“To the woman He (God) said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.””
This is the only curse directly placed by God on a relationship within the family. What it means is that a woman’s desire is for her husband instead of God. This misplaced desire can become a controlling factor for the woman and can also be exploited by men.
Women whose lives are controlled by a desire to please men are living futile existences. Men are not going to be satisfied easily, if ever. Even if satisfaction could be achieved, what would it cost? The woman whose life is controlled by this desire becomes less than she was meant to be. Sadly, there are men who are happy to allow themselves to be desired by women in a way which is manipulative. Countless lives have been damaged by this manipulation.
The original picture of men and women is that they stood together, side-by-side. Together they served God and filled His mandate to rule the earth and to be fruitful and multiply. Sin changed all of this and the relationship became something else entirely. The curse means these relationships are distorted. An easy place to look for evidence is advertising. What is it advertisers appeal to in women in order to persuade them to purchase a product? Their desire to be attractive to men. What is it advertisers appeal to in men in order to persuade them to purchase a product? Their demand to be attractive to women.
Under the curse, a husband and wife do not operate as one unit but as two competing creatures. This competition is not necessarily mean-spirited or even conscious. Rather, having been distorted by sin and selfishness, the husband and wife fight for the fulfilment of their desires even at the cost of their relationship.
What is the antidote?
First, the only way to begin to make a Christian Family is to make the family members into Christians. This is not a behaviour modification exercise. This is not a plea for nicer husbands and more subservient wives. Such changes would not produce a Christian Family and attempting them would likely result in divorce due to unrealistic expectations. Instead, the people must become genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. They must come to know the meaning of these words of Paul:
“Your attitiude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
If a husband and wife can grasp, individually, God’s requirement for them to live and act as Christ did then there is hope. Once someone becomes a Christian the curse of sin is removed. Yet the patterns of behaviour often remain. The way to correct these patterns begins with the transformation of heart which occurs during genuine Christian conversion.
Second, family members who are genuinely Christian can be called to live according to Christ’s standards. Here is something else Paul wrote:
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Mutual submission will bring two people together. Where there was selfish competition there could be helpful sacrifice. A husband and wife could learn, if they will follow Christ, to always put the other person’s wellness in front of their own.
This is how a Christian Family can avoid being a cursed family. Sacrifice, love and submission.