Twenty-first-Century Family Theology

In the Christianity, families occupy a special place. Yet, some so-called traditional family values take on a decidedly twentieth-century tone. For instance, monogamy and having few children are inconsistent with the Hebrew and Greco-Roman worlds of the Bible.

What does the Bible say about family?

Scripture

Deuteronomy 6.6-7 sets up family structure (e.g. “Obey your parents.”). Ephesians 5.21-33 is also about structure and draws an analogy between family love and human love for Christ. Psalm 133.1 draws people together in unity. And, Proverbs 11.29 delivers a warning against betraying one’s family.

In each case, there is a specific context for the scripture. Therefore, the theology connects God with humanity and the social structures within which we live. The nature of God is to be in communion with people. If God is connected with people, then people should connect with one another. Family is one such way to form those connections.

My Family

I am lucky to have been born to two people who love one another and continue to be in a covenant relationship together. My siblings and I are close. They each have a spouse and children, and their families get together with my family.

When I think about “family,” my experience comes to mind. But, there is more to family than biological connections. Both of my siblings have three children. And, in both cases, they adopted their children. My six nieces and nephews do not share a biological connection with me, yet they are no less connected than other members of my extended family who do share a biological connection.

Created Family

Last night, I attended a dinner party at my sister’s house. Her husband’s brother is a close part of their lives, and if I lived on the same coast and 3000+ miles away, he would be part of my life. My sister and her husband have a new foster daughter. It was her birthday party, so we brought her a gift—not because we felt obligated but because she is part of the family.

Some of my cousins were at this gathering too. Having not seen them in many years, it was great to reconnect.

Family is a choice. We can draw people together and connect with them. When we do, we reflect the theology of God and community. The people around us become our family.

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