Nearly all of us are the products of families of various sorts, and many of us continue to be sustained by the presence in our lives of live-in relatives. The incredible diversity of what we call families, however, makes for a rather bewildering array of “family values” we’ve come to espouse.

Discounting the full third of all American households which consist of a single person, only half of those remaining comprise a mom, a dad, and kids. And a growing number of those are so-called “blended” families. A fajr percentage of us come from and live in single-parent households, and many of us spend much of our adult lives as couples.

Some of our family structures subliminally teach that commitment is temporary and conditional. Others provide ideal venues for arbitrary and despotic leadership. And still others seem to function as support systems for shared bigotry and the judgment of outsiders.

This Sunday’s readings provide us with a rather different perspective on family than the many which are put forth by our culture. “God sent his Son, born of a woman,” Paul tells us, “so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children,” he continues, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts … So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal. 4:4-7).

We hear much the same thing from John: “But to all who received [Christ], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (I: 12-13). For all of us who have been baptized in the Lord’s death and resurrection, our true family is now the body of Christ.

The values espoused and taught by our Christian family are precisely those we have espoused in our Baptismal Covenant. Our common calling is to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving [our) neighbor as [ourselves).” It teaches compassion and mercy to all in any need. And it urges our continuous striving “for justice and peace among all people, and respect[ing] the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305). There’s no room in any of that for prejudice or discrimination in any form. We’re taught to serve Christ in every person.

No matter how bizarre the ethics espoused by secular families, our own holy family, the body of Christ, unites Christians through teaching the clear values of the coming kingdom.

Look It Up

How does Galatians 5: 13-26 relate to the Baptismal Covenant?

Think About It

In what practical ways do I respect the dignity of those with whom I disagree?