Sunday, December 27, 2009


Christmas, and the other holidays that folks celebrate this time of year, is (obviously) a time when families get together. For some, like me, that's a good thing. Of course my family has its own little quirks, but we get along pretty well with one another, and most of us even like each other. For others, it's much more painful, and instead of looking forward to the holidays, many people dread the forced get-together ... and all the more, because it's supposed to be such a joyous time of year.

I've been looking around at the families who are part of the congregation I serve, and the families that are part of the congregation my wife serves. I've realized once again that while the 'nuclear' family is the expected norm toward which we feel like we ought to strive, many families don't fall into that category. I know "Leave it to Beaver" families, "Brady Bunch" families, "Will and Grace" families, "Roseanne" families, "I Love Lucy" families, "M*A*S*H" families, a couple "Addams Family" families.

I wonder what it would be like if we started considering the whole spectrum of families in which we find ourselves when we talk about Family Values.

I'm not sure scriptural families are any better. Even beyond Solomon and his hundreds of wives (not to mention concubines), there was Abraham's family (he slept with the servant, and later almost killed his son), Jacob's family (he earned both wives), Elisha's family (he lived with a widow and her son for a while), Joseph's family (who sold him into slavery).

And this morning I realized that Jesus' family wasn't typical or normal either. He was a bastard child, born to an unwed teenage mother; and his dad likely didn't command much respect in the community after he didn't divorce a woman who carried a child that wasn't his.

Is there room in our congregations for families that don't fit society's 'perfect' mold? Is there room in our congregations for families as diverse and varied as those we find in scripture? And if there's not, is there a way to expand so there's room for everyone?


  1. As the head of one such unusual family, and after going through a couple of support groups with others, I am convinced we really need to look into the stats on what a family is today. If 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and 75% of all 2nd marrairages and 87%+ of all 3rd marrages you have to think many children and adults live in the diverse familial spectrum. And these statistics include those in the church.

    What a GREAT area for ministry. So many who have gone through these traumas and feel so alone. Many walk through life scared in this way. So many need our love.

  2. And how long has the "nuclear" family actually been the mode? Relative to actual history, not very long. A family is what you make it, my husband, son, daughter, my "adopted" children & grandchildren, my church family, my neighborhood family, my work family. All of us imperfect, all of us convinced we are unique, strange, or not the norm while at the same time looking for acceptance and love of some sort.

  3. Trying to find normal is silly in my book. If its based on love, its a family. Nice post!