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DBPC 600, Module One
Balswick: Chapter 1
Approaches to Using Scripture for Understanding Family Life:
Common Approach:
- Selecting key verses from various scriptural passages about family.
- Arranging chosen verses akin to arranging owers in a bouquet.
- Issues arise from disagreements due to dierent interpretations of
Strip-Mining Mentality:
- Ignoring historical and cultural contexts while selecting verses.
- Results in a biased interpretation that aligns with preconceived notions.
- Not considering the total context can lead to misinterpretation and abuse
of Scripture.
Broad View and Theological Interpretation:
- Emphasizes considering relevant biblical references alongside theological
- Avoids cherry-picking verses and instead focuses on deeper meaning.
- Utilizes typological approaches for deeper understanding across
Direct Quotes:
1. "Ignoring the historical and cultural context, the strip miner tears into the
veins of Scripture, throws the unwanted elements aside, and emerges with
selected golden nuggets of truth."
2. "Doing so would mean that we accept slaves as part of God’s intention for
family households. Dunn concludes that such an approach is an abuse of
Trinitarian Relationality and Image Bearing:
Divine Model:
- Relationality within the Holy Trinity serves as a model for family
- Analogy between God's relations within the Trinity and human family
Image Bearing:
- Humanity created in the image of God to ful0ll covenant responsibilities.
- Commission includes governance, development/liberation of creation, and
Application to Family Relationships:
- Distinction and unity coexist among family members.
- Mutual indwelling and fellowship within the family analogous to the
Trinity's relationship.
God in Relationship and Covenantal Framework:
Familial Language in Scripture:
- Analogies describing the covenant relationship between God and
- Covenant entails responsibilities, stipulations, consequences, and
Covenantal Framework for Family:
- Covenant forms the foundation of family relationships.
- Covenant love provides the basis for family beyond mere blood ties.
- Features of covenant include forgiveness, acceptance, law, and temporal
Image Bearing and Covenant Responsibilities:
- Ful0llment of covenant responsibilities leads to blessings.
- Covenant model guides family dynamics in terms of stewardship,
fecundity, and blessings.
Direct Quote:
1. "Covenant forms the foundation of our theology of family relationships.
Covenant results in image bearing, and image bearing entails ful0lling
the covenant stipulations of dominion or stewardshipthat is, ruling
over the birds of the air and 0sh of the seaand fecundity regarding
ospring and culture development."
Elements in a Theology of Family Relationships
Dimensions of Christian Relating:
- Core virtue, grounding other aspects.
- Unconditional commitment.
- Example of God's relationship with humanity.
- Emerges from covenantal foundation.
- Demonstrated in forgiveness and mercy.
- Allows freedom and empowerment.
- Facilitates growth and maturity.
- Active process of helping others realize potential.
- Respects uniqueness and fosters con0dence.
- Deepens as covenant is solidi0ed.
- Mutual involvement essential for growth.
- Development of trust and closeness.
Dynamics of Family Relationships:
Dynamic and Maturing
- Oriented towards God's intended telos.
- Marked by covenant commitment, grace, empowerment, and intimacy.
Stagnant and Dying
- Deviate from God's ideal.
- Result of sin, away from covenant virtues.
- Fixed on contract rather than covenant, law rather than grace.
Unconditional Love and Covenant:
God's Covenant
- Exempli0ed in relationships with Noah and Abraham.
- Unconditional, but bene0ts depend on response.
- Extended to families across generations.
Reciprocity in Covenant
- Covenant relationships can be unilateral or bilateral.
- Unconditional commitment can lead to mutual reciprocation.
- God's covenant with humanity reects unconditional love.
Grace and Empowerment in Family Relationships:
Grace vs. Law
- Grace-based relationships overrule legalism.
- Forgiveness and mercy essential.
- Christ's sacri0ce exempli0es God's grace.
- Counter to conventional power dynamics.
- Equipping, strengthening, and building up others.
