If I were to ask you what is destroying the family, what would you say? Without a doubt, there are numerous influences having a destructive effect on families these days. But there are four that stand out from the rest. Each is so subtle that few recognize them until they are pointed out. When they are, there is instant agreement. See what you think.
To build anything of lasting value requires much time, effort, expense, and commitment. What is of greater value than our family? But the sad fact is that far too many of us are just too busy to build a strong family. We are ruled by schedules. Our inability to prioritize our lives in harmony with God’s order is devastating. We don’t seem to know how or when to say “No.” Things of lesser importance are crowding out things of greater importance. Hobbies, sports leagues, clubs, several jobs, career pursuits, and even church-related activities are robbing us of valuable time and energy that should be invested in building a strong family for God.
Often, busyness is just an escape. It can be a very subtle way of distracting us from realities we do not want to face. But whether it is an escape or a distraction, it is usually a disaster! Busyness is characteristic of our restless age. Somehow we equate a crowded schedule with success or importance, which only proves how distorted our views have become. There is one major problem with the “rat race” – the rats are winning and the family is losing!
What we really need to learn is how to slow down and find out who we are, why we are here, who our family is, and that what God says is really important. In His Word He says:
“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 KJV).
“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isa. 30:15).
“Better is a handful with quietness, than both hands full with travail and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 4:6).
“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:26).
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31).
You see, it takes time to build a relationship with the Lord. And it takes time to build strong family relationships that will withstand the problems and pressures of life. The tragic story of Eli and his two wicked sons (1 Sam. 2:12-36) is the account of a man who was not really too bad, he was just too busy!
Is busyness destroying your family by its subtle invasion? If so, you need to get alone with God, take a very serious look at the things that are driving you, and make a commitment that you will reorganize your priorities according to His order.
Not only are our families being ruled by demanding schedules, we are also being controlled by the quest for material possessions. Materialism is very destructive to the family. It places possessions before more important things, like relationships. It causes the family to go without things they really need for the sake of things they simply want. We all could afford to live with a lot fewer things than we have.
Materialism is worshipping our possessions instead of God. God tells us in His Word that anything which comes between us and Him is an “idol.” Because we are determined to keep up with others and enjoy the “good life,” we become enslaved financially. We spend what we don’t have for things we often don’t need. Credit cards, borrowing, and high interest rates make the borrower servant to the lender.
Some of the most unhappy families in town are those who have the most possessions, but are never satisfied. So often in our desire for material things, we end up losing our family. In a survey among marriage counselors across America, the number one cause of broken homes is financial problems. Tragically, those financial burdens are often self-imposed. But God says:
“Thou shalt not covet” (Ex. 20:17).
“Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
“Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).
“Be content with such things as ye have” (Heb. 13:5).
“But my God shall supply all of your need” (Phil. 4:19).
In Joshua 7, it was greed for material things that drove Achan to disobedience, that cost Israel a victory, that cost Achan his family, and that ultimately cost him his life. And so it often is with us in our desire to have more of the biggest and the best. We sacrifice our family for temporal things that are of no eternal value. We need to carefully evaluate our attitude toward material things. A wrong view of them could end up costing us a lot more than we are willing to pay – our family!
Vance Havner wrote that “Pleasure is the devil’s substitute for the joy of the Lord.” Many of God’s people live for recreation, relaxation, early retirement, restful weekends and long vacations – in short, anything that will fill up the emptiness in their lives. Now don’t misunderstand me; there is nothing wrong with having a good time. We all need some relaxation and good, clean fun now and then. It is good for us in our stressed-out world.
But if pleasure becomes more important than God, we are in big trouble, and so is our family. Life is a very serious matter, and pleasure has a way of keeping us from taking life seriously. We go through life laughing on the outside and crying on the inside. Our families are hurting, but to avoid reality we become pleasure addicts. Oh how we hate to face our problems! We do anything to avoid being honest with ourselves. “Laugh it off and hopefully it will go away,” we say. But it doesn’t. And all the pleasure in the world will not take it away.
We need to hear what God has to say in His Word:
It says that “men shall be … lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).
It says that the truth of God is choked by the “riches and pleasures of this life” (Lk. 8:14).
It says that those who live in pleasure are dead while they live (1 Tim. 5:6).
It says that “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man” (Prov. 21:17).
When pleasure becomes our goal and our God, we are going to suffer too. But the suffering is not usually isolated; it ends up taking in our whole family. Living for pleasure always takes us a lot further than we ever intended to go. Pleasure is like a wild horse; you never know when it is going to run off with you. Let God be your pleasure. Let His Word delight your soul. Let His blessing give you your greatest joy in life.
A noted Christian leader recently concluded that “Television programming is polluting the souls and brainwashing the minds of our young people, and destroying the spirit of our homes.” Television is the pipeline through which the sewage of this world flows right into our homes!
We understand that anyone who speaks out against the evils of television and the Internet are usually branded a radical. But most Christians agree that something has to be done to stop the unchecked flow of evil that is being thrust upon TV/Internet-oriented families. Some suggest that we implement stiff controls on our viewing habits. But the truth is that in most homes, the TV and Internet are in control! We don’t control them, they control us! Perhaps you have never considered some of their harmful effects:
They are time robbers.
They allow continual exposure to evil.
They deaden our sensitivity to sin.
They are the most socially acceptable forms of addiction.
They enable the thoughts, philosophies, values, etc. of the programs and websites to subconsciously become ours.
They are a huge reason why so many families are in trouble today. We sit and watch the things that are destroying us!
But God says not to set any wicked thing before our eyes (Ps. 101:3), and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:3-13). We are to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous (Phil. 4:8). We are to be wise concerning that which is good and simple concerning evil (Rom. 16:19).
If you want to test the influence of TV/Internet on your family, try not to watch anything for two weeks. We think you will make an amazing discovery – that it’s very hard! Use some creativity and see what alternatives you can come up with to replace the TV/Internet. If you are like many Christian families, you may find at the end of your test that you are closer to each other and to the Lord. It’s worth a try.
Isn’t it time for you to take a serious look at these four areas and see how they are affecting your home? If you really want your family to be what God wants it to be, you are going to have to deal with your busyness, your view of materialism, your pleasures, and your viewing of television/Internet. There are lots more things to consider of course, but these four are a good place to start.
By Jack Palmer