I recently found a Bible I thought I had lost. Looking on the blank pages, I remembered a few years ago that I had started a project of reading through the New Testament, and I listed every verse that related to being a better person. There weren’t very many. Specifically, I also kept track of how many related to having a perfect family, I couldn’t find any there.
However, most non-historical Christianity is focused on being a better person, and especially, on being a better family. As I started examining the writings of the early Christian church, they NEVER wrote about the family. Yet, modern Christianity is obsessed with the perfect family. As near as I can tell, the talk about the family didn’t start until sometime after World War II. As the United States came of age after the war, people wanted to hear sermons and read books on the family, so that is what pastors and book distributors gave them.
Instead, as I read the entire Bible and look through church history, God accepts and acknowledges individuals regardless of the complicated family situations they find themselves in. The O.T. is full of examples of polygamy, adultery, and other inappropriate relationships, but instead of condemning the relationships, God shows grace in spite of the relationship.
The older I get, the more I realize that life is complicated. For lots of complicated reasons, family relationships often get strained. Families fight or do not communicate. Mental illness often impacts one or more family members. Various eccentric personalities often interfere with the ability to communicate. Sometimes, relationships are strained because of sin, but, other times, they are strained for complicated reasons that often have little to do with sin.
I have given up on understanding relationships, or trying to blame all relationship problems on sin. I have given up on trying to fix family relationships by being a better person. The truth is that life is complicated, and family relationships almost always get complicated along with life.
I am just thankful that God shows me grace in a complicated world.