13th of February 2017

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” Genesis 2:24

I am not sure whether it is because my son is getting married or because I seem to have arrived at the age where I am doing weddings for family, friends, nieces & nephews; but I have been thinking about family lately, its purpose, value, and meaning

Traditionally of course someone will get up at a reception and say to the new ‘in law’ “welcome to the family’’. It is a lovely gesture, kindly meant and generous no doubt but is it correct? Are we asking them to join our family or are they setting off on a family of their own?

The prayer book Marriage service says, “in marriage a new family is established in accordance with God’s purpose ……. for the good order of society, to the glory of God.’ Now of course the prayer book is not the Bible but I take it that the roots for this statement lie in the above passage from Genesis. So maybe it is a new family, a family all on its own. A family with new independence, new unity and a new job to do.

Now the problem it seems to me is that we often have too tight and too loose a definition of family. Too tight and we create dependence, too loose and we end up with a group of individuals. Of course this can go both ways. I take it when the Bible is addressing leaving father and mother it is addressing both the parents and the ‘no longer’ child. Parents need to let their children become a family, children need to go and do it.

What about the people who are single you say? Well the truth is that Jesus himself was single, so the family can’t be ultimate. In the end, in Christ, we are part of God’s family. This is made possible by the death of the Son. We are brothers, fellow heirs, loved sons. We are the family of God. What a privilege that is. Let us all be part of that new family.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stuart