- Facilitates growth and development.
Biblical Examples:
Prodigal Son
- Father's empowerment through inheritance.
- Illustrates grace and forgiveness in family relationships.
Direct Quotes:
1. "Here is the promise of the mutual indwelling of Gods
unconditional love in us as we dwell in Gods love through the
sacri6ce of Christ and the presence of the Spirit."
2. "Empowerment, however, is a biblical model for the use of power
that is completely contrary to its common use in the family or in
society at large."
- Empowerment is the action of God in people’s lives, exempli0ed
supremely in Jesus Christ.
- Jesus rede0ned power as service rather than control, empowering
those on the margins.
- Mutual empowerment fosters unity and cooperation, contrasting with
power struggles.
- God provides unlimited power for empowerment, encouraging mutual
building up in relationships.
Quote: "But the good news for Christians is that the power of God is
available to all persons in unlimited supply!"
-Intimacy involves knowing and being known, communicating openly
without fear.
- It is rooted in covenant love, grace, and empowerment, leading to
trust and mutual understanding.
- Confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation are vital for deepening
intimacy in relationships.
- Intimacy brings relationships to full maturity, enabling genuine
communion and care.
Quote: "Intimacy will bring relationships to full maturity."
Applying the Theological Model: From Hurting to Healing Behaviors
- Christian family relationships are characterized by covenant love,
grace, empowerment, and intimacy.
- These elements form a continual process where each strengthens the
- Progression towards healing behaviors fosters family growth and
bene0ts, while regression to hurting behaviors has negative
Quote: "As long as they move in the direction of healing, they will
grow and the family will bene6t."
Hurting Behavior
- Conditional love, self-centeredness, perfectionism, fault0nding, and
control dominate hurting families.
- Individuals feel unloved, unworthy, and fear rejection, perpetuating a
cycle of defensive behavior.
- Hurting families withhold grace, demand perfection, and control
rather than empower their members.
- A:rmation, validation, acceptance, forgiveness, and empowerment
are needed to break the cycle.
Quote: "Hurting families tend to withhold grace, often demanding
unreasonable perfection and blaming those members who dont
measure up."
Healing Behavior: The Cure
- Healing involves experiencing unconditional love, acceptance, and
- Open communication and honest expression of feelings break the
cycle of denial and fear.
- Individuals need a safe atmosphere to express themselves and be
heard and understood by others.
- Experiencing God's unconditional love and maturing in faith enable
the adoption of healing behaviors.
Quote: "An individual who has been loved only conditionally needs
to experience unconditional love in order to feel lovable enough to
give love and to support others."
Maturing Relationships
- Family relationships progress from hurting to healing behaviors, akin
to individual believers' growth in Christ.
- Maturing relationships extend beyond the family, enabling members
to reach out to others.
Quote: "We have seen that living in covenant love is a dynamic
The journey from hurting to healing behaviors in family relationships is
guided by the principles of empowerment, covenant love, and grace. As
individuals experience God's unconditional love and empowerment, they are
equipped to extend the same to their family members, fostering intimacy,
communication, and mutual support. By embracing healing behaviors and
breaking free from the cycle of dysfunction, families can ful"ll their God-
given potential and extend grace and empowerment to others beyond their
immediate circle.
Quote: “Living in covenant love is a dynamic process."
Chapter 2
The Family as Biosocial a Developing System
- Introduces two theoretical perspectives: family-systems theory and
family-development theory.
- Family-systems theory emphasizes family life as interactions of
interrelated parts, considering individuals within their relational
- Family-development theory views families as developing over time
through natural life-cycle stages, emphasizing the interplay between
individual development and relationship context.
Quote: "Both family-systems theory and family-development theory
emphasize the interrelationships between the individual’s bio-
psycho-social development and the relationship context in which he
or she is embedded."
Family-Systems Theory
- Describes a holistic approach understanding family life as a whole
system with various levels, including individual, nuclear family,
extended family, and broader societal contexts.
