Family is God’s first idea. After the Garden was ready God created man and woman and told them to be fruitful—that meant have children—fill the earth with people. Didn’t take them long to get into trouble. There sin had nothing to do with sex but with disobedience.
Just like God invented people, He invented everything about us, including our sexuality. Sex is not a sin, although many sins are committed through sexual acts. Our ancestors enjoyed original innocence and were not aware of their nakedness until they disobeyed. “Big deal” we might conclude because we read the Bible like a storybook. Our thinking, our theology has deep roots in creation history found in the first chapters of Genesis. Almost every wedding couple chooses the first reading from the creation narrative. “A man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one. They are no longer two, but one flesh.” That’s pretty graphic language. Obviously, God intended to be clear. Yet, we know from the reality all around us that the image of the family has changed over the last 50 years and will continue to evolve. Besides the traditional family there are blended families, single parent home families, divorced, adopted, estranged, etc. Known fact is that fewer are coming to the altar to embrace the Sacrament of marriage. Of those who are coming, many are already living together or have lived with another partner. In the 1950’s, a 20 year old person was considered mature, capable of making a life-long commitment. My grandmother was married when she was 16. No longer can the same standards be held. 27-30 is now the average age of a couple. Making a life-long commitment scares young people, mostly because of the family environment to which they have been exposed.
Environment—culture highly influences the way we think. If we take a child from 5,000 years ago and place that child in our culture—the child would be no different than our own children. Prejudices, phobias, goal setting are learned behavior, according to the environment. All children begin to learn at home, hopefully from their father and mother. In homes where the parents are missing, the housekeeper or grandparents take responsibility. Unfortunately day care centers for infants are common. Developmental years give direction to a person’s future. The behavior of a child does not depend so much on genetics, but on the family or the absence of a family.
The fruit does not fall far from the tree. If a parent gets angry with their child, they can’t stay angry very long because they realize that they are talking to their image—a reflection of themselves. Joseph and Mary might have been angry with Jesus when He got lost. However, they got over it quickly. Especially from the grown-up language of the twelve year old, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Kids say the most unexpected things to adults who are angry. That’s one way to disarm the anger. Families will inevitably have disagreements. Anger is a normal emotion like all the others. Problem is when we hold on to resentments. Just like the Holy Family talked to each other and came to an understanding, we are challenged to do the same.
Consider that much can be accomplished when we take our nose out of the gadgets, which consume so much of our time, and talk to each other, beginning at home. We will receive from our family what we have put into it.