As the Family Goes, so Goes the Nation

Is there one strategy to curing the evils in our world today? Could extreme poverty, government corruption, terrorism, genocidal wars, and other atrocities be stamped out in one fell swoop? In a word, yes.

Change the world’s families – and you’ll change the world.

That’s it. That’s all it would take. It’s both that simple and that complicated.

Where government policies have disappointed and backfired…

Where economic movements have waned away…

Where social experiments have failed to deliver on their promise…

Where nonprofit and social institutions have hit a wall…

The family has always been the surest catalyst for cultural, political, and economic reform.

If you don’t like the way things are, change the family, and society will follow.

“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Pope John Paul II

But how does the current state of families determine the health of a society?

Why are schools and universities insufficient to teach truth, principles, and morality?

Why can’t we rely on political imperatives and programs to navigate us out of the quagmires of poverty, economic stagnation, and moral degradation?

The halls of higher education and government may shape our thinking – but character is formed in the living room.

It is in the tight, intimate space of the home where behavior patterns, habits, and worldview are forged. And these are the building blocks of a person’s life.

People as persons are not engineered in a lab.

The thought patterns, emotional responses, and spiritual life of a person are nurtured within the natural environment of a family.

Of course, this can be for the good or for the bad.

If the average family is trapped in cycles of abuse, then its society will be full of people who abuse others.

If the average family is gutted by absent parents, then society will experience waves of hollow people unable to sustain healthy, intimate relationships.

However, if the average family is a community of mutual love, then society will enjoy the blessing of a generation who is out to give rather than take.

If the average family is a place where truth and honesty are expressed daily, then society will be led by people with integrity.

If people are rivers, then families are the watershed.

Individuals “flow” out into society from their families and effect all kinds of changes, again, for good or for bad.

If the watershed is healthy, then the river will carry healthy elements out to the rest of the world. If the watershed is polluted, then the river will be a carry those contaminates to all the shores it touches.

In the same way, individuals that were formed in healthy families will bring the ideals and precepts that formed them to the world they touch later as adults.

And here is where the link between the Genesis Commission (Genesis 1:27-28) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is firmly established.

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, yet the family is the vehicle that transmits the Gospel from generation to generation and to every level of society.

In a wholistic reading of Scripture, we see that God desires to transform individuals by His grace, and then through them create dynasties of godly men and women who go on to transform their world.

The Christian family is designed to be the watershed that produces new individuals who “flow” out into all the world carrying with them the Truth in which their worldview was formed.

The Gospel transforms the individual. The family transforms the nation.

Healthy, spiritually alive families begin with the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual(s).

But the families of the individual(s) then must be built up through biblical teaching, the support of their communities, and a daily commitment to lay aside one’s own interests for the good of the family.

Only when the family has been strengthened through this arduous process can the Gospel produce fruit for generations into the future.

For this reason, after God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, He commanded them to invest their lives into the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual formation of their children.

“These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart.

You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Deuteronomy 6:6 (TLV)

God saved His people, and then desired to create a holy nation from their offspring to carry His light to the world.

But when Israel failed to teach their children diligently in the ways of the Lord, their downfall was soon to come within two generations or so.

Families like that of Eli, the high priest who did not discipline his children, fell into corruption and their iniquity tainted the nation.

Despite having the truth, Eli did not maintain the health of the watershed, the family, which produced his sons.

To bring a soul to salvation trough the preaching of the Gospel without training him or her to lead their family into the experience of following Christ is a sure way to kill the move of God in the years to come.

Around the world, we see whole societies that were impacted strongly by the preaching of the Gospel only later to fall into decadence and spiritual blindness.

The cold hearts of secularists in Europe were cultivated in homes that claimed to be Christian, but had no love for God and no daily intimacy with the Holy Spirit. These polluted watersheds produced generations of people do not know or love the truth.

The entire system of society, government, and culture of the United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Yet today its people are leaving the Church in droves and frantically trying to extract God from every crevice of public life.

“How the mighty have fallen!”

This was the cry of David when the family of Saul was slain. He wept over the death of a great family.

Then David chanted this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and ordered that the sons of Judah be taught the “Song of the Bow.” (Behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar): “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!” — 2 Samuel 1:17-19 (TLV)

So, we too, weep over the death of millions of homes who’s spiritual life have been “slain” by a cunning enemy.

But all is not lost.

Still today, God is seeking to produce a holy nation through you and me as we build our families by His command.

Your family can be a watershed that produces rivers of life to heal our world today.


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About the Author:

Joseph is the Executive Director of Genesis Commission who's chief aim in life is to love his wife and children well, raise up fruitful families, and make a better cup of coffee every morning.

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