Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

Sort of Independent Yet Powerfully Impotent

That Jesus became a member of a family, even allowing two of His creatures to have authority over Him, speaks volumes of how important the human family truly is. Jesus being the Son of Mary and the foster Son of Joseph is not the only divine witness to the centrality of the family. God created us to be members of families and to relate to one another in the context of the family. Adam was incomplete without Eve and he knew it. He immediately recognized her as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Gen 2:23) and they were intended to live as husband and wife, becoming so closely bound to one another as to be one flesh. The one flesh union was not meant to be a many-flesh or multi-flesh union. Moses allowed for divorce and God tolerated it because of the hardness of mankind’s heart (Mt 19:8), but it was never God’s idea that we would marry and remarry on a temporary basis. In fact God made His stance on divorce crystal clear through the prophet Malachi: “Did He not make them one, with flesh and spirit? And what does the One require? Godly offspring! You should be on guard, then, for your life, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel” (Mal 2:15-16). Just like God disliked but tolerated polygamy in the early epochs of mankind’s development, divorce was something that never found divine blessing or approval.

While we seem to have put polygamy behind us, at least for the last 2500 years or so, we have not done so with divorce primarily because of our hardened hearts. Recently, however, our hearts are hardening to the point where some would condone or even promote a return to polygamy or even polyandry. With the divorce and remarriage culture of today, we essentially have serial polygamy and serial polyandry where a man has several wives, only one at a time, and a woman might have several husbands, only one at a time. Thus, it looks like it will be a matter of time before we begin tolerating outright polygamy and polyandry. With marriage wrongly understood as a man-made institution, essentially a legal contract, and the family subject to cultural whims, it is just a matter of time before the God-ordained family – husband, wife, and children – becomes a quaint or even reviled relic of the past.

How did we get here? How did we get here so quickly? The simple answer is that we are increasingly alienated from God and His ways resulting in a further hardening of our hearts. The fundamental mistakes we have made are believing that the individual is the building block of society and concluding that we have no need for God. We imagine that we are autonomous and we seem to have almost limitless power at our fingertips. We tell ourselves that we don’t depend on others and we mistake the ability to have any commodity delivered to our front door within a few days through a few mouse clicks as true power. But where does that autonomy and power go when there is a railroad or trucker strike? When the internet goes down? When the electrical grid collapses? The ugly truth is that we are far more dependent upon others – farmers, truckers, utility workers, police officers, firemen, and so forth – than ever before and we are far less powerful – not being able to do without farmers, truckers, utility workers, police officers, firemen, and so forth – than ever before. How many people today could grow, gather, or hunt enough food for themselves let alone their families? How many can live off the land as humans have done for thousands of years? How many are even close to actual self-sufficiency?

It is little wonder that the interdependent family, where the roles of fathers, mothers, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents serve for the betterment of the individual, the family, and the culture, has been superseded by the entitled, selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed individual. It is little wonder that the falsely independent and falsely powerful man cannot bring himself to admit that he depends upon God and thinks that seeking recourse to God is a sign of weakness and a betrayal of his individuality, dignity, and sovereignty. But Jesus was dependent on Joseph and Mary, just as we were all dependent upon our parents. If God-in-the-flesh allows Himself to depend on mere humans, how could depending on someone else be a betrayal of our individuality, dignity, and sovereignty? More importantly, how could depending upon God be a betrayal of our individuality, dignity, and sovereignty? After all, don’t we each receive individuality, dignity, and sovereignty from God in the first place?

—Fr Booth