By John J. Blanchard
September 8, 2012
Good morning, everybody. This is the fourth in the series about the founding values. I started it with a sermon that was a prelude called “Becoming Inured to the Point of Our Own Detriment” (July 7, 2012). Then we had a series on four foundational values that go back to the founding of the United States—the Western values that we have been talking about. I started with religiosity, and we worked our way through industriousness and honesty. Today I want to talk about marriage and family.
If you would, please turn to the very beginning of the New Testament in Matthew chapter 1, where we find the genealogy of Jesus Christ back to Adam. We are not going to read the entire genealogy. But to get the ambiance or flavor of this, let’s read some of it.
I want to start in Matthew chapter 1, verse 1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.”
We could continue on down, but I would like to drop down to verse 14 where we come to the conclusion of the genealogical list. “Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud, Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity inBabylonare fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”
You have the genealogy of Jesus Christ back to Abraham.
Now let’s go to Genesis chapter 5. Genesis also records in a couple of places genealogy, and we can actually trace Christ’s genealogy by doing this all the way back to Adam. But I want to go to Genesis chapter 5. We won’t read the entire genealogy, but let’s start in verse 1: “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”
I find that interesting. We will continue in just a minute, but this is just an aside. God created man in His image, and here it says that in the image of Adam came Seth. That is interesting, because we all have been in on conversations where somebody will look at someone and say, I see your father in your face. You have your mother’s hands or your mother’s eyes. You can actually see the image of a previous generation. You can even go back sometimes to grandpa and grandma and great grandma and great grandpa. They say you are just like your great grandfather. It tracks like that, and it is very interesting. That jumped out at me when I was putting this sermon together.
Continuing in verse 4 of Matthew 5: “After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh. After he begot Enosh, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. Enosh lived ninety years, and begot Cainan.”
Of course we could go all the way down through the genealogy, but I want to jump up to verse 32 of Matthew 5: “And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”
We are not going to go into the whole experience with the flood and how God started again with this family. I just bring us to this point here, where we can see the genealogy goes from Adam all the way to Noah who begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Now let’s jump over to Genesis chapter 11. We can see one of the three sons there, Shem. We are going to look at his genealogy. Here again we are not going to read the entire genealogy. Let’s start in Genesis chapter 11, verse 10: “This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood. After he begot Arphaxad, Shem lived five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah. After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters.”
And so it goes, until we come down to verse 25. “After he begot Terah, Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years, and begot sons and daughters. Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram [that is Abraham], Nahor, and Haran.”
Here we see three distinct sections of genealogy. We read Matthew chapter 1. We took it from Christ all the way back to Abraham, and now we have connected Adam all the way up to Abraham. Genealogy is fascinating. Here we see the family tree of Christ’s father’s side all the way back to Adam.
A FAMILY TREE
Genealogy is so interesting. Today it is becoming very popular, and I think it is made possible, of course, by computers and records that have been digitized. People are very interested in where they came from and what their family tree is.
As a matter of fact, if you were to look up genealogy, it is a record or table of the descent of a person, family, or group from their ancestor or ancestors, a family tree. The definition of genealogy is really a family tree.
As this becomes more and more popular, there are even advertisements on TV where a leaf pops out on the tree and that is you or your children. You can trace that tree back. People are really getting interested in trees. As a matter of fact, I brought a tree with me. This is a little maple tree that I cut down this morning. For those of you who cannot see, so you can picture this, it is probably 4 ½ or 5 ft. tall. If you look at this tree, you see all these leaves that have popped out on it. You see the individual branches.
What is interesting about each branch is it is just like the tree. I can take this branch and tear it off, and I could say that was the whole tree. You wouldn’t know the difference. The branch looks like the tree. I can do it again. I can keep doing that, and each branch looks like a tree. This could be just a tiny maple tree with the leaves on it that is branching off. That is like the family tree that each of us is a part of. Each of us is a part of the family tree and the family of man—the big tree that originally started with Adam and Eve.
