This week’s lesson focused on the purpose of family, and what it means to be a Christian family. The video started out by challenging us to consider the sobering statistics that show little discernible difference between born-again Christians and agnostics/atheists with regard to divorce rates and premarital sex:
- 32% of Christians get divorced, compared to 33% of agnostics/atheists.
- 74% of teenage Christians believe in abstaining from sex before marriage, but 88% of this group have sex before marriage.
- 80% of unmarried Evangelicals admit to having premarital sex; compared to 88% secular unmarrieds.
So when we fight for marriage, what are we actually fighting for? Is marriage just a social contract, or a mysterious covenant?
Starting with the Trinity, we see that man’s nature, like God, is to pour himself out in love and give himself away to another. Likewise, the partnership of marriage points outward and is made for others. When we say yes to marriage, we’re saying yes to “the life of the world:” marriage, kids, the mystery ahead, abundance and new life. Marriage is about living a life of offering.
God can empower families to live for the life of the world. A great example of this is the Zwyghuisen family. They appear to be a normal American family, but upon closer examination we see that they are intentional in cultivating virtues as a family. Specifically, they strive to live out “loving-encouraging-blessing” with every choice and action. With a slight shift of focus every day, the smaller picture of their family life plays a role in the larger picture of God’s story. They understand the fullness of “all is gift,” the freedom of which allows them to live out that fullness in the normal and everyday.
In groups of three and four, we discussed the definition of a healthy family and shared our greatest blessings and hardships in marriage. We also discussed how our entire church is a family that might be “pointed out” to bless the world with unique gifts. My group especially was struck by the idea that family is the “school of love” where we learn our true nature and identity in Christ. Forming our character within our families in preparation to be gifts to the world truly is generational work that can be messy. But like Christ who entered into that mess, that exile – not to condemn, but to bring life – we can learn and work together in the economy of love to tend to the healthy soil of family that is the foundation of society.
The episode ended with the exhortation for us, the Exiles, to be generous with life, our families, our “yes,” to God’s plan for the life of the world. The parting words were, “Let us start by saying, ‘let it be.’” Indeed, we went forth from tonight’s session inspired to live out loving-encouraging-blessing in our own families and, by extension, the world.