Articles from the August 1997 Unification News

Dysfunctional Family

This is the second in a two-part series

Looking at the family unit from another perspective, sibling rivalry can frequently prove to be either very constructive (positive) or very destructive (negative). The destructive, self-centered kind of sibling rivalry is akin to the negative emotion of extreme jealousy/envy, which often leads to sibling violence and murder; this is an all-too-common feature of modern life.

Where can we say that we may have seem this type of thing happening before? In Genesis 4:1-16, the elder brother Cain, motivated by jealousy, deceives his young brother Abel and murders him. What a woeful precedent-of fratricide in the very first, ancestral human family!

Another very important aspect of family conflicts is parental disharmony. There was mutual blame by Adam and Eve for having disobeyed God's commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the fall. As is often the case, mutual blame is compounded, ultimately ending in total family breakdown, as in divorce.

Modern divorce lawyers advertise their services and have an ever-increasing workload. Some clearly exploit this tendency toward mutual blaming by disaffected spouses for financial gain, with little regard for restoration of true family harmony.

Understandably, if the parents are in a state of conflict and mutual blame, even if they stop short of legal divorce, among the resultant outcomes will doubtless be discord between parents and children as well as among the children themselves.

Furthermore, parental conflict will be likely to create internal spiritual and psychological problems within their own offspring. The children are a substantial reflection of the parents' spiritual, psychological and physical union-dependent upon the degree and quality of conjugal love and communion.

Hence the disharmony manifested within and between the various members of the modern family is deeply rooted in the disharmony manifested within the first human family, based on the above-mentioned assumption of a literal-historical fall of the first human ancestors.

Subsequent to the fall of Adam and Eve, along with mutual blame came the actuality of a divorce. A deeply-rooted internal, spiritual divorce, if not an external familial shattering or explosion, served to lay the foundation for the current state of rampant family breakdown and alarming divorce rates in modern social life. There is also a prevalent culture of "free sex," pervading our modern societies and energetically nurtured by the entertainment/media industry.

In the light of the preceding discussion, it is evident that the answer to the question "Why do families keep breaking down?" is to be found in the very dysfunctional situation which initially arose in the first, ancestral human family. This is the case, despite the fact that most modern families are largely unaware of the legacy of our inherited condition.

In direct connection with the original sin, the various legacies of such a dysfunctional family have been compounded and passed down from generation to succeeding generation. Hence, the root cause of the decline in family values, and thus in family relationships, lies firmly in the reality of the human fall and the subsequent transmission of original sin.

Sexual intrigue, dysfunctional relationships and murder are all observable in the first human family. Accordingly, these very characteristics are also among the most unappealing aspects of our heritage, our influential precedent and bad example.

Such is the significance of the course taken by the first human family that it ought to be self-evident that herein lie the seeds of the present-day moral and ethical decadence, all too frequently lamented in our societies today.

Having explored the seeds-the origins-of the dysfunctional modern family, the issue then arises as to the urgent necessity of the application of powerful and effective curative measures. How can we really save the modern human family-and thus improve both our individual and societal lives?

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