Family

Family Is the Greatest Work of Love

October 17, 2020 by

This past week The American Conservative, American Principles Project, and the Bruderhof presented a virtual event, Whole Life: A Common Sense Agenda for Strengthening the American Family. Heinrich Arnold made the introductory remarks:

We are here today to speak about the most important conservation effort of our time – that is to rescue, strengthen, and preserve the family as the healthy and thriving garden bed of society and humanity. The family is indeed on top of the endangered species list. For a long time, our environment has been hostile towards family and children in particular. There are so many distractions and disruptions in our lives and culture that are not healthy and wholesome for family and children. It is time to change our thinking and policy towards strengthening, rather than dismantling, family. This truth is for everybody, of every faith, as illustrated by this quote from Confucius who lived five hundred years before Christ: “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first set our hearts right.”

family readingPhoto by Danny Burrows.

For me, representing the Bruderhof, it is a privilege and an honor to engage in this conversation, to have the opportunity to witness to the importance of family as God created it – that is the living cell, the most basic unit of the cycle of life. God intended family not only for creating life but for sustaining life, nurturing it, providing, protecting, teaching, disciplining, healing, celebrating, grieving, and passing it on from one generation to the next. According to God’s design, marriage – a man and a woman faithful in love to each other – is the core of family, and children are the intended fruit. Their formation and education are the most important vocation of family. Of course family is not just about children. A wholesome family is also there for the extended family; to tend to the weak and sick members; it is there to care for elders at the end of their journey, in gratitude for their work and legacy; it is there to provide hospitality to strangers and welcome guests; it is there to participate in building community and neighborhoods. A healthy family brings out the best in everybody.

My family is not perfect. Maybe yours isn’t either. But we can work to build a better stronger family, as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation. We can encourage each other. We can teach our children the importance of family, of faith, and obedience to God. We can give time to love and mentor the lonely and hurt without family, or who have lost family. We can adopt a son or a daughter or other family member. It will be hard to get family back on track in our culture. But it is easier to do it together than alone. Frederick Douglass once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” But there is hope even for broken men and women. There is much work to be done; work of faith, work of love. It is the Lord’s work.

Family is the greatest work of love.

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