Families as we knew them are a dying unit; divorce rates, multiple remarriages, absent parents, ad-hoc like families units, and multiple step siblings all work together to make whatever a family is today different. Communities as we knew them no longer exist. The world is rarely defined by a small geographic area thanks to the web and cheap air tickets. Some believe that both ideas, families and communities, are no longer relevant. In fact some go on to suggest that new social definitions are required to document, explain, and communicate how we live today.
Candidly, I do not agree.
Yes, families and communities have changed. Some of the change is actually for the better. Some is not as good and much is just simply different. Yet the idea that families and communities are no longer relevant is, from my view, an observation taken from a very narrow and incomplete perspective. The human soul has a dying thirst for relationship. We are internally programmed to always be in some kind of relationship.
In the old days it was all about who was related to whom. Family shared common views, values, and priorities. In times of decision and choice the “family” always came first. Evidence of this is seen in the story of when Jesus was arrested. “They [Jesus’ captors] took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.” (John 18.13, 14) The captors knew they could count on family.
I would like to suggest families are as important and relevant as they have ever been. Additionally there is a simple premise which comes along with this; communities are smaller than they have been in the past. Communities and families are, at their best, extensions of each other. Both benefit from the best – intimacy and accountability for each other along with respect and space for individual diversity.
I am part of a great family. Thanks for being a part of it.
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