Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Family series #9: Broken Families

Although I am not a Mennonite, I ministered in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for many years and learned to know and love many Mennonites. One godly and effective mission cause I came across is Northern Youth Programs, a Mennonite ministry to the natives of Northern Ontario, Canada. This ministry is led by Clair and Clara Schnupp. For over twenty years my wife and I have been reading their letters and praying for their ministry. Their letter this month touched my heart and I would like to share parts of it with you. It concerns the broken families among whom they patiently and lovingly minister.

Now here is part of their letter.

“At Christmas time Clara and I were at a Schnupp family gathering that included my brother and sister and their spouses, our five daughters and their husbands and our twenty-one grandchildren. For about five hours we also had our only living biological uncle and aunt with us. We had them tell stories about their lives and stories of their generation.

All this family togetherness was refreshing and spiritually uplifting. I thank God for our family heritage and the family tree. All within the family structure know where they fit or belong and how they relate to each other.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. While there are those here in the North whom we work with who have intact families, many of those who come to us for help come from broken homes, common-law relationships or single parent families. Some young people have eight to twelve “grandparents,” numerous “uncles” and “aunts” and many step- or half brothers and sisters. Their family trees are very difficult to diagram, illustrating much disconnectedness, pain and emotional confusion. There are those who do not know who their biological relatives are and hence do not know who they can and cannot marry.

Others do not know who their biological father or mother is. Some who come to us for help have never bonded with anyone and end up having no one they feel they belong to. They are utterly alone in this world. They have no experienced family togetherness. This creates many spiritual, emotional and moral problems which only generates more broken relationships. This often results in more children entering a new cycle of brokenness and misery.

While we rejoice for the good families around us, sometimes we retire at night in tears for the lonely, hurting people who have such broken, painful and nonexistent families. Their family heritage leaves them little or nothing to relate to. They are alone and desperately seeking a place to find some sense of belonging.

As homosexuality and lesbianism have increased in western society, we meet an increasing number of young men and women who do not like their gender and even hate their sexuality. Many of these fear marriage and any kind of commitment. The ability to make commitments and to trust others are two essential ingredients to building strong, healthy Biblical families.

All of these family problems are compounded by various segments of society in Canada and the United States moving ahead with gay rights and same-sex marriages. Many of us have become burdened with the spiritual, moral and societal decay, as evidenced by the debate over gay rights and same-sex marriages. The present emotionally charged debate is not over human rights. From our point of view, the real debate is about a Biblical view of marriage. It is about preserving the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of marriage.

There are those who want to extend the rights and privileges of marriage to gays and lesbians and are trying to force same-sex marriage upon society. These people wish to abolish the definition of marriage that limits one man to one woman. They are using the courts to present their case as a human rights issue equal to racism. One article I read stated that traditional marriage is terrible discrimination and can be compared to the discrimination of race-based washrooms. It described traditional marriage as vile and disgusting like racial segregation and apartheid.

In the face of these attacks, it was refreshing to read a quote from a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who said,

“Marriage has from time immemorial been firmly grounded in our legal tradition, one that is itself a reflection of longstanding philosophical and religious traditions. But its ultimate [reason for being] transcends all of these and is firmly anchored in the biological and social realities that heterosexual couples have the unique ability to procreate, that most children are the product of these relationships, and that they are generally cared for and nurtured by those who live in that relationship. In this sense, marriage is by nature heterosexual.”

As I read this letter, I stopped to thank God for my family and for the unity, love and joy we have because of our relationship with Christ. It has increased my burden for the broken, hurting families all around me who need Christ and His healing touch.

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May 20, 2006 - Posted by | Family Series

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