Many who have studied sociology have been taught that the family is the nucleus of society. Most people would accept this as a given, but what does it mean? Explicitly, it means that the family is the smallest unit of the human community where formation, growth and development of the human being takes place for the greater benefit of the human society, or for the common good. Man and woman come together and copulate. They produce children and raise them, teaching them some very important skills of communication, language, expression, love, nutrition, work, and more. The ultimate objective is to prepare children to be positive contributors for the advancement of the community.
Many sociologists regard the family as the cornerstone of the society. It forms the basic unit of social organisation and it is difficult to imagine how human society could function without it. The family has been seen as a universal social institution and an inevitable part of human society. It has been regarded as a good thing both for the individual and society as a whole.
The structure of the family varies from society to society. The smallest family unit, or the nuclear family as previously mentioned, consists of a husband and a wife and their children. Family units larger than the nuclear family are known as the extended family. This grouping can incorporate family related by descent, marriage or adoption. In some of the studies conducted by sociologist Peter Murdock it was discovered that the nuclear family was present in every society in his samples. This led him to conclude that: “The nuclear family is a universal social grouping. Either as the sole prevailing form of the family or as the basic unit from which more complex forms are compounded; it exists as a unique and strongly functional group in every known society.”
In Saint Lucia many of our households could be considered ‘single parent,’ ‘extended’ or consisting of the ‘compound family’. The nuclear family exist in the minority. Our Catechesis teachings about sex, marriage and family life flows from our basic belief of the Son of God Jesus Christ. The narrative begins with creation and the Garden of Eden, effectively noting our ‘fall’. The fall meaning the fall of man from the grace of God through the sin of disobedience. Since we have been separated from God through sin, our salvation becomes critical. Therefore we have to learn to stick to God’s plan for our salvation. Love should be our mission, and it is by loving God and one another that we may become fully alive. The Second Vatican Council states that each family is a “Domestic Church”. A cell of the larger Universal Church, because the family and the church are universally dependent upon each other.
If our mission is love then it should be taught and communicated in and through the family. The family is the first institution of learning. Children learn to love, read, write, share, play and pray through the family in the home. They also learn the values of forgiveness, fortitude, gratitude, faith, honesty, unity and other important human values. As a result the family becomes strengthened and then the community, and by extension, the nation.
If the mission is about love, then what is love? In this case, the love that we speak of is that as per scripture reading of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 Verses 4-8: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
God wants us men and women of this nation of Saint Lucia to lead our families in love and in obedience to him. If anyone is now in a common law relationship it is time to consider marriage so as to get the full blessings of God for the whole family, the community and the nation. The words of God can never be obsolete. From the time of creation up to modern times like now scripture remains relevant and applicable. Let us remember Genesis Chapter 2 Verses 21-24, which discuss the formation of woman, from the rib of man.
“Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.