You know the saying, "you can pick your friends, but not your family?" Memories of family life can inspire spontaneous laughter while standing in line at the supermarket, bring you to tears, or both – all at once.
Family life can be tough at times, but Dr. Russell Moore says that's normal.
"I think the temptation is to somehow think that if we just love Jesus or if we're just good people then we're not going to have these difficult times that come with family and in reality that's never what Jesus promised us. He said to us that our lives within the family are about carrying the cross and so that means that every interaction that we have within a family is an opportunity to pour oneself out. To sacrifice oneself in service to others," he tells CBN News.
Dr. Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission which serves as the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In his latest book, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Moore says focusing on the cross will help prevent families from capsizing.
"What we see on the cross is through hurt and through vulnerability we see the glory of God," he says.
One of the reasons family life is such a challenge, he believes, is because it's under constant spiritual attack.
"It's because the marriage relationship, for instance, is designed after that picture of Christ and the Church and the relationship of a child to parents or a larger extended family is a picture of God who is Father to us Ephesians Chapter 3 says to us. So, of course, the spiritual forces, the principalities, and powers as the New Testament calls them would rail against that. They don't like the picture of that and so what you see happening with the family in every generation, in every age all the time is similar to what someone would see trying to take apart a Gospel track because that's what the family is," Moore says.
In this digitally connected era, families often feel their relationships have become unplugged and depression can set in when scrolling through seemingly perfect families on social media.
"You have people who think that somehow their entire worth is built on whether or not their family photos are 'Instagram-able' enough and whether or not their children succeed enough," Moore says.
However, he says it's important to remember social media posts aren't a live camera into a person's family life; rather they're snapshots of the good moments.
"People aren't usually going to post on social media, 'Guess what? Aunt Flossie has another restraining order against her' or 'my child has been grounded again' or 'I'm afraid that my spouse and I are going to divorce,' people aren't going to do that. But sometimes when we see just the shiny presentation it can cause this kind of comparison and the sense is because I'm having difficulty it means that I'm not succeeding when the reality is some of the most Biblically grounded and thriving and flowering families think they're failing and they think they're failing because it's very difficult and they're facing all sorts of challenges," he continues.
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Moore says his books typically grow out of the questions he's working through as a husband, father, and pastor and family issues, he says, are constant.
"Family is not just a biological accident. Family is picturing something. God is picturing in the family the fatherhood of God. He's picturing, in the family, the Gospel – the union of Christ and his Church, the newness of new birth – all of those things are pictured within the family structure."
We need to fight the trend and turn to the church rather than turning away, Moore writes.
Also, instead of dividing ourselves into groups like singles, young married couples, and seniors he suggests we need to rely on each other because we all face similar problems.