The Dysfunctional Family

    October 01, 2022 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart

    "The wicked die and disappear, but the family

    of the godly stands firm."

    (Proverbs 12:7, NLT)

    According to pastor and author, Chip Ingram “A dysfunctional family is that which is not operating according to its original design – faulty, impaired, not working properly for optimal results.” With this definition, we need to ask, "What is the family's original design, and how can one know how to live up to the original design of the family?"

    There are countless books written about families and the problems that persist within them. Dysfunction abounds today within families as it has throughout every generation since the beginning of time. But what is the solution to the brokenness that exists within the family? The solution can be found by studying the dysfunctional families of the Bible; and, trust me, there's no short supply.

    Consider the first family: Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. Adam and Eve disobeyed GOD, and found themselves outside of the Garden of Eden, and outside of face-to-face fellowship with GOD. Challenges are plenty within the broken and fallen world they now live in. The struggle to maintain a sense of unity as a family persists because of sin and death, so much so, that jealousy becomes the wedge - and ultimately the kiss of death - between the first children of the first couple. In a premeditated act of selfishness and rage, Cain kills Abel thus setting in motion a ripple effect of further brokenness within the family structure.

    Another family to consider was Abraham and Sarah's family. The first family of Judaism, the chosen people of GOD (Genesis 12), struggled to find the balance between GOD's promises to them and their patience to wait on fulfilling these promises in their lives. After being promised a son in their old age, Abraham and Sarah begin to get impatient. As a means of trying to fulfill GOD's promise of a son, Sarah decided to take matters into her own hands and offer Abraham her servant Hagar as a concubine to have children with.

    Long story short, Abraham sleeps with Hagar and she becomes pregnant, and Sarah becomes jealous. Ishmael (Abraham and Hagar's son), ultimately becomes the focal point of anger and frustration between Sarah and Hagar, and Sarah demands Abraham to send her and the boy away. The result of this union sparked enmity between Sarah's future offspring and Hagar's offspring. Even today, these two family lineages (Islam and Judaism), live in constant tension with each other.

    One final example, but definitely not the last, is the narrative surrounding Jacob's family. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, and a twin brother of Esau, born to Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob spent his earlier years as a bit of a scoundrel, deceiving and manipulating those nearest him. In a strange turn of events, Jacob had the tables turned on him later in life when he attempted to marry the love of his life, Rachel. However, Rachel's dad, Laban, deceived Jacob into marrying Rachel's older sister Leah in the dark of night. Suffice it to say, not only did Jacob marry Leah, but he also ended up marrying Rachel, and eventually the tension between Leah and Rachel became so great that they began to compete for Jacob's attention by offering their servant girls to Jacob to have children with. Needless to say, the crazy web of jealousy and dysfunction that resulted in having four wives and countless children did not bode well for Jacob or anyone else in the family.

    The previous three stories are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to family dysfunction within the Bible. And, dysfunction within families today, sadly, continues to be the norm in this broken and fallen world. So if the Biblical families can't seem to get it right, how are we to get it right today? Well, there is hope in Christ for restoration and healing.

    Even though the Bible is littered with countless examples of family dysfunction, it's not hard to see how GOD uses families in spite of their brokenness. How is GOD working through your family dysfunction to bring wholeness and healing?

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