二○二○年五月九日／五月十日 Click here for English version
Rev Maggie Tang
Why do people get married? Why set up a family? Can the families nowadays let the next generation experience the true value of family and set an example for them of how to build a family?
When a boy and a girl begins the search for a partner, they usually set out for passionate, unending love for life. After more mutual understanding and getting together, they find that romance aside, they need faith that is embraced by both in order to really build up each other's life and be each other's support.
Being a family involves living together. Some key elements include: mutual respect and appreciation; trust and understanding; readiness to admit mistakes and to forgive and accept each other. The emphasis is on 'living together.' A shared life needs to be cultivated in a family setting and in the relationship among family members. It is not easy to sustain family life. There are two or more people with different habits and preferences interacting at different levels. For the two persons from different families of origin alone, differences in taste and insistence on personal habits can create a lot of conflicts. Again, in tackling conflicts, can our families set a good example for the next generation?
In the search for guidance on marriage and family, Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount is worth Christians' careful study.
In Matthew 5, Jesus talked to His disciples about their style of living. It is not specifically on having a good marriage or healthy family but the principles of discipleship are also integral to marriage and family. For Christians, shouldn't we live out the life of disciples at home? Matthew 5:23-24 says that we should be reconciled to our brother or sister before offering our gift at the altar. In the family context, this means stopping conflicts and seeking peace. Matthew 5:27-28 says that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery. In the family, therefore, we must reject adultery and any acts that betray the husband, wife or children. The potential damage is colossal. Matthew 5:37 says, "All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'..." In the family context, this means doing what you say you will do and not going back on your word. This is especially important to the relationship between husband and wife as well as parents and children. Matthew 5:38-41 says do not take revenge while 5:43-48 says love your enemies. Both teach us to treat people with kindness. As such, how can we be unkind to our family?
Back to our earlier question. Where can our next generation learn family togetherness? First, we need to learn from the church community where disciples live together. Of course, the church also grows through trial and error. But the most important thing is that the church is awakened to the fact that this is the command of Jesus Christ and the church's mission. The church community is where we continually learn family life in order to build families as they should be.