First published in The Batesville Daily Guard on Dec. 22, 2016
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.—1 Peter 5:8 (HCSB)
The American family is an institution under fire, and the walls seem to be shaking and cracking under the strain of this assault. Some blame movies, TV, media, political agendas, movements, liberalism, conservatism and every other –ism for this issue, but most agree that Family does not mean what it used to in many ways.
I looked up “family” in a dictionary and, strangely, I did not find a satisfactory definition for that word. It spoke of the composition of a traditional family, groups of common interest, scientific uses for that word, and even mentioned crime syndicates. None of that hit the mark for me, though, so forget the dictionary. Let me be Frank for a moment and define that word myself.
Family: An impenetrable group of people with a shared sense of identity, loyalty, love, adoration, faithfulness and concern that will do anything to help, protect, teach, provide for and otherwise take care of each other no matter what.
Why did I have to pull that out of my own head instead of seeing it somewhere else? Because far too often, the concept of family is left to individual interpretation these days. From where I am sitting, though, God provided the definition of family in the description of another word in 1 Corinthians 13: “love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Battle lines are drawn in the war for the family. Our marching orders exist in the verse previously mentioned, but there is an enemy out there seeking to destroy families. Why? Because God created them. Families are the nuclear core of humanity and a real threat to chaos, anarchy and evil. When families are strong, loving and impenetrable, The Enemy is in trouble. He knows that he must attack the family in order to conquer God’s people.
He accomplishes this by using tools such as selfishness, greed, anger, insecurity, hurt, pain, adultery, substance abuse, gambling and many other personal struggles. This adversary knows what makes us humans tick. He knows individually what our weaknesses are and he knows how to manipulate them into something that detonates and takes out everyone around us.
How do we defend ourselves on this great battlefield? What hope do we have that we can fend off the attacks on our families and defeat this enemy in the war for the hearts and minds of our loved ones?
First, we must be careful what we are giving our mental and emotional energy to. We are only equipped with so much of that and anything we pay attention to outside of our families is attention we have to take away from them. I’m not talking about necessary things like work and paying bills and I’m not talking about world issues or current events. I’m speaking to distractions outside our families that pose a threat to them.
Second, we must be ever watchful of those distractions. The enemy, as mentioned before, is a prowling lion seeking whom he can devour. Sometimes those distractions can sneak up on us and take advantage of any number of weaknesses we may have, and before we know it our families are in shambles.
Third, we must bind closer to our families. Reread the verse above from 1 Corinthians. That’s not just a definition of love; it is a checklist that we must follow in our families. Families that aren’t strong on the inside are going to be much more susceptible to attack from the outside.
This is a call to responsibility — both personal and for those in our families who depend on us. There is a saying in Puerto Rico, “la familia es todo.” Literally translated it reads, “the family is everything.” If our families aren’t our everything, then we are not being true to the nuclear core of humanity that God created for His people to thrive —and survive.