Chapter 13: Christianity and Family Members

Only on rare occasions does one get called into Christianity with his or her entire family members, unless when adopting Christianity as a tradition. Christianity is a lonesome journey that causes a changed lifestyle, without agreement with others, necessarily.

This is why Jesus pronounced the sacrificial undertaking before following Him (Matt. 19:29). A person gets excited when accepting Christ, viewing things differently from ordinary ways. However, this puts the convert at variance with his or her next of kin.

A Christian is expected to love enemies. But that instruction is unworkable to ordinary people. Consider also being called for missionary assignments that are regarded as unreasonable to one’s nuclear family members. Humanly speaking, Christianity is unworkable, as jeopardises family relationships.

The formula for harmonious marriages does not support Christianity––as spelling reasons for Paul’s recommendation for celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7-8). Jesus suggested the need to sacrifice one’s family needs, before becoming His follower. This appears to contradict Proverbs 18:22.

Nothing is contradictory. A Christian is a new product (2 Cor. 5:17), different from the person postured in Proverbs 18:22. Good marriages exist among Christians, but that does not necessarily indicate spiritual superiority. This is another reason why Christ forbids judging. (See Matt. 7:1-5 and James 4:11-12).

Humans are limited to the outside. Nevertheless, most marriages enter into serious challenges, due to doctrinal commitments, where one spouse fails to appreciate the significance of another’s calling. Both may be Christians, but differing in doctrinal understandings.

For instance, one may be a Sabbath-keeper, per the Ten Commandments, yet the other may assume to be freed from the Law. Understanding is not always possible by explanations. Truth is a virtue established by an individual, without other people’s involvement.

Even Jesus could not win converts through Scriptural citations. What is true to me may not necessarily be true to another person. And what is truth to others may not necessarily be truth to me. However, this is handled when the principle of respecting another’s viewpoint is applied.

Christ stated that no one comes to Him unless drawn by His Father (John 6:44). Nevertheless, if both spouses understood Paul’s admonition in Romans 14, such quarrels become manageable. A true believer is spiritually led by Jesus alone, without considering prevailing customs.

Repentance is qualitative. Doctrines, as Paul indicated in Romans 14, cannot be a good reason to interfere with other people’s convictions. Christ gracefully communicates with sinful people. He perfects them according to their background and not according to doctrinal rules.

The unconverted are strangers, spiritually, but not enemies. It is advisable to avoid arguments on Biblical matters, unless when sparingly requested to give opinions. Justifiably, it is virtuous to engage people in Bible studying—but only when such people are agreeable. One’s desire is to preach Christ––but the primary responsibility is to attain peace with people.

After Jesus sent His disciples on a missionary expedition, He asked them to first seek peace, before everything else (Luke 10:5). The only most effective way to preach Christ is to respect other people’s viewpoints. Peter also advised wives with unconverted husbands, an idea similarly workable for husbands with unconverted wives:

“Wives, likewise, subject yourselves to your husbands, so that even if some are disobedient to the word, that by the conduct of their wives, without a word, they shall be gained for Christ,” (1 Peter 3:1 EMTV).

Paul’s conduct can be another method to peaceably draw people to Christ (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Quarrels may also arise with extended family members. For instance, refusing to participate in some ritual ceremonies––considered unchristian—attracts ostracism from one’s relatives.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matt. 10:34-36 NIV).

Whilst Christ portrays a gloomy picture in familial relationships, this does not suggest unwise provocation of disputes, to confirm one’s religious posture. Christ said this to prepare Christians to handle such challenges—necessary for an in-depth appreciation of spiritual matters.

Being hated by relatives or any other––is not a good reason to hate in return. Christianity appeals for love application, even under acrimonious conditions. The persecutors need love even more than before. Hostile conditions provide opportunities for practising true Christianity.

Without such challenges, it is impossible to develop the necessary experience and character for Godly principles. Such love is not exercised doctrinally, but driven by empathy towards those not privileged to understand as well as one assumes to understand. Nevertheless, spiritual matters take precedence over physical matters:

“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother” (Mark 3:31-35 NIV).