AN EXAMPLE OF A FAMILY TREE
God the Father was Jesus Christ’s Father, so you cannot trace God the Father’s genealogy. He has always existed. But for each of us, we have had a father and a mother. Perhaps someday I will bring you my family tree on my mother’s side. It goes all the way back to the 1630’s. Interestingly enough, a man by the name of Gabriel Gosselin left France in 1653 to come to the New World. He was part of the voyageur explorer contingent that did a lot of discovering and settling in what was a very new land to mankind. He came here and started a family tree, but he was part of a family tree.
My mother’s side has traced it back, and they have had family reunions. It is very interesting that when they had a family reunion inMontreal, 3500 people came, all from this one man. Of course, that was just a small fraction of everybody descended from him, but 3500 people gathered in one place for a family reunion. They were literally from all over the world, because people move. They change addresses, and they marry in a different land. It is all part of the family tree.
Interestingly enough, in 1990 I had the occasion to take my family toFrance. I wanted to see where Gabriel left, and it was a little port city called Honfleur on the coast of France in Normandy. It is a very old town. The harbor itself is so tiny you could just about throw a rock over it if you had a good strong arm, because the ships were so tiny. Now you would have the port of Le Havre or Calais which are great big ports for the modern ships, but this was for back in the day when ships were small. You could see this harbor from where he left from.
The town itself is very old. When you walk through the town’s streets, you are walking on streets that in some cases are 800 and 900 years old. You are going into shops, homes, and businesses where the building has existed for 600 or 700 years. When they build with stone, that is possible.
For me it was almost like an ethereal experience because as I walked around this harbor, walked up and down the streets, in and out of shops, bought a baked good from the belongerie or whatever, it was so interesting. I told our children perhaps our great great great great great great grandfather came into this very building! I know he walked these very streets, and I know he left from this very harbor. It was fascinating that we could do that.
A family tree and knowing where your family came from makes that all possible. You can tell that’s where you came from. It tells you your roots. You can trace that on your family tree on the wall and say this is where my great great great great great grandfather came from. It’s fascinating!
Today it is even more fascinating because as we lose track of each other, there are ways today to tell if you are related to so and so. Two people who look alike can say, you look like my great grandmother. “I do!” “Yes, is there such and such name in your background?” “Yes, there is!” “Let’s go get a little blood test or a saliva test, and we will know if we are cousins.” We can do that today because they can get the genetics—the DNA of each person and see if they are related. They have done this now even with historical figures. It is fascinating that this can all be done.
The family of man is easily proven to be a family tree with many branches that are separate families but all related. Every branch is tied in some way to the trunk. Interestingly, the book of Genesis we know means “beginnings.” If you look up the word genesis in a modern dictionary, you will find that it means the coming into being of something, the origin. The family tree all comes from the same trunk, the same root stock.
The family tree of man and our individual families is so fascinating and interesting and so helpful to each of us today to tie ourselves back in some way to relatives from the past. It can make us feel connected to our family. If we had the ability, we would trace back the successive branches each being generations just like the Bible did for us with Jesus Christ. It must be an important bit of knowledge to be able to trace your family back as far as you can and to know where you came from. You can understand your likes, your dislikes, your characteristics and today even solve certain riddles in our own DNA.
Sometimes there are certain diseases that follow and track our family. Sometimes there are certain problems that we can say my great grandfather or my great grandmother had that problem. I think I am going to deal with this now and see if I can head it off at the pass. We can do this now because we can trace our family tree. If we had no way of tracing it, we would have no way of knowing these things. That is where I am going with that. It is valuable information that we have discovered today, so there are useful things. Just like with Jesus Christ we can trace Him back and we know He came from Adam. We know prophecies were fulfilled because we can check out the generations. We can check what was prophesied to happen with Abraham, for instance, and Isaac and how Isaac’s whole experience as a sacrifice was a type of Jesus Christ. All of it is connected because we understand the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
For thousands of years family was understood to be certain things. We knew flesh and blood characteristics were passed on from generation to generation before we knew that genes existed. People have been saying for thousands of years, you are just like your grandfather. You look so much like your mother. They knew characteristics were passed on.
