TOPIC 3: LIFE-GIVING FAMILIES
SESSION 2 Choices That Proclaim the Gospel of Life In Your Family
- The Place of the Family Today
- God knew what He was doing when He created the family. He knew the impact of the family on the Church, society and the world.
- The family remains critical in the formation of the Church and of society. Since our Church, society and the world are only as good as the families they are made of, we must make sure that family is protected. We must defend the family.
- In 1981, Pope John Paul II wrote his papal encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, on the family. He says, “Family, become what you are!” The Family finds in the plan of God not only its identity but its mission. (FC#17)
- But today, due to the failure of more and more marriages all over the world, there is also the breakdown of more and more families. While the pope speaks of family (the nuclear family), the US bishops, because of secularized and pluralistic society, speak instead of families.
- Family vs. Families? When Pope John Paul II mentions family, he is talking about the ideal family. This is what we must all strive for. But when the US bishops speak of families, they are talking about the reality of American families today.
- There has emerged various forms of family today. It seems like the family has re-invented itself. Families include single parents with kids, grandparents with grandkids, same-sex marriages with kids, and even a couple and a cat.
- Today’s “families” may be far from the ideal and God’s original plan, but the Church must find new ways of reaching out and showing compassion for those who are the “new poor”: those who are weak or divorced or part of broken families, etc. If the Church doesn’t make space for these marginalized, then the Church isn’t doing its mission. Jesus would have been the first to take them in and show them love.
- Current Threats to the Family
- While many Filipino families may enjoy close family ties, a strong support and environment for growth and extraordinary care for our elderly, there are new threats to today’s family. The Family is under attack! Some of these are:
- A disregard for the rights of the family by societies (FC#112)
- right to the stability of the bond and institution of marriage
- right to exist and progress as a family
- right to believe in and profess one’s faith and to propagate it
- right to bring up children in accordance with the family’s own traditions and religious and cultural values
- right, especially of the poor and the sick, to obtain physical, social, political and economic security
- right to exercise its responsibility regarding the transmission of life and to educate children
- right to the intimacy of conjugal and family life
- right to protect minors by adequate institutions and legislation from harmful drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.
- right to wholesome recreation of a kind that also fosters family values
- right of the elderly to a worthy life and a worthy death
- right to emigrate as a family in search of a better life
- the OFW phenomenon
- A rise of cases of sexual abuse and incest especially among the poor in squatter areas/ informal settlements who live in extremely cramp living quarters
- Utilitarian view of children by having more kids to beg, sell sampaguitas, pick garbage or join syndicates, when they should be in school
- A decrease in quality education for the marginalized (a lack of good teachers, facilities, books, etc.)
- Pilot schools’ indoctrination on reproductive health (sex) modules integrated in every subject, based on government programs due to international pressure
- More noontime shows that exploit women (scantily clad) and children to perform for their “two minutes of fame”
- A mushrooming of internet porn sites accessible even to minors that “find you” even if you are not looking for them. (In 2006, porn sites made 12% of total websites. Today, 1/3 of all sites on the World Wide Web are porn sites. In 2006, the average age for internet exposure was 11 years old. In 2011, it was 9 years old. Porn is a lucrative business!)
- Influx of attractive cults and movements catering to Catholic youth using attractive music and strategies to recruit them
- Rise in younger cases of tween (pre-teen) suicides, slashing, homosexual relationships, contraceptive use and abortion
- An aggressive push by media and the government for condom use; media’s increase in entertainment with a sexual content (to sexualize society, especially our unassuming children and our youth)
- Increase in marital infidelity and break-ups; annulment cases in the Family Court have reached an all-time high; most couples today who want to end their marriage have been married for only 5-7 years
- More TV programs presenting “modern families” that attack wholesome family and Christian values, presenting a caricature of Christians as boring, old-fashioned and prudish
- A value-free morally relative postmodern culture that encourages multiple dimensions of reality and truth (You can believe whatever you want, and I will believe whatever I want and we must “respect” each other for it.)
- A fear of disciplining children “too much” lest their kids report them to “Bantay Bata” resulting in less discipline and a more lax child-rearing (Spare the rod, spoil the child!)
- Practical Suggestions on How To Defend the Family Today
- Band with other parents and families in community, in Church, in school and among socio-civic organizations or NGO’s to defend the family.
- E-mail/write TV stations, shows and media to complain about disvalues in noontime shows and offensive scenes. Indeed, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
- Install “The Nanny” or other anti-porn and safenet programs on your family computers.
- Speak out against the Adolescent Reproductive Health Education program being piloted in select public schools all over the Philippines, from prep to 4th year high school. Pressure the Department of Education.
- Cultivate better communication lines with your children, especially the tweens and teens who are undergoing the most turbulent and confusing periods of growing up. They need you more now than ever before. Keep daily meal times together consistently.
- Watch TV and movies with your kids so you can process what they watch; talk about the disvalues in what they’re watching and what is against our Christian culture. (These are teachable moments!)
- Keep children innocent (Let kids be kids.) by giving them age-appropriate toys, clothing, books, and games as well watch age appropriate movies and shows.
- Parents must equip themselves to communicate with their children with an age-appropriate Christian sexuality education (telling them of God’s beautiful plan for sex in the context of marriage) when the questions arise. There are Christian sources available for this. (If you don’t want to talk to them about sex, they will pick up the wrong ideas elsewhere.)
- If you love your kids, you will discipline them. But discipline them with love and respect. Don’t spoil them.
- Always pray for your children. And pray regularly as a family FOR your family and for other families because the family is under attack! And the attacks are getting stronger!
Familiaris Consortio “ON THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN THE MODERN WORLD” by PJP II (1981)
“Saving and Strengthening the Filipino Family: A CBCP Pastoral Statement on the 20th Anniversary of Familiaris Consortio (2001)
“What Is Family For?” by Julie Hanlon Rubio (2003)
What do you think is the worst attack against families today? Against your family?
What can you do in the defense of your family and all families?