Question to answer: What habits cultivate family closeness/intimacy?
What is the secret sauce in a close-knit family?
Have you noticed that some families are closer to each other than others? They seem to share more in each other’s joys and griefs. They talk openly with each other. They may fight, but they don’t distance themselves easily nor often. Many times they are close physically as well, hugging, holding, and kissing each other with great freedom.
What makes for a close-knit family?
I wouldn’t pretend to know all of the ingredients, but one of them must be affection. Affection is not just a symptom of closeness, but a cause as well.
Many things can shape a person’s depth of affection: culture, family experience, and even personality. Interestingly, none of the things in that list are under one’s control. We do not choose the culture, family, or personal idiosyncrasies. However, I don’t think anyone’s level of affection is completely outside his or her control. We can choose to be more or less than what we are naturally.
But how do we decide which direction to go? What is the measuring stick by which we can judge? If we say the Bible is our measuring stick, and we do, then where can we find anything about how affectionate we should be in our families?
Interestingly, the nature of the trinity can help us here. Since there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, they must relate to one another. One clear Scripture about the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son is John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
The phrase “in the bosom” is used to express the idea of personal closeness, even strong affection. So this verse is saying that Jesus has an intimate and affectionate relationship with the Father. It doesn’t take much of a logical leap to conclude that godly families must have a degree of affection as well.
Since we are a fallen race, we cannot expect to have perfect bonds between family members. Yet, the living Word is our standard, and so we should press towards a fully appropriate level of affection within our families.
We should not despair if we think our families are nowhere near affectionate enough. Just determine to move to a better place with God’s help.
We should not gloat if we think our families are more affectionate than any we know. Surely, the Father and Son have a more perfectly attuned relationship than any earthly family. Just determine to move to a better place with God’s help.