Finding the Key to Family Happiness
1, 2. What fine things can wholesome family life provide? So what questions might be raised?
MANY human needs for happiness can be satisfied in the family circle. There we may find the things that all of us normally yearn for: to feel needed, to be appreciated, to be loved. A warm family relationship can fill these longings in a wonderful way. It can produce an atmosphere of trust, understanding and compassion. Home then becomes a real haven of rest from outside troubles and turmoil. Children can feel secure and their personalities can blossom out to their full potential.
2 This is family life as we would like to see it lived. But none of this comes automatically. How can it be attained? Why is it that family life is in such deep trouble today in many parts of the world? What is the key that makes the difference between marital happiness and marital misery, between a family that is warm and united and one that is cold and divided?
3. What do the facts of history reveal about the importance of the family?
3 If you feel deep concern for the welfare and success of your family, it is with good reason. Describing the importance of the family arrangement, The World Book Encyclopedia (1973) says:
“Family is the oldest human institution. In many ways it is the most important. It is society’s most basic unit. Entire civilizations have survived or disappeared, depending on whether family life was strong or weak.”
4, 5. What undesirable attitudes have you observed in many families?
4 But how many families today are close-knit with strong bonds of love? How many enjoy the warmth that mutual expressions of kindness, gratitude and generosity bring? How many have learned the truth of the saying, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”?
5 Today a very different spirit is spreading throughout the earth. Though prominent in the Western world, it is also penetrating into the Orient and other places where family life has traditionally been quite stable. Included in current views are: ‘Do what you want to, and let others look out for themselves.’ ‘Discipline is old-fashioned; let children choose their own course.’ ‘Make no judgments of what is right or wrong.’ In more and more countries divorce, juvenile delinquency and adult immorality are rising at an alarming rate. Psychologists, psychiatrists, clergymen and other counselors give advice. But instead of fortifying the unity of the family, many advisers condone or even recommend immorality as a means to relieve frustration. The bad harvest from all of this confirms the saying: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”
HISTORY SUPPORTS THE FAMILY ARRANGEMENT
6. How does what happened in ancient Greece and Rome illustrate the importance of the family?
6 The lessons history teaches about the importance of the family merit serious attention. In Part II of The Story of Civilization, historian Will Durant describes the collapse of the family in ancient Greece, then continues: “The essential cause of the Roman conquest of Greece was the disintegration of Greek civilization from within.” He then goes on to show that the strength of Rome was the family, but when the family arrangement broke down because of sexual immorality, the empire went into decline.
7. Why did certain persons in the Roman Empire enjoy wholesome family life whereas others were experiencing serious problems?
7 In reality, history confirms the ancient saying, “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” But it also indicates that there is a source beyond human wisdom that can be looked to for direction, with the result that the family unit prospers. Historians report that, while the Roman Empire decayed, “the family life of the Jews was exemplary, and the little Christian communities were troubling the pleasure-mad pagan world with their piety and decency.” (The Story of Civilization, Part III, p. 366) What made these families distinctive? They had a different source of guidance, the Bible. To the extent that they applied its counsel as the Word of God, to that extent they enjoyed wholesome, peaceful families. Those results gave the decadent Roman world guilt feelings.
8. When it comes to solving family problems, why does the Bible deserve our attention? (Psalm 119:100-105)
8 The sayings quoted in earlier paragraphs are also from the Bible. In that book we find Jesus Christ’s words that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving, the inspired apostle Paul’s statement that we will reap what we sow, and the declaration of God’s prophet Jeremiah that it does not belong to man to direct his steps. (Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:7; Jeremiah 10:23) These Bible principles have proved true. Jesus also said: “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” (Matthew 11:19) If the Bible’s counsel really works in solving family problems, does it not deserve our respectful attention?
9, 10. (a) Why are helpful suggestions and natural affection not enough to enable one to enjoy a happy family life? (b) What else is needed? (Revelation 4:11)
9 Today, there are thousands of publications dealing with marriage and family life. Most contain at least some helpful information. Yet family life keeps deteriorating. Something more is needed, something that will give strength to resist the pressures that now threaten the family circle. Natural affection between a husband and wife and between parents and children gives strength. But even this is not proving to be enough to hold many families together when times of crisis arrive. What more is needed?
10 There needs to be not only a sense of responsibility and devotion to one’s mate or children or parents. Along with that, there needs to be an even greater sense of responsibility to the One of whom the Bible speaks as “the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.” That One is the Originator of marriage and family life, mankind’s Creator, Jehovah God.—Ephesians 3:14, 15.
GOD’S INTEREST IN THE FAMILY ARRANGEMENT
11-13. What is God’s purpose regarding the earth and the human family?
11 Jehovah God knows mankind’s needs and he wants us to be happy, so he gives us counsel on family life. But a grander purpose than this is reflected in his concern for families. The Bible explains what that purpose is. It shows that the earth did not just happen. We did not just happen. Jehovah God created the earth, purposed that it would exist forever and that it would be inhabited forever. The prophet Isaiah recorded: “He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, . . . formed it even to be inhabited.”—Isaiah 45:18.
12 To accomplish his purpose, God created the first human pair and told them to have a family: “Male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.’” (Genesis 1:27, 28) His purpose further required them and their offspring to obey him and to take care of the earth. Genesis 2:15 states: “Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it.” Eventually those gardenlike conditions would be extended to embrace the entire globe. Caring for the earth and using its resources would provide the earth-wide family of mankind with unending opportunities to learn and to find satisfaction in using their capabilities.
13 Now over 4,000,000,000 people are on the earth, but these multitudes do not fulfill Jehovah’s purpose for the earth. The majority do not obey him, nor do they care for the earth. Instead, they ruin it, polluting its air, water and soil. In harmony with God’s original purpose, he foretold not only that he would stop all of this, but also that he would “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Revelation 11:18.
QUESTIONS WE NEED TO FACE
14. Why can we be confident that God’s purpose regarding family life will not fail?
14 God’s purpose regarding the earth and family life will not fail. “My word that goes forth from my mouth . . . will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted,” he declares. (Isaiah 55:11) God instituted the family arrangement and gave counsel for its operation. His guidelines answer the truly important questions on family life—some of which you may face.
15-17. (a) What do you consider to be some of the really important questions on family life? (b) Why is it good to find satisfying answers to these questions?
15 For example: How does a person find a compatible mate for marriage? In marriage, how may agreement be reached on thorny problems? Two minds are better than one, but, after consultation, which one makes the decisions? How can a husband get his wife’s respect, and why is this important to him? Why does a wife need her husband’s love, and what can she do to assure it?
16 How do you view children? Some view them as a status symbol, a source of inexpensive labor or old-age insurance; others view them as a burden. But the Bible calls them a blessing. What determines whether they will prove to be that? And when should their training start? Should there be discipline? If so, how much, and what kind? Must there be a generation gap within the family? Can it be closed? Better still, can it be prevented from ever opening up?
17 Finding the satisfying answers to these questions will do much to assure the happiness of your family life. More than that, it can give you the confidence that there is One of unsurpassed strength, kindness and wisdom to whom you can turn in any time of need, and who can guide your family to never-ending happiness.
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