Family provides an environment to flourish
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10: 6-9
Jesus was the ultimate advocate for the family unit. In fact, Jesus invented the family unit, it didn’t originate from man’s thoughts but in the mind of God. When Jesus walked the earth the orthodox religious Jews of the day, the Pharisee’s questioned Jesus about the importance of marriage. When Jesus asked the Pharisee’s what Moses had commanded them they said,
“Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
Jesus reveals that due to the hardness of the human heart Moses had permitted divorce, however it was never God’s original plan for mankind for divorce to exist. Then referring to the book of Genesis, Jesus quoted scripture saying,
God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.
And then he makes a huge, bold statement when he says,
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Clearly here Jesus is saying that marriage is an institution created by God, and that divorce has been permitted because sin has entered the world. But God’s plan and intent for marriage is for it to be a permanent covenant on earth between a man and a woman.
So this begs the question:
Why is Jesus so strong on the importance of marriage?
I believe I got a sneak-peak into Jesus heart for family when I worked for a local council as a Dads Matter Worker. My role was to organise Dads Nights in local primary schools throughout the municipality. It was a fantastic job, and we had up to 500 children and dads attending these events in various schools. It was heart-warming to talk to dads who were divorced travelling from Bendigo to this municipality which was hours away, to attend a Dads Night with their child.
I realised as I worked in this role how much dads unconditionally loved their children. Their marriage may not have worked out but they were committed to loving their kids. A general rule was that dads would do anything for their kids.
The other-side of the equation was the devastation divorce caused to families. Working with local organisations, they would tell me how desperately dads were wanting to see their kids but were unable to due to court orders or the like. The organisations told me the mental health battles these dads were having and how some were considering suicide.
In the midst of all this I also conducted research into marriage, divorce and fatherlessness and its impact on families and society as a whole. My findings were enlightening but also frightening.
Children who grew up without fathers were much more likely to have behavioural difficulties, lower educational results, and suffer from psychological disorders. They were even more likely to have random accidents. Fatherless children were much less likely to succeed in life.
From all the research I came to the conclusion that the Family Unit is the foundation of a healthy society. The family is designed to be a place where husband and wife flourish in an open trustworthy and supportive relationship, and where children grow up in a safe, secure and loving environment that prospers their development and sets them up for a happy, successful adult life. When families become divided, the separation causes significant damage to all members of the family, especially the children. The result is society becomes fractured and broken as well.
As I worked in this role and discovered these truths through research and experience a scripture in the book of Malachi took on very real significance for me:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Malachi 4: 5-6