Why Families Matter

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God sets the solitary in families (Psa. 68:6).

"Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:2-3).

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Columnist David Brooks recently penned an article in the New York Times entitled, "What's Ripping American Families Apart?" The article is behind a paywall, but commentator Dennis Prager provided a summary of its contents, including snippets from reader comments on the original article. 

The article and the comments that followed paint an appalling picture. Brooks noted that at least 27% of adult Americans are estranged from other family members, comprising an epidemic of intergenerational alienation. The effect of this breakdown is reflected in the comments of readers who not only see no problem with it, but actively encourage it, often on grounds of political differences. 

Prager suggests four contributing factors behind this tsunami of family dysfunction:

  • Narcissism. A generation of young Americans have been brought up to view themselves as the center of the universe. Anything that offends their sense of self-importance, including imperfect parents, must be evil. 
  • Radical secularism. God has disappeared from the worldview of millions of people--and with Him, any concept of a higher, nobler purpose in life. The sexual revolution has destroyed respect for traditional concepts of marriage and family.   
  • Naïveté about life. Americans, especially young people, are convinced that life should always be pleasant and fun, and when it's not, somebody must be blamed for the adversity. Parents are the usual suspects.  
  • Incompetent psychotherapists. Troubled young people are getting horrible advice from counselors who actually encourage the tearing down of the family structure. 

The institution of the family, consisting of father, mother, children, and extended relations, is God's formula for a stable society. No family is perfect, of course--that's why humility and forgiveness are so important in family relations. But ditching the family altogether produces a life of emptiness and cheerlessness. We weren't designed to live life without this kind of social structure. 

Whatever its flaws, God gave you your family for your good. Appreciate them, and let them know you love them. Someday you'll be glad you did.