Shelter in place and stay at home orders have had a far reaching impact across our nation and world. Never before in history has there been such a lengthy and all encompassing stay at home order. If we weren’t living through this experience, we might more easily believe that this is just the plot of another Hollywood sci-fi thriller series, except for the fact that Hollywood is also shut down and sheltering in place.
Relationships, which are the fabric of our being, have been limited to technological means or some vestige of social distancing picnics or driveway talks. It is in times like these and other historical disasters that we truly come to embrace and realize the importance of connection, especially the connection of family.
One of the greatest gifts that the Lord bestows to His image bearers is the gift of family. One of the imprints of God’s design is the desire for communion. He provides fulfilment for this desire through the family. It is through the family that humanity grows and flourishes. The Lord uses the idea of family throughout His Word to show His grace, His kindness, and His salvation. He told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation and that if he could number the stars, then he would be able to count the number of his “descendants” or family members.
Similarly, the Lord uses the beautiful imagery of adoption into family throughout the New Testament in Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and Galatians 3 and 4 to show that He is creating a multi-ethnic family who would care and provide for one another. Consequently, in Acts 2 and 4 when believers come to faith in Christ and are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, they immediately begin providing for the needs of others.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” Acts 4:32-35
The family is God’s institution for human flourishing. When we operate in loving harmony with a husband nourishing his wife through leadership and a wife respecting her husband in deference to Christ, we are showing the world that we are truly pro-life. When we have healthy, God-fearing families, we begin to see a picture of health which will show justice of the Kingdom of God to the world. Our healthy families create confident children and strong churches. Our families are the support we need to make it through a pandemic and every single day.
While the pandemic has been much more economically and physically challenging for many people, it has also been difficult for those who have had their lives rearranged including high school and college seniors, parents who are homeschooling and working from home, as well as those with canceled events or special occasions. However, this time has also provided excellent times for family flourishing including family meals and games, opportunities to share hopes and dreams, and moments in which we celebrate one another even in simple ways. Family has been restored as the centerpiece of human flourishing.
In his essay on March 28 for The Wall Street Journal, W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies, said, “in times of trial and tribulation, most people—and most spouses—don’t become more self-centered, they become more other-centered, more cognizant of how much they need their family members to navigate difficult and dark times. In post-Covid-19 America, I’m confident that the family-first model of marriage will gain ground.”
Husbands and wives and moms and dads, you will mess up and you will fail as sure as the sun will set, but you need each other, and your children need the protection of your families. You must be quick to show your children repentance, and must ask not only the Lord for forgiveness, but also ask your children for forgiveness for your hypocrisy. As parents, our children need our authenticity and our presence. Boys and girls created in the image of God do not need perfect earthly parents, but they need the imperfect parents they were assigned by God who are faithfully and genuinely living by faith on a daily basis.
Marriage and family were meant to protect and provide for God’s image bearers, especially women and children. Let me be clear, biblical marriage is never to be interpreted as a call for wives or children to endure abuse, ever. Men, we must always protect our wives and children from abuse as well as single women, battered wives, abused children, and orphans. Our families are meant to be the safe haven of flourishing that will help us make it through this pandemic and those which are yet to come.
“Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘us,’ that we forget about our obligations to one another. There’s a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft ― that we can’t show weakness, and so therefore we can’t show kindness. But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down – you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility as fathers.” – President Barack Obama