THE BROKEN CIRCLE
I was twenty-one years old when my beautiful bride and I took that long walk down the aisle of the church. We were both so very excited to finally make official what we were completely sure. We were made for each other, forever! I still get heart palpitations of joy when I look back at that marvelous event.
One of the most touching parts of our ceremony was the exchanging of our rings. The minister recited to us the symbolic significance of this act. The ring symbolized our never ending love and devotion to each other. The circle of love which was never to be broken. Never!
Well, that's the way it was meant to be. Though we have had our crisis times in our marriage and family, both have happily survived. Yet, so many of our friends' marriages have not. Though many Christian couples state the same vows as we did, for all too many, the eternally pledged circle is broken. But why?
In the United States today approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce, (Christian marriages are only 12% better), thousands of children are abused physically and sexually, wives are battered, children run away, over 6,000 adolescents annually commit suicide, and families disintegrate. The pressures of our world are immense and most difficult to cope with. Even in our churches we are confronted with the "besetting sins" (He 12:1) that destroy the circle that was to be unbroken.
Over the past few years, it has been my privilege to work with many families who were at their breaking point. There has been a renewed interest amongst secular and Christian circles alike to at least recognize and acknowledge the immensity of the family breakdown. As impressive as the statistics of divorce, abuse and self-destruction may be, there remain mixed views amongst the church of Jesus Christ as to how we should approach the wounded or broken family. It is apparent that something must be done to stem the tide.
Structure of this Book
This book has been developed for easy application. To ensure a progressive flow, the book is organized on the principle of first things first. That is, the reader should begin as God did, with the creation of man, the expression of his purposes, and the foundation of relationships - marriage. This comprises Section 1 of this book.
Section 2 focuses directly on family life, especially parenting, beginning when the first child emerges on the scene. Family life in the western world has become increasingly complex, rife with potential pitfalls. These will be discussed in light of scriptural principles. Every family is uniquely constituted. Thus, the challenges that each family faces are equally unique.
In Section 3 special concerns that may be faced in family life are developed. This is followed with a bibliography and glossary of terms that will prove valuable for further research and information.
The final section is written with some trepidation. I will attempt to present some fairly complex information on counseling troubled families in a simplified form. Essentially, my hope is to provide the Christian and professional with a counseling model to assist in understanding, diagnosis and treatment of the symptoms of marital and family dysfunction at a beginning professional level. This is by no means a comprehensive approach, but a broad strokes application of therapeutic techniques and models that have been helpful in my counseling ministry. It is not a substitute for advanced clinical training.