Whatever the reason for which those relatives needed Jesus, could not override the value of addressing those sitting around Him. As an agent of a New Civilization, Jesus held what was superior to everything. The relatives represented what was temporary, yet spiritual matters represented what was senior and permanent. Those appreciating the gospel were more valuable.

“Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:21-22 NIV).

How could dead people bury their dead ones? What Christ meant is that as long as not having Christ, any person is dead, because life is spiritual. Humanity died, due to the Garden of Eden incident (Gen. 2:17). “The day you shall eat of that tree you shall surely die.”An unconverted person is not different from a corpse, as long as without Christ.

Death implies separation from the source, which is God. Dying today––ahead of another unconverted person, dying—say, twenty years later—makes no difference. Both decompose to be forgotten about––albeit perishing at different intervals.

The reality of being in Christ implies holding onto the imperishable. At death, true Christians are guaranteed eternal life (John 8:51). Nevertheless, the unconverted also have hope. Christ’s blood is not discriminative, as shown in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7).

Those receiving His teachings, at any given time are, figuratively, valued more than those still indifferent. This is like finding logic in protecting fish in a container, at the expense of fish still out in the vast sea. What about being bound in marriage with an unconverted person; frantically desiring space, as affecting most Christians?

“…Haven’t you read,…that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?…Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate”(Matt. 19:3-6 NIV).

A Christian who is bonded in an incompatible marriage appears disadvantaged; just as a stammerer appears disadvantaged. Stammering does not limit God. The story of Moses comes to mind (Exod. 4:10-12). The works of God are without human logic.

To God, nothing is impossible. In marriage, a minister whose wife is unconverted cannot be divorced, as marital vows are terminated by death alone. Like ministers with speech impediments, an incompatibly married minister appears disadvantaged, yet preferred by God.

Loving an unlovable person helps in developing Godly characteristics in a person. God truly loved humanity when humanity was deeply ensconced in sinful conditions. A minister who manages to maintain a discordant marriage may be as effective as God knows best.

The effectiveness of Christianity is not necessarily based on how one is approved by humanity, but how approved by God. Failure to appreciate this reality causes others to abuse scriptures––thereby citing references that appear as appealing for divorce:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellows/hip can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (2 Cor. 6:14-16)

Marriage applies to those existing in the flesh. In God’s Kingdom they neither marry nor are given in marriage (Matt. 22:30). The apostle Paul was referring to the error of being yoked in God’s work with non-believers, rather than marital unions.

Jesus related well with anyone in this world but was not yoked with them. When following His footsteps, one can relate to anyone, without necessarily being yoked, doing God’s work. One is in fellowship with Belial by default, when abusing Scriptures to ill-treat others.

Avoiding Bible study engagements, where disagreements exist is virtuous. Even when certain of being accurate, truth should never be imposed. One should never impose spiritual superiority over others. Instead, one should seek peace on matters of disagreement.

This does not necessarily mean discarding one’s conviction to be at peace with disagreeable people. The principle of treating others as one would like to be treated is what applies (Matt. 7:12). Each person desires to be granted freedom to be oneself.  A Christian relates well with anybody, being as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove (Matt. 10:16).

What is unacceptable is pontificating over other people’s convictions, to suggest being better than them. Each individual is answerable to God. No one wants his or her opinions to be invalidated in this world. But everyone wants to be treated with love and respect.

Loving others as Christ loves them, and helping only when requested, promotes congenial relationships. When gently advising someone, out of love, that stealing or harming others is bad, one would not be imposing own doctrines, for instance. This appeals to logical reasoning without, necessarily, having to disclose religious convictions.

Immediate family members can be the starting point in applying principles of true love. When succeeding––regardless of how acrimonious, the environment––Christian application becomes achievable. This portrays the effective relevance of Christian fellowship.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99


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