I love my family. I have so many aunts, uncles, and cousins...and it doubled after I got married! So this blog is about family.
There are many differing types of family:
Conjugal (nuclear) family: includes only the husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age.
Matrifocal family: consists of a mother and her children
Extended family: This term has two distinct meanings. First, it serves as a synonym of "consanguineal family" (consanguine means "of the same blood"). Second, in societies dominated by the conjugal family, it refers to "kindred" (an egocentric network of relatives that extends beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the conjugal family.
Blended family: The term blended family or stepfamily describes families with mixed parents: one or both parents remarried, bringing children of the former family into the new family.
I readily admit that I fit in all 4 of these types, and probably some others not mentioned here. I absolutely love my family. Blended, extended, matrifocal, and conjugal: In every stage of my life it was family that kept me sane and stable. I thank God for them every day.
When I began to study this in the Bible, I discover something interesting. The English word family singular is first used in Leviticu 20:5. I was shocked. Here is the word translated family:
mishpachah (combine miyn + shaphah): family (tribe of kind)→ circle of relatives, class of persons, species of animal, group/sort of things
When I looked up the frequency of this word in the Bible, I discovered that mishpachah is first used to describe animal kinds or groupings (Genesis 8:19), then it is translated families plural (Genesis 10:5), shortly after the tower of Babel.
Why was the same word being used for both humans and animals? Humans were created higher than animals...weren’t we?
When I went to Genesis 1, the KJV word for animal kind, miyn, is there. Interestingly however, humanity in Genesis 1 is not referred to as kind. We are image and likeness!
See, when God made animals, he made all types, breeds. But, when God made humans, he just made humans: the Adam as Male and Female...Likeness! He did not make different breeds of humanity!
Why is this important? God is singular and plural...1 and 3. They are an I, and He is Them. Family as it is applied in the Bible addresses plurality and differentiation. God in His Godness is not a family. God is God...1 Being : 3 Persons. When God wanted to address the uniqueness of mankind as a singular plural entity, he called them Likeness, not family. Likeness is reflection of the Divine, a micro-object lesson of the Divine macro-reality. Family, no matter how hard we try, stresses division, not unity. This is why it is first applied to humanity after Babel. I submit that the notion of family is a post-sin construct.
- Given command “Be fruitful, multiply”
- Given the command “Have dominion”
- Says “This is bone of my bone flesh of my flesh…”
- Says “…She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man”
- Needs help with reproduction: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and conception…”
- Nature no longer recognizes human dominion: “Cursed is the ground…
- Thorns and thistles will it bring forth to you…
- by the sweat of your brown will you eat bread…”
- The Woman you gave me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat
- Says “…And your desire shall be for your husband, and he will rule over you”
- Says “…I don’t know. Am I my brothers keep”
- Happened when God described the seed of the serpent versus the Seed of the woman
- Happened when Cain killed his brother
- Happened with Cain had is descendants against God, versus Seth and his descendants for God
- Happened when the languages were confounded and everyone went their own way. cultures, Ethnic groups, nations...separateness was born, and with it war.
Think about it. When have you ever heard about family dynamics, whether in life or in a class, where it wasn't describing some dysfunction? Family is always about dysfunction.
Additionally, there is no post-fall family which allows for the fullness of individual identity simultaneous to oneness with the other. That mystery is called Likeness, is the privilege of being in the image of God, and is the mystery of Godliness. In most families there is either fierce individualism and independent identity, or else there is one to a few major personalities who shape all others in his/their image, and thus individualism is lost. The Godhead is fully individualized in Their personality and yet full One in HimSelf. To be fully me, and fully my wife, simultaneously, that is Likeness. That was Adam and Eve. Satan can never create Likeness...but he can degrade it to family.
When I say family I do not me a married couple, having children, etc. I am speaking something else...of the mindset in relationship. Family as a construct was caused in sin, is the result of rebellion, is based in power, and leads to separation (Babel). It breeds an us versus them mentality, as can be seen by the endless competition and wars between the families of the world. It can be heard in the endless banter of those who decry the breakdown of the family unit: celibate versus fornicators, married versus divorced, dual parent homes versus single parent homes, straight versus same-sex, headship and submission versus feminism. I wonder if the argument for “family structure” or “family values” is based more on theology of the curse projected backward onto creation order, rather than simply a theological reflection on Creation order itself. If my preaching is a me versus them presentation, most likely I am arguing for family and not Likeness.
And yet, God, in whom is no hierarchy within the Divine selves, submitted Himselves to the fallen construct of family at the incarnation. God submitted Themself to our fallen construct to save us, and in so doing, elevated the construct! God is now family within Themself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is as if God said, “Ok if there is going to be hierarchy, I am at the top. Call Me Father.” Now we are being changed from glory to glory, from the object lesson of the Divine Mystery of the Oneness of the Creator to the object lesson of the Divine Mystery of the condescension of God as Savior. God is now our family!
In Jesus, We are brought back to Likeness. However, this is the likeness of the Son (Romans 6:5), who Himself took on our likeness (Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7). God in Their infinitely exponential wisdom managed to merge Likeness, a Divine construct, and Sonship, a family construct, in one Person: Jesus! In so doing, God elevates the fallen, bringing us closer Himself and each other in salvation than we would have been in creation! The cross of Jesus not only physically affected Jesus permanently (he remains human, retains his scars, etc.), I submit it permanently affected the Godhead. The entire Godhead “entered into a fallen social structure, allowing it to dictate how They relate within Themself. And it isn't even a complete family structure. Before there were God+God+God=God...total equality. Now there is God the Father, God the Son, and...God the Holy Spirit? What is he in the family unit? Where does he fit in the family relationship? The Incarnation, the Cross of Jesus affects more than Jesus...it affects all of God!
In the light of this, all other hierarchical social constructs fail. nationality, ethnicity, social class, race, gender, everything we used to define the differences between humanity all fall in light of the unity we all have in Jesus.
The familial tension and gender hierarchy created at the Tree of Knowledge is undone by the Process of reconciliation begun at Calvary.
The cultural, ethnic, racial, and social differences created by Babel were undone by the process of restoration begun at Pentecost. There is only one head...God the father, and we are all sons and daughters because of Jesus. God will forever relate to us based on His condescension into our fallen social structure...family.
All that is left for me is gratefulness! Thank God for family!