Given God’s high ideals for what families should be—reflections of the very nature of a loving, personal God, sources of intimacy and security, and environments that foster godly character—it should come as no surprise that the Devil would want to destroy them. Or at least that he would want to mar families so they misrepresent God’s character, alienate people from one another, or degenerate into hothouses for sinful behavior and thought.
It is no mere coincidence that the first ramifications from the fall were familial. The man, after being confronted by God about his sin in the garden, immediately pointed the finger at his wife as the cause of their demise: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). As one preacher so poetically stated it, Adam’s “bone of my bones” (see Gen. 2:23) had now become a bone of contention. And where did the consequences of the fall next show up? In one brother’s jealousy of another, eventually leading to murder. In a remarkably short number of verses, the idyllic family resort had become a satanic ground for death.
Today the Devil employs a whole host of devices to harm families. His goal is far more than making them “dysfunctional.” In fact, the widespread acceptance of that term may be evidence that the Evil One has already succeeded at demeaning God’s high purposes for family. Isn’t “functional” a rather low goal for a family? Is that all we really want, that families “function”? Setting our goal so low and settling for merely “healing the dysfunctions” of a family, I believe, plays right into the Devil’s game plan.
Instead, we should aim for families to be healthy, thriving, intimate, beautiful, strengthening, sanctifying, and, in the truest and fullest sense of the word, good. Let’s declare a moratorium on the terms “dysfunctional” or “functional.” Instead, let’s talk of “healthy” or “unhealthy” families— especially when we talk to our families, no matter how “dysfunctional” they may be. Let’s paint a better picture for what we want our families to be, subtly telling our parents, siblings, children, and others that we hold them in high regard. We want more for them than to be “functional”—a term better suited for cogs in gears than image-bearers sitting around our dining room tables.
From Bringing the Gospel Home by Randy Newman.