Over the last several months, there’s been much discussion about keeping families together. Protesters along the Mexican border and in many communities all over America have demanded that children be reunited with their parents and that laws be changed to prevent such separations. While politicians on both sides have spun this to their advantage, I’m just happy so many are finally concerned about something the church has been championing for many years: the family!
In his infinite wisdom, God designed for humans to be born to both a mom and a dad and to be raised in the social construct that we now refer to as a family. Borrowing from a marriage ceremony, “the home is the basic unit and the true foundation of the social order.”
While exceptions arise due to untimely deaths and other extenuating circumstances, throughout history, most humans have spent their formative years with their biological parents and other siblings. This arrangement allows for the transmission of essential life skills as well as ideals and values held by the parents. It also provides for the children’s protection and the best possible environment for their development and growth.
It is indeed tragic when war, disease, or other situations intervene to disrupt the home and I’m very thankful that such a large number of Americans recognize the value of parental influence and presence in children’s lives and are now publicly valuing God’s created order. I’m also thankful that steps have been and are being taken to reunite these families and change policies adopted several years ago that have created these separations.
My prayer is that this concern for families will translate to other areas of our national life as well. For example, it is equally tragic when children are separated from one or the other parent, often for extended periods of time, due to separation or divorce. With the advent of no-fault divorce nearly 50 years ago, this tragic phenomena has been played out millions of times since and former President Reagan called his work to implement this practice in California the biggest regret of his political career.
Countless studies have affirmed what God designed long ago: that little girls and boys do far better in every way when both parents are raising them together. God’s wisdom ordained both a mom and a dad for good reason and our assumption that one can do as well as both has and is bearing bitter fruit.
While it is unrealistic to believe that this painful practice will be eliminated any time soon, we can and should work diligently to keep marriages and families together. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see those same demonstrators and political activists advocating for stronger homes and marriages?
Those who disagree will argue that the border separations are created by the enforcement of immigration laws against the parents’ wills. But in the same way, current laws allow just one parent to divide the family and separate the children from the other parent regardless how much that other parent opposes it.
Unfortunately, even marriages that stay together often result in fragmentation where busy schedules take parents in different directions and children are left to fend for themselves. It’s refreshing to see couples who value their families and build hedges to protect them from the ever encroaching crush of a society that elevates the individual above the group.
It’s also a good time to remember that there is a ministry begun, funded, and run by Christians in our own local community that is laboring to keep homeless families together. Unlike some areas where moms and dads are separated until housing can be found, Family Promise of Shenandoah County enables families to remain intact throughout their time of rehousing.
I would encourage all who are concerned about keeping families together to do whatever possible to strengthen their own marriages as well as those around them and to volunteer for Family Promise. Additional churches are needed as host sites, and meals, supervision and mentors are also needed. A quick call to the Family Center at 540-459-4599 will connect you with opportunities to do something concrete to help keep families together.
In the meantime, let’s take this moment to thank God that many now recognize and value the family and pray that this will translate into stronger families all across our land. Praying, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 11 books in addition to contributing to Everyday Grace for Men by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at email@example.com.