If you ditch the family, you ditch love

21 June 2024

Sean Redfearn comments that as flourishing societies rely on humans loving one another; our culture is in decline right now because of its rejection of the greatest representations of true love: the family and the Church

As the culture descends into greater chaos year-on-year, it does so while continuously rejecting what the Bible teaches us about the love of God.

True ‘love’ is not conditional, but our culture lives as if it is.

“I’ll love you … only if you love me and don’t wrong me.”

Thank God that Jesus didn’t treat me like that.

What is true love?

True love is grounded in forgiveness. It is committed, abundant, and free.

We see true love in its purest form at the very heart of the Christian message. Jesus forgives us on the cross (Rom. 5:8), so that those sinners who repent and believe can become sons and daughters of God, born again into his spiritual family (John 1:12-13) and know him as “Father” (Rom. 8:15).

It pays to stop and think about this fact regularly: God became a human (Phil. 2:6-8).

And not just that, he became a baby (Isaiah 7:14).

And not just that, he chose to come from a rural town (John 1:45-46), work with his hands (Mark 6:3), and eventually face humanity’s most brutal form of execution (1 Cor. 1:23) after being falsely accused (Mark 14:55-59) and betrayed by the people who were supposed to love him the most (Mark 14:44, 50).

That is the God we worship. The very heart of the Christian message is that God himself stepped into his world as a man, and humbled himself in order to save the very people who trample on his Name.

That’s love.

That’s crazy, off-the-charts, amazing love – displayed by the most rational and calculated Being in the universe.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NIV)

Christianity is the most successful movement of all time because it has true love at its core. Its love is quite literally from another dimension.

Christianity’s message of love shook the world (Acts 17:6).

Nations, including our own, which grounded themselves in the Christian ethic of love are the most prosperous in history.

Humans thrive where love abounds.

So why does our culture seem so hell-bent on abandoning the Christian way?

Church and family are representations of true love

Christianity is often associated with ‘family’.

‘Family’ is a big deal in the Bible.

While it is redundant to say that the Bible uses the language of family to describe the many biological relationships that are within its pages, the Bible also uses familial language to describe the relationship that our triune God has with himself.

On top of this, there is familial language used to describe the relationships that Christians have with each another – you can barely turn a page in the New Testament letters without seeing people from the early Church refer to one another as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.

In addition, we read this famous encounter with Jesus himself, in Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV):

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Have you ever called a close friend “brother” or “sister”? You can thank Christianity for that innovation.

Jesus in no way suggests that he has a low view of biological family – after all, he pre-determinatively chose to be born into one, where his mother would be by his side right up to his death (John 19:25), and where he would have four biological brothers and multiple sisters (Mark 6:3).

Jesus merely teaches us that there can be nothing more important to us in our life, not even our own family members, than God.

But God created physical families and intended them to be a major life blessing (Gen. 1:28).

In fact, the early Christian adoption of familial language to refer to one another actually demonstrates the power of connection that there naturally is between ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ and ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’ and so-on.

If there were nothing unique and esteemed about the connection between physical family members, then the early Christians wouldn’t have adopted these biological terms to refer to one another.

Christianity adopted familial language into the fibre of its being as it went out and changed the world.

You need the context of ‘physical family’ to enrich the meaning of ‘spiritual family’.

And as the early Christians loved one another like a family, regardless of status and stature; they drew in converts.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor. 12:22, 26 NIV)

Families – physical and spiritual – that love one another unconditionally are emblematic of God’s love for us.

This pure form of love is deeply attractive to all of us.

And so the societal breakdown of both the physical family, and the correlated decrease in church attendance (spiritual family), is one of our biggest tragedies.

If you break down the greatest representation of love that our world has (the family – physical and spiritual), is it any wonder that you then witness the decline of a society?

Pray that true love would ground our nation

Pray that Jesus’ love would transform many lives, including our political leaders’ lives (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Pray that strong families – physical and spiritual – would increase and be raised up by God.

Without Jesus, this world has no concept of true love.

But the family, and the Church, can bring that message.

It has to.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV)

  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.