Dysfunctional Families

We hear this phrase a lot, dysfunctional families. No one should be surprised. The Bible begins with a breakdown in family between Adam and Eve, continues with Cain and Abel, Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah.

But, probably, there is no greater dysfunction than the family of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Esau. A marriage and family counselor could have a field day with them. We're going to meet them this Sunday as we continue our sermon series on the foundational stories of Genesis. In a world of competing narratives, how does the Christian story stand up and above the other narratives? 

Come this Sunday, invite a friend, and see how we find ourselves in one of the several characters from Genesis 25. Isaac is finally married. Rebecca is finally pregnant. Yet, there is trouble in her womb as her two twin boys struggle and fight each other in utero. But, wait, there’s more! A prophecy is given that these two boys will struggle and that the older will serve the younger, the stronger will serve the weaker. They will actually become two nations. Then, top this, Isaac favors Esau while Rebecca favored Jacob. What a set up for a soap opera of family dysfunction.

Of course, we know, all families have dysfunction. Some more toxic than others. There is a way through it. We will also hear about that hope and reality as we look ahead for the good news of Jesus Christ, and how, through the Holy Spirit, he can redeem all of our dysfunctional family lives.

In his book, “Generation to Generation”, Edwin Friedman relates the structure of families to an electrical circuit. Your family is either wired as a series circuit or a parallel circuit. In a series circuit, electricity has to travel to each lightbulb before completing the circuit. If any one light bulb burns out the circle will not be complete. In the parallel circuit, there is a complete circuit through each individual lightbulb meaning that even if any bulb burns out it will not affect the flow of electricity through the other bulbs. If a family is like the series circuit, anytime a problem or crisis happens the whole family breaks down. There is no one to take leadership. This is linear thinking. Members of a family need to differentiate themselves from the others in order to create a more parallel system.

Differentiation means the capacity of a family member to define his or her own life’s goals and values apart from surrounding togetherness pressures and includes the capacity to maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of anxious systems. To take maximum responsibility for one’s own destiny and emotional being. Come to find out more this Sunday as we deal with the topic that involves all of us. Invite a friend!


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