- Illustrates the concept of boundaries within family systems,
distinguishing between open and closed systems.
- Explains feedback processes within family systems, including simple
feedback, cybernetic control, morphogenesis, and reorientation.
Quote: "A system is by de6nition any identi6able whole composed of
interrelated individual parts."
Simple Feedback
- Involves a cause-and-eect model where behavior is controlled
through stimulus-response mechanisms.
- Illustrated by examples such as behavior modi0cation techniques
used in parenting, where desired behavior is reinforced through
Quote: "Family members frequently use simple feedback as a
stimulus for change."
Cybernetic Control
- Features self-monitoring mechanisms within the system to maintain
homeostasis or optimal functioning.
- Analogous to a thermostat maintaining room temperature within a set
range by turning the heating system on and o accordingly.
- Represents the family's capacity to generate new response patterns
when existing methods are ineective or faced with new situations.
- Requires exibility and adaptability within the family system to
respond to changes and challenges over time.
Quote: "The family will be challenged to form new response patterns
to these events as well."
Quote: "The e=ective family understands that >exibility in structure,
as well as relational connection between family members, is needed
to operate on the morphogenetic level."
Di=erentiation of Self (DoS):
- Developed from family-systems theory
- Focuses on family functioning over time
- Involves maintaining balance between individuality and togetherness
- Helps individuals remain authentic while engaging in change
- Illustrated by a case study with Carlos questioning college attendance
Quote: "Di=erentiation helps each family member to maintain their
relationships with each other while allowing each to solidify their
core values and beliefs."
- Involves changing the family's entire goal
- Rare compared to morphogenesis and homeostasis
- Examples include understanding alcoholism or religious conversion
- Occurs when existing patterns prove unworkable and damaging
Quote: "Reorientation is most needed when a familys existing
patterns of behavior prove to be totally unworkable and damaging
to its members."
Biological In>uences on the Family:
- Growing acceptance of biological factors in family study
- Interaction between genetic and environmental factors
- Interpersonal neurobiology emphasizes brain and relationship uidity
- Importance: holistic understanding and reduced parental guilt
Quote: "Considering biological in>uences on the family is important
for at least two reasons."
Family-Development Theory:
- Describes family progression through various stages
- Each stage involves unique developmental tasks
- Balancing cohesion, adaptability, communication, and role structure
- Example stages: premarital, marital dyad, triad, launching,
Quote: "The family is not only responding to its current environment
and trying to adapt to inputs but the family is also embedded in
Integration of Systems and Development Theories:
- Family as a developing system responding to change
- Balance between stability and adaptability
- Eective families exhibit cohesion, adaptability, clear communication,
and structured roles
Quote: "Only e=ective families can survive the intrusiveness of our
contemporary society."
- Eective family life relies heavily on communication.
- Good communication involves clarity of perception and expression.
- Clarity of perception includes listening skills and empathy.
- Clarity of expression involves forthrightness and congruency between
words and body language.
- Eective families communicate feelings, opinions, wishes, and desires
- Empathic skills enable understanding and connection in
Quote: "The dynamics of good communication boil down to clarity of
perception and clarity of expression."
Role Structure
- Family members have de0ned roles within the family unit.
- Role conict arises when expectations clash.
- Eective families express and negotiate role expectations.
- Generational boundaries are crucial for family dynamics.
- Clear but permeable boundaries allow exibility in roles.
- Crossing generational boundaries can lead to confusion and disrupt
Quote: "Highly e=ective families... decide to share responsibility in
the home in a way that allows both to be ful6lled by work outside
the home."
Integrated View
- Integration of biblical and social science knowledge is essential for
understanding family relationships.
- Christian presuppositions and social science biases inuence
- Integration requires a careful examination of both perspectives.
Quote: "The biblical basis for family relationships... provide[s] the
overarching framework for an integrated view of marriage and
family relationships."
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