Spiritual “Pact” Families

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The need in our commercial, decadent and industrial society is for more  than biological families. The need is for spiritually bound families that can be but are not necessarily supported by ties of biological kinship.

We need small spiritually attached Christian groups. Local churches are supposed to be a spiritual family, but it is an extended family too large to fit the list of what is needed. It can’t supply the personal relationships that are needed by peoples of all ages and gender. That is best found in personal family relationships transcending biology.

Let us examine the family today. Often there is only one child or very few children. In today’s society there may be only a one parent family. Obviously more is needed than that. The local congregation is too big for the personal relationships needed while the biological family is too little.

C.S. Lewis (whether he knew it or not) was a pioneer of the spiritual family where claims and association were like a small family but carried on without the biological ties. His was not a family tied to conventional boundaries.

C.S. Lewis and his friend, Paddy Moore, were soldiers in World War I. They made a pact that if either one were killed, the survivor would look after the deceased’s parents. Paddy Moore was killed in that unnecessary and useless bloodbath of a war.

C.S. Lewis then looked after Paddy’s mother. Finally he moved Mrs. Moore into his house where she made a valuable contribution to his welfare in everyday life. C.S. Lewis and Mrs. Moore formed a “Pact” family, a “spiritual family,” or, if you like, a non-biologically based family acting out family roles and claims and morals.

This is what we need today. Without biology we need more agreement in “cherishing each other” families. Actually I have an idea society has always needed this. Some already have these. However, the working vision needs to be recognized publicly as a desirable and civilized spiritual grouping.

Nothing is wrong with the traditional biological family idea. That is a spiritual biology grouping. But consider the the situation today. For example, in today’s industrial society large families cannot be had because of the limitations of money and sometimes the government. Or consider the plight of families long distanced geographically from their biological support group if they are so fortunate as to have one.

What the church needs to offer is Christians who will take the ideals of the biological family further than what is presently conventional. Going out side the biological family to form “agreements in cherishing ”or a “pact” family is definitely unconventional but soundly Christian.

One thing the world needs is Christians or good people who will carry the family concept beyond mere biological ties into use in the greater world.

The family concept of ties using biology as the only excuse for family ties is wrong. The family must be extended in a far more civilized and aware manner than is presently being done. We want small “agreements for cherishing each other” like family “pacts” to cover the needs of society. In this I suggest you as a home missionary are needed. Anyone can be part of a spiritual family bigger and sometimes deeper than biology. We need Christians cherishing each other like family in pact families and agreements between individuals to work together.

All biological families should try to be spiritual families. This is the traditional ideal role for the family and should not be changed. But what of the many and more who have no family or are far away in distance or thought or manner of living.

Also let us be honest about family. Biology has never been a totally successful basis to build spiritual family ties on. Kinship at times is not a solid basis for KINDSHIP.

Often nobody can be quite as discouraging as members of our biological family. The way many people (if they are honest) feel is like that of a person shipwrecked on an island with the other passengers of plane or ship. They wonder, “How did I get here with all these strange people?” They feel stranded on a biological island named “family”.

To be stranded on a biological island with people different from yourself is not enjoyable. This does not imply we should not do right in loving those who are biologically kin to us, regardless of their character defects, but let us face it: limiting family attitudes and love to people biologically kin to you is a life suppressing and life wasting use of your personal potential to love and cherish.

Often in ‘‘pact’’ families or “agreements in cherishing’’ each other without biological ties, you receive a better basis for affectionate regard than in your own families. At least you get people usually of a temperament that you can work with. (After all God knows what you may have had to face with some family members. While you may have a moral obligation or duty to care for them, there is not the exercise in joy that you get from being with those sharing or needing your temperament, outlook or gifts.)

I long ago found in counseling on fulfilling any role in biological families, you cannot make siblings who do not get along with one another get along. In walking with some, you have a somewhat crippled companionship. That does not cancel a moral obligation to care for them, but it does mean you may not enjoy them. And there is no sense in trying to lie to ourselves about it or in our feeling particularly guilty about it.

There is love and there is love. There is a moral duty to care for, but there is no way we can force anyone to enjoy or cherish. The same applies to God. There are those who respect God and try to do their moral duty. Then there are those who love God and are ENJOYING HIM forever. The latter are true religionists who understand what FAITH is all about. (I know of no way to force the difference in feelings but accept both types of people as members of a congregation- the half- covenanted and the fully covenanted. The same goes for members of a family.) There are the biologically tied but not spiritually united.

We should try to examine to see if we have a half way covenant with members of our family based solely on biology. But we should not limit ourselves to that, but try to have a full way covenant with those who are spiritually united with us if not sharing any biological ties.

Who then is our real family here? Both in their ways. But we have a duty to extend the love of family beyond biological family. We cannot limit family love to mere biological relatives. When we do that we are sitting on and denying our full abilities to love, to give and to nourish. That is a sin.

Jesus said in Luke 6:32: “If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” I take this to mean we must go beyond the conventional in taking our love outside the family and to other members of the human race. Let us carry the good points of the family beyond the family. This is what Jesus would have.

I suggest you consider ones with whom you might wish to make a Spiritual Pact. Transcend biology and extend your family. It may prove to be a most worthwhile, happy and fortunate action to take. It is always good to pass on God’s grace. Pact families are a Christian answer to one of the defining needs of our too commercial, brutal, hostile society of today.

You have heard the Word of God interpreted in the light of the grace given me.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.