THE NUCLEAR FAMILY
They also knew that it was a relationship by direct descent. You just cannot pass your characteristics on to somebody like you do with a common cold or something. It has to be passed on from generation to generation by the coming together of a man and a woman to make a child. It started with a mom and dad being the nuclear family and being the basic block of a family to build with, and it extends out. Today we even call it the extended family. It includes our cousins, our aunts, our uncles, our second, third, fourth, and fifth cousins. The family extends out from our family tree. It literally touches and connects every family tree.
I once read that scientifically they feel if you go out to your seventieth cousin, you are related to every man, woman, and child on earth. Each branch is a family tree, but it is connected to the trunk—the family of man. It is fascinating.
I want to read from the World Book Encyclopedia, 1983 Edition about genetics and genealogy. Just like in the Bible we read about the genealogy of Jesus Christ, we can read about the section on generation in the World Book Encyclopedia. “Generation is a term used to mean any stage necessary to continue the survival of a species. This means that one rank in natural descent must be followed by another. For example, parents represent one generation and children the next. Each generation of human beings is considered to be about twenty-five years.” That is when typically people have children.
It is well understood and has been for thousands of years that parents who have children form a generation. The extended family and the branch that keeps continuing and branching off is one generation following another generation.
THE HUMAN GENOME
If I flip a page and go to the section on Genetics, we see here that: “Genetics is the study of heredity—the passing on of characteristics from parents to their offspring. These characteristics are determined by tiny units called genes, which are present in the cells of all organisms. Genes determine most physical traits such as general body build, the color of the eyes, hair, and skin, and other inherited characteristics such as blood types.” It goes on to say, even certain genetic disorders or diseases. All these are part of genetics.
I did not look up the origins of the word genes or genetics, but I am sure it comes from genealogy and generation. It comes from a concept as old as the Bible itself: one generation following another generation. They did not know even until the last century that such things as genes existed. They knew characteristics were passed on from generation to generation, but how was a mystery. Today with our powerful microscopes, blood tests, and all the things that we can do, we have discovered and mapped the human genome. We had a sermon about that not too long ago. You might want to go back and look at that (April 7, 2012 Above the Human Genome).
We have discovered the double helix and that the set of genes from two parents are used to combine to make children. This is why it is interesting that God says when a man and a woman come together, they become one flesh. Children are the genetic components of the two parents. Half of their set of genes comes from one parent, and the other half from the other.
We have made amazing discoveries about genetics, the double helix, and all of these things. There have been amazing discoveries. It helps us, like I mentioned earlier, to trace family trees, to know who we are related to, and to know what possible genetic malformation maybe in our family that we want to watch for. We also note some good character traits. You could say my grandfather was a good musician. No wonder I can play! Or you might say my great grandfather was a very fast runner. Now I can see where I get the genes that make the fast twitch muscles so I can run fast. All these things are understood because we understand genetics, but we have known for thousands of years there was something getting passed on from one generation to the next.
We have used these discoveries now for many things. They even solve crimes by checking genetics. Not only can we check and see if someone may have a proclivity for a certain disease or disorder, we can also solve crimes because our genes are so specific. Our makeup is so specific to each of us—our DNA—that you cannot find that exact DNA in anyone else on earth! It is remarkable. Two parents, a man and a woman, came together, and because of God’s design, those genetic characteristics get passed from generation to generation in a slightly different way every time. They are there, and they are identifiable.
THE BASIC FAMILY: A MAN AND A WOMAN
We have discovered some very profound things about heredity, genes, and genetics. Two people really are becoming one flesh when they have a child. A man and a woman truly become the basic unit of a family. A man and a woman have a family even if they don’t have children because the two shall become one. And not everyone has children. Sometimes it is not possible, and sometimes by choice people don’t have children. But the only way to have children for thousands of years was by a man and a woman coming together.
