April 1, 2012

If My People: Family Healing and Regeneration (Part 1)

Strong and faithful individuals build faithful families, churches and societies. Churches and families must reclaim responsibility for the care of others and the education of children if they are to play a relevant role in the world.

The Moral Cost of the Sexual Revolution

Contemporary culture faces a myriad of social issues threatening the collapse of society. Of particular note is the moral failure of the nuclear family and its subsequent impact on social order.

With the sexual revolution and other societal changes, the family unit began to break down and norms associated with family function were warped. Rampant promiscuity, adultery, and other formerly prohibited sexual practices have since become widely normalized. With the sexual liberty of the individual came increased problems in the family. Today we see high divorce rates, and a significant rise in single-parent families, abuse, and the neglect and even abandonment of children – the weakest members of society. To justify our choices, we have brought into question the definition and function of the family, legalized abortion, and glorified promiscuity and sexual license.

Children Fare badly in Broken Families

Studies show that children in single-parent homes are at higher risk of poor physical and mental health, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to be abused, and less likely to have healthy relationships in adulthood themselves.[1] Broken families are more susceptible to dependence on welfare, and in Canada chronic poverty is linked to single-parenthood.[2] Not coincidentally, overall levels of stress, anxiety and mental health issues have increased among adults as familial structures have broken down.

The Social Cost of the Sexual Revolution

There are financial costs to family breakdown as well. In Canada, “the cost of serving broken families is almost $7 billion annually.”[3] A similar study in the United Kingdom found that “the costs of sexual freedom and relationship breakdown to the taxpayer and wider economy are complex and difficult to calculate, but 100 billion pounds annually is probably a reasonable starting point: about twice as much as alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity combined.”[4]

The massive welfare costs and other problems incurred by family breakdown have led to political warfare between classes, and are tearing apart the fabric of our society.

Sin – not Society ­­­– is the Cause of our Ills

Solutions, cures, and answers pop up in public discourse and are implemented. Many of these fail. Others solve an immediate problem but fail in the long-term. Still others are band-aids which ameliorate the effects of a problem but do not see its eradication. In Mark 4:28, Jesus says “the earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” We often want instant answers and solutions, but growth takes time, and so does problem-solving. And no solution will be truly effective unless it addresses the central moral issue: sin. The problem of sin is not solvable on a technical basis. Most cultural solutions to social and family breakdown are reductionist. Rather than diminution, we must turn to a holistic approach to familial and societal health. Such an approach must recognize the fundamental sin problem and the importance of the biblical model for the governance of society, the family, and the individual. 

The need for Personal Regeneration

Regeneration begins first with the individual and then with the family. The individual must first be redeemed by the grace of God in Jesus. He or she will then govern him/herself according to the law of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in love for God and fellow man. The redeemed individual then governs his family according to the statutes of the Lord and raises his children in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. His faithfulness to the Lord and commitment to his family is a rock in the foundation of a healthy society. “The family is both deeply private and unavoidably public; it holds a valued place outside the home, and is a crucial component of a thriving society. Families that work are like invisible shields: encouraging the individuals who form our communities in the public square, thereby helping them to thrive.”[5] The family is God’s basic institution: it is man’s first church, first government, first school and more. The family controls property, inheritance, and carries out education, welfare and spiritual formation.

A Tradition of Family-based Care

In the early church, Christians fed not only their own poor but also the Hellenic poor.[6] Families that made up these churches exercised biblical hospitality for strangers in their homes. “For most of the history of the church, hospitality was understood to encompass physical, social, and spiritual dimensions of human existence and relationships. It meant response to the physical needs of strangers for food, shelter, and protection, but also a recognition of their worth and common humanity.”[7]

Surrendering Care to the State

With the development of Western civilization, it was the Christians who again established schools, hospitals, and cared for the welfare of the poor, the fatherless, and sojourners. Around the time of WWII, the church began to relinquish these functions to the state. Instead of exercising our God-given responsibilities as the priesthood of believers, we have abdicated many to the state and abandoned others all together. As a result, the church has lost much of its relevance to our society. Instead of the church acting as a prophetic witness to the culture, the culture of the world has infiltrated the church.

In our public education system, generations of children and teens are daily educated in the man-centered worldview of secular humanism. Since the state administers healthcare, and has also become the predominant source of welfare and charity, we increasingly turn there for security and provision. With the twin idols of self and state there is no room left for the Lordship of Christ.

Rather than seeing believers become mature in Christ, walking in the wisdom and truth of the Bible, we have listened to the dictates of the culture to “not judge” and to “accept people for who they are.” Instead of proclaiming the gospel of salvation and exhorting people to live and move and have their being in Christ Jesus alone, we have left them to struggle in sin. Instead of calling people to freedom in Christ, we have let the enemy enslave people through the cultural guise of freedom of choice. As a result, rather than Christian families and churches built up in love, bringing healing to the nations as the Body of Christ, we have many languishing Christian families and churches becoming broken themselves.


For a more complete treatment of this subject, see the article “If My People…,” in the Spring 2012 issue of Jubilee.


[1] Mrozek, A. & Walberg, R. (2009). Private Choices, Public Costs: How Failing Families Cost Us All, (Ottawa: Institute of Marriage & Family Canada), p.25.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. (p.5)

[4] Brandon, G. (2011). Free Sex: Who pays? Moral hazard and sexual ethics. Cambridge Papers , 20 (4).

[5] Mrozek, A. & Walberg, R. (2009). Private Choices, Public Costs, p.8.

[6] Schmidt, C. (1889). The Social Results of Early Christianity, trans. R.W. Dale, London: Wm. Isbister, (p.328).

[7] Pohl, C. (1999). Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans), p.110.

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