by the Rev. Mark Connolly
At this time I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the subject of your family. All of us know there are many attacks and many assaults being waged against our family value system especially our religious value system. With that thought in mind I would like, during the course of these few moments that I have with you, to impart some ideas that will help keep our family more united and more solid and more in tune with the mind of Christ concerning family loyalty.
With all the mistakes and the foibles that a family has for the most part, there is still no place like home. When we hear about all the assaults being made on the family today by different kinds of philosophies and psychologies, you really wonder why the family and how the family survives as well as it does. Is this age more assaulted than ages past? Are our family values being more attacked than in previous ages? In order to be able to understand these questions, you have to look back on the history of the family in the last 200 years.
It is fine to be nostalgic and somehow think that family life was better then, but in many cases it was not. Every age has had its share of pressure, financial, moral and ethical and all of them have hit the families in different ways. If you go back to the early days of our country, the family was just a minimal labor force for the industries that came into the area where they were living. We all know of the father of the home who worked in conditions that were inhumane and filled with drudgery. We all know their life span was shorter. We know that human labor, human life, was a cheap commodity. If you read much of Charles Dickens, you can compare what he wrote about the exploitation of the family in his time with the same exploitation that has been taking place in our country for the past 200 years. At times it is amazing that the families of certain ages ever survived. The family was dispensable. The factories ground down the worker. The mining places in our country were horrible places which caused the dehumanization of the bread winner of the home. The woman of the home had no better lot either. Hers, too, was a life of domesticate drudgery that reduced her to raising children, working long hours and having very little joy to show at the end of her lifetime which was by the way considerably shorter.
Every age has its assaults and attacks on the family. Every age finds new experiments for different kinds of family structures. We have the communes, the kibbutz, we have the Hare-Krishna family structures, the kind of family living held out by Rev. Moon. As one sociologist has said, these new and varied home styles or family styles last as long as some of the smaller business that rise and fall in our country. If you study the field of literature you will soon find that the oldest tragedies in literature are mostly centered around the family. The tragedy of the family of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, right down to the tragedies of Hamlet and MacBeth are all interwoven with one unit, namely the family. All kinds of themes will be preached concerning the various assaults made on the family structure, but the one I would like to stress today is the importance of working harder at your family life, to make it stronger and more powerful in the face of all assaults that are being made. This is particularly important for young people to understand if they ever want to start their own family on the right foot.
It is what is called spontaneous and unconditional loyalty. Let me explain. You have all heard the expression, blood is thicker than water. For the most part that is true. But how does this affect your family life? On the day when your mother and father exchanged their marriage vows they made an unconditional exchange between each other that for better or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, they could do the best by each other and the best by you that they could. You have benefited from the loyalty that they have shown to each other over the years. None of us could have ever survived our infancy if it had not been for that loyalty that existed between our parents. It was a bond of blood that gave us the opportunity to survive infancy, childhood, adolescence and teenage life. Their love and their loyalty worked hand in hand. The loyalty and love that they exchanged between each other for better or worse benefited us. We do not deserve it because of what we have done. We do not deserve it because we are entitled to it. We were given that charity, that compassion and that love as we were growing up because of the love and loyalty of our parents to each other. We entered their love, their circle of kinship in the pledge of concern for us was made by them. We hungered and we were fed. We cried and we were comforted. We were in danger and we were defended. Nobody in the family circle asked why or if they owed us a favor.
When you think of it, the kindness we cry out for is there. It is given. Each of us is born into a family that is spontaneously beholden to us for no better reason for we are its young. This quality of love and loyalty is something that we can never take for granted. In a country such as ours where we see so many things that discourage us from being loyal, we can never forget that the home in which we lived will thrive because of the loyalty we cultivated. The home that we live in now is more than just a place to come when we are tired or in need of help. It is a place that enables our patterns of life to be developed. That will be passed on to our own homes. Loyalty to our family name, loyalty even when life at home does not always go our way, this is the test each person is confronted with in growing up.
Every age will always find the home being assaulted. The families that survive are those where loyalty is practiced personally by each person. All of us can blame television for being partially destructive to our value system. We can blame the economy for making things financially difficult at home, but when it comes to preventing the family from really being hurt, when it comes to preventing the family from going under, there is no greater virtue than personal loyalty to your family structure. It does not take too long for any adult to know often too late in life that in the business and social world in which we live, we can never equal the type of protection we have from people who have sheltered us and protected us through the loyalty they showed us while at home.
Loyalty is what Christ asked of his disciples. Loyalty is what we have to show to each member of our family if our family is to become a more Christlike family.