God said, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. He designed in that very instant the family unit. He also designed the biology to pass on these traits from one generation to the next to continue the species, so to speak, and to link us all together in a family tree. There was simply no other way to make the family of man grow other than this, until our time today.
Things have changed drastically in the last 25, 30, or maybe 40 years. For 6000 years the family unit was not only the basic unit to pass on heredity, but it was the only way that a civilization and society could grow. The family was the only way to insure success of that society because someone has to raise and train the next generation. We are not like animals. In a very short time, they can be on their own. There is no other species of creature on earth that I know of that literally takes two decades to pass on enough information to the next generation for them to be solid, stable, self-supporting individuals. That is the way it is with human beings.
It takes parents to form a strong family unit to not only pass on the genetic traits but to pass on the common characteristics that make for a civilization and for a society. We have known for a long time that nations are built on family. Cultures are built on family. Family is built on marriage. That is why it is called a founding virtue.
I started this series by quoting from a book that I want to quote from again now. It is called Coming Apart by Charles Murray. That is where I got the idea to talk about the four founding virtues which we have covered in detail up to this point. I want to read from pages 134 and 135 about marriage and family.
Under the section on page 134 it is titled Marriage, and here is what we find. “The founders took for granted that marriage was the bedrock institution of society. One of the few explicit discussions during the Revolutionary era is found in James Wilson’s Lectures on Law: ‘Whether we consult the soundest deductions of reason, or resort to the best information conveyed to us by history, or listen to the undoubted intelligence communicated in holy writ, we shall find, that to the institution of marriage the true origin of society must be traced…..To that institution, more than to any other, have mankind been indebted for the share of peace and harmony which has been distributed among them. “Prima societas in ipso conjugio est,” [“The first bond of society is marriage”] says Cicero in his book of offices; a work which does honor to the human understanding and the human heart.’”
This man goes all the way back to Roman times. It says it has been known for a long time the family unit is the basic unit of society.
THE BEDROCK OF SOCIETY
Continuing to quote from the book now Mr. Murray writes: “The question for the founders and for the commentators in the nineteenth century was not whether marriage itself was essential to the functioning of society—of course it was—but about behavior within marriage. You may have noticed in this chapter’s opening quotations how often the word morality was used.” We have discussed that in previous sermons in this series.
“Typically, morality referred simply to fidelity within marriage and to the permanence of marriage. John Adams, whose fifty-four years with Abigail Adams constitute one of America’s historic marriages, confided to his diary, ‘The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families….How is it possible that children can have any just sense of the sacred obligations of morality or religion, if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their mothers?’”
John Adams who had a very successful marriage realized it was the bedrock of society. It was the bedrock of American’s founding which is why Mr. Murray called it one of the four founding virtues.
I have read today from the Old and New Testament about the genealogy of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and how important it was for God the Father to be able to trace that and to show us the family tree of Christ. I showed you how our families are family trees and branches that are all interconnected, but each set of parents starts a new branch. They must pass on not only the genetics and the hereditary things that would make another generation, but the values—the virtues—that would make that generation a successful civilization or society. The God-ordained institution of marriage and family is simply the bedrock of civilization.
I want to conclude today’s sermon as just the first part of two parts about marriage and family. I wanted this to be the positive part, so we could see the importance of our own families, our own connectedness, and how important God feels family is. I wanted to show how things get passed genetically from one generation to the next and also the characteristics in our quality of life.
The next sermon is going to talk about the dangers that currently face marriage and family and why we need to recognize these dangers. Then we need to do something about it in our personal lives and try to share the knowledge with others because God is very concerned about family. God is trying to create not only the family of man but eventually the family of God. It is very important to do it right and to do it God’s way.
If you would, be patient with me. This is next to the last in the series about the founding virtues. It will turn into a six-sermon set because I started with Inurement, then I went to the four founding virtues. Then I want to talk about the threats that family and marriage face today.