Monday, May 14, 2012


Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34:6-7
As summer approaches we find increased opportunity for families to get together. this a good thing?  Maybe your family is filled with delightful and encouraging people who gather regularly and never have a crossed word or conflict.  If so, you are surely among the most blessed people I know.  For most families there is a tension that results from their histories and personal weaknesses.  Grudges for many have hardened into bitterness or past hurts still have a present pain.  Try as they may they just can’t get past the past.  Others carry family addiction or dysfunction issues into the next generation. 
American Heritage Dictionary defines “dysfunction” as "abnormal or impaired functioning, especially of a bodily system or social group".  In regard to families, it is used to describe a broken family, one that is not functioning in what is considered a normal capacity.  Is this a new phenomenon or have dysfunctional families always been a part of society?  You may be surprised to discover this is no new phenomena.
To determine what is dysfunctional, one has to first look at what is normal for that society. In history some things that were viewed as normal would be considered abnormal or dysfunctional in our society today.  Young girls leaving home at 14 to marry and establish their families with a boy of 18 may describe your grandparents.  We would consider that very dysfunctional today.  Nonetheless, even using the standards of their own society, one can conclude that there were many dysfunctional families in history.  Some of the Bible's most famous characters had serious dysfunction in their families.
King David's Family - As recorded in the bible, Amnon the son of King David, raped his half sister Tamar. The scriptures state that Tamar begged Amnon not to "do this wicked thing". Later Tamar's full brother Absalom would have Amnon killed in retaliation.
Adam's Family - Adam's family began with blame and ended in murder.  When Adam ate from the forbidden tree and was banished from Eden he blamed Eve for eating the apple.  The dysfunctional family then became worse when Cain got jealous of his brother Abel and murdered him.
Abraham's family - Abraham's family definitely had some dysfunctional moments. Abraham pretends that his wife Sarah is his sister and offers her to another man.  Later Abraham has a child with another woman.
Isaac's family - Isaac loves his son Esau more than his other son, Jacob. His wife Rebekah loves Jacob more than Esau.  The mom and Jacob plot against Esau and daddy and eventually Jacob has to run from his brother for years.
Jacob's family - Jacob has thirteen kids. Okay, that's not too dysfunctional, but he had those thirteen kids with four different women.  Jacob favored one son over the others and those other sons threw their brother down a well, sold him to slavery and then told their father he was dead.
And the list goes on...all the way to today.  Maybe some insight this week will help us all to deal with the family reunions and vacations coming our way this summer. 
Scripture to Claim:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:1-4

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