We Need Each Other
“Everyone requires a social network to satisfy the human need to be cared for, accepted, and emotionally supported, particularly in times of stress. Research has shown that strong social support may significantly improve recovery from both physical and mental illnesses. Changes in society have diminished the traditional support once offered by neighbors and families. As an alternative, self-help groups and mutual aid groups have sprung up throughout the country” (Merck Manual Online).
For the Christian, there is nothing novel in this observation. First, we recognize the divine origin, structure and sanctity of the “nuclear family” as outlined in Scripture:
*“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gn 2:24).
*“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt 19:6).
*“Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything … let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:24, 33).
*“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it … Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph 5:25, 28).
*“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4).
*“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Eph 6:1-3).
* “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
Keywords for marriages: Commitment, devotion, love, respect, companionship; self-sacrifice, stability, peace, comfort, support (what others would you add??). Healthy, scripturally-modeled marriages are the places where spouses find security and acceptance; where trust calms and grows the spirit; where two people achieve more as a couple than each could do alone. Debilitating anxieties such as fear, loneliness, boredom, rejection and failure are lessened or erased altogether by the sharing and support of the partner. This is why it is so devastating when adultery or divorce intrudes: It shatters the innocent person’s world. It inflicts emotional trauma which is the breeding ground of spiritual and psychological ailments.
Keywords for families: Love, self-sacrifice, nurture, guidance, correction, education, security, affirmation, peace (others??). With a life-committed couple comes a stable foundation for children to be raised. Effective nurturing of children requires two emotionally-secure parents working together; steady guidance; praise and punishment; training in Scriptural knowledge and application. When parents bicker and fight; when favoritism is shown; when divorce destroys family cohesion; when discipline gives way to constant praise (or praise withers amid constant criticism); when step-parents and step-siblings enter the picture; when concern for secular education, worldly activities and material possessions are the primary focus, problems are certain to arise. Since our society regularly violates Biblical family values, it should not surprise us that children act out, rebel, pierce and tattoo themselves, get lost in an online world, question their gender, develop a permissive, entitled outlook on life.
The Merck article acknowledges societal shortcoming: “Changes in society have diminished the traditional support once offered by neighbors and families.” They seem reluctant to define those “changes”: Adultery, divorce; homosexual unions and parenthood; drinking/drugs; parents preoccupied with themselves rather than their children; parents who give their children things instead of themselves; parents who won’t correct but coddle and excuse their children’s bad behavior; parents who push their young children into “gender dysphoria,” etc. “Family” is meaningless; it has been broadened to include two men/children; two women/children; “blended” groups – whatever configuration suits one’s fancy.
The Merck article continues, “As an alternative …” An alternative?! An alternative to what? They wouldn’t dare say, “An alternative to God’s pattern for families,” for our culture believes that the Bible is totally irrelevant to modern life. So they weakly acknowledge the death of the “traditional” ways and promote seeking an alternative. We keep trashing God’s blueprints, redrawing our own and building family groups that collapse under the strain of life. “Self-help” and “mutual aid” groups will never meet human needs like the family God designed.
This principle also extends to the local church. We also need to be part of a spiritual family. God directs that we be intimately joined with our spiritual fellows; that we love, serve, worship with, study and discuss God’s word; share our burdens and challenges; support each other in times of disappointment, tragedy and brokenness. When two people who love the same Lord, believe the same truths, live for the same hopes, fight the same enemy and share the same worldview open their hearts to one another, it brings great strength, comfort and courage. But society thinks this is all passe, so we continue the search for an alternative. How’s that working?