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The Holy Family

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Our families are a key part of our lives that is very intimate and personal; the bond that is shared between family members is one that is very sacred and can be a blessing or curse depending on circumstances.

As children, we realize eventually that it is one of those bonds that doesn’t center on choice, but rather a God given relationship that is presented to us before we even knew it. However, we can see that whilst family and marriage is seen as important in society, divorce rates and the prevalence of single parent families is still at large a common trend.

Depending on your cultural background, family dynamics vary far and wide; stereotypically Asian families experience hierarchical relationships that involve filial piety, while generally Western families have more democratic dynamics. Thus, when arguments or problems arise, sometimes it can be seen that Western families have a more efficient method in solving problems, whilst Asian families struggle with reaching solutions due to an unseen barrier that is due to cultural tendencies to be less direct with communication.

Speaking from a Christian perspective, culture is important and needs to be taken into account, however the methods by which we deal with conflicts should be different to the way non-believers react. Sadly, even unbelievers bring shame upon Christian households through the love they display for one another. Where do such problems arise from? To answer this, we must look at our origins.

Original Sin

Scripture tells us that the family starts with one man and one woman; (Matthew 19:3-6) “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”. God blessed and instituted the first marriage in history between Adam and Eve.

Unfortunately, despite the endowment of the image of God and free will; Adam and Eve decided to sin and serve their own purposes than to obey God. The bond between Adam and Eve was so strong that Adam disobeyed God to protect and support his wife Eve. This mistake would have been rectified if Adam simply confessed, but lies rather than the truth were spoken. We can see the same mistakes that Adam and Eve made in our own families today; the harmonious relationships that God created have been tainted by confusion and the absence of truth.

Following this disobedience, the institution of marriage and the family still survived by the grace of God, but it had many competitors from the get go. After Eden, we see that brothers will murder one another, wives will deceive their husbands, and husbands will abuse their wives. Men would commit polygamy, women begin to prostitute themselves to enjoy pleasure, and both sexes would be adulterous and treacherous to one another.

The commands and precepts of God to love, obey, and not defile ourselves, repeatedly are ignored and disobeyed. You see, the problem of human relationships starts from the spiritual, not the physical. Due to the excommunication of Adam and Eve from God, there was no longer a clear authority that humanity needed to obey; they were given over to themselves and to the serpent.

Thankfully, God did not abandon us to His judgment, and continued to give humanity graces through the prophets foretelling of a coming Messiah to usher in a new world order; not the world order that the so-called ‘Illuminati’ are trying to create, but a new world order under Christ the King.

The family and marriage received a new invigoration of the Holy Spirit through the relationship between Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Joseph. This holy family is one of the very first models for Christian families. It was because of the obedience of Mary that she bore Christ and salvation for mankind; Joseph did not stand in the way, and opted to obey God instead. Yet, there is an even greater marriage, a marriage not only founded upon blood but founded upon God Himself; the holy union between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Covenant of Sacrifice

The grace that comes from a godly marriage is incredible; two Christians can bear an entire new generation of Christians simply through a holy marriage. Rather than relying on our own passions and strengths to sustain marriage, we rely solely on God to sanctify and propel us towards holy marriage and grace filled relationships. Thus on this truth, conflict resolution should not rest solely in the hands of the husband nor the wife, but in God’s hands, through the Church. Even Christ states that for Christians, divorce should not be brought about unless there is clear evidence of adultery and that there is no reconciliation in sight (Matthew 19:8-9: He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”).

Amidst our fury and passion, we easily forget that husbands and wives functionally represent Christ and His Church. This is why whenever Christians speak of marriage, we always say, husbands ought to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). Just as Christ died to make the Church holy, so are men called to sanctify their wives and their families, thus not only is the Christian family bound by blood, but it is a sort of spiritual covenant that forms between members, between husband and wife.

The Role of the Spirit

We can see that God teaches and instructs us on the nature of family and marriage, and he also equips us with the necessary tools to ensure its success. As both men and women strive to become more like Christ, he blesses us with relationships and also with the gifts of the Spirit that enable us to endure in our covenant with Christ. Likewise, the gifts of the Spirit need to be applied daily in marriage and in the family.

Conflicts often arise from the lack of our communication with one another and often due to a clash of characters. For lasting change to take place, an interior transformation must be undertaken before we consider transforming our relationships with others. The battle is always within us, between the Spirit of God, and our sinful nature; echoing the words of St. Paul, Lutheran theologian Bonhoeffer puts it like this: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”; “To live is Christ, and to die is gain”.

We put to death our sinful nature, and through this interior, spiritual crucifixion, we can understand and believe that the physical reality of Christ’s crucifixion is efficacious for us to obey God. These acts are transformed by God to consecrate our lives; marriages and families to himself, until the very end of the age.

 

This guest post was written by Jack Liang, a Commerce & Arts student at Macquarie University.

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