Earlier this year, my wife and I visited our son and his wife in Thailand. We saw our 5th grandchild, Austin, for the first time. He is just 10 months old. This got me to thinking about the ways that families can now be a group of geographically separate and disparate groups that may often be only connected by the family name. Social mobility occasioned by economic factors, job prospects, marrying someone from another country, preferring the climate of another land or simply being disillusioned by current circumstances are often the cause for people moving and for families seeing little of each other. That was not necessarily the case that much half a century ago, when travel was not a highly marketable commodity, nor did families, generally, think of leaving the area in which they were born and brought up.
In his book “Family Britain 1951-1957”, David Kynaston wrote the following: “Sociologist Michael Young conducted research in London’s Bethnal Green. Here he describes a widow in her 60’s living alone save for a dog and a budgie. She is infirm and rarely goes out. A married daughter lives two minutes’ walk away with her five children. One grandson does her shopping, another collects and returns the washing which is done by the married daughter living ten minutes’ walk away. A young grandson often stays a night. The grandchildren fetch her papers, chop her firewood and take the dog out. Her second daughter collects her pension and her mother spends every Sunday at her home. A son with a market stall brings vegetables every morning and give her ten shillings a week. He lives five minutes walk away with his wife and child. A second son lives in Norwich and that is where the widow spends a fortnight’s (two weeks) holiday every summer. Fifteen relatives are seen at least once a week, several every day.”
It can often be deceptive to just look at everything from yesteryear through rose coloured glasses, but there is no doubt that there was much more genuine social cohesion and care for one another in families, and society, that seems to be missing in so many lives today.
But we have to accept that moving within one’s own country, or abroad, may be a necessity in many cases, as jobs become scarcer, prospects limited and financial pressures build up. But that can impact on the support that families can give to each other at critical times and on an ongoing basis. And, of course, those who have been and are involved in the Work of God have, in many cases, moved a number of times to different parts of the world to carry out those responsibilities that God has given them. The New Testament gives a clear indication that the early apostles were “socially mobile” as was Jesus Himself. But it is incumbent on us, as “ambassadors for Christ” to do the best we can for our families irrespective of our geographical situation. Of course, the other extreme may be that family members can be “smothered” by them not being left to get on with their own lives and make their own decisions (always with input from family members if required). As usual, balance is the key.
When we look at the meltdown in morals, behaviour and the acceptance of “alternative life styles,” this should clearly show us why our society is in such a mess. And all of this has been fostered by a liberal elite with an agenda to shape society in a different way and undermine much of the good that went before it. This has been ably aided and abetted by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) who is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
According to the perceived wisdom of our rulers regarding the definition of a family, it seems that any combination of people will do. One leading politician in the UK stated over a year ago that he believed in marriage. But then he added – marriage between a man and a woman, a man and a man and a woman and a woman! The old “nuclear family” of a husband and wife and two children is no longer the best game in town. Without going through a great catalogue of what now constitutes a family in the eyes of those in power, suffice to say that any grouping today seems to fit the bill.
God’s definition is simple and clearly defined: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). And then they were told to have children, to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
In the soon coming Kingdom, the ways of God will be practiced. And families–properly constituted Godly families–will once again be the bedrock of society. That will be a time when the disintegration of the family will be left well behind and society will benefit enormously when God imposes His rules which will be, as always, for the benefit of all of mankind.