Is There Info on Dysfunctional Families in the Bible?

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Can you provide informa­tion on dysfunctional families in the Bible?

The Bible’s first family — Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel — was dysfunctional. Because of the parents’ sin and sibling rivalry, they lost their home, and one brother killed another.

The most prominent family in the Bible — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. — was mildly dysfunctional or worse. Read of the strife between Sarah and Hagar, between Jacob and Esau. Jacob had two wives and other women who bore his children, providing constant tension in his home. The record of Jacob’s twelve sons is strewn with deception, jealousy, violence, immorality, and revenge.

One of the Bible’s most-loved characters is King David, yet few homes and families were more troubled than his: multiple wives, rebellious children, adultery, murder, etc.

If there is less dysfunction in the New Testament, it may be only because the New is much shorter and doesn’t report up close on families as the Old Testament does.

While some homes resist evil influences fairly well, all families are dysfunctional to some extent. Since God fathered Adam and Eve, no human family has had perfect parents, and none have raised perfect children. Every one of us is tainted by sin, and we pass on our dysfunctions to the next generation no matter how hard we try. The difference between fami­lies is mostly in the degree of dysfunction. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that, by the grace of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit through the Word, we have opportunity for more victory over domestic dysfunction than most families have yet experienced. Turn to God. Trust in Christ, and repent of known sin — the breaking of His law. Practice the truth of God’s Word in every area. Learn to love, accept, forgive, and serve others like Christ, starting at home!

A few scriptures to help you fight family dysfunction: Genesis 2; Exodus 20; Psalm 127 and 128; Proverbs (all); Matthew 5, 6, 7, 15, and 19; Luke 15; John 13-17; Romans 12—14; Ephesians 5 and 6; Colossians 3 and 4; Titus 2; James (all); 1 Peter 3; and 1 John 1 and 2.

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.