First Comes Love by Scott HahnFirst of all, this book took me months to read. I finally just today used up my renewals and paid the overdue fines because I wanted to finish. It isn't the type of book that you read cover to cover. Anytime that I was stuck somewhere with this as my only reading material and I attempted to read it that way, I always had to come back later to reread. There were times in this book that I was like, "Okay, I get it. You are just repeating yourself but saying it a little bit different." When I read it in chapter-size pieces, it got much more out of it. The book involves (at least for me) a lot of rereading and stopping to think. Often I would ask myself, "Do I believe this?" or "Is this really what that Scripture meant?" In general, the ideas are old...ancient, in fact, (LOL) but are timeless. Good friends read this book aloud as a family. I think that would be a great way to read and discuss this book.
What I'll call the family imperative is a basic assumption in our culture. Universities know it, for example, and so they try to market themselves as a surrogate family to teens who are making their first venture from the parental homestead...refer to alumni mailings as alma mater, which is Latin for "nourishing mother." The campus has both fraternities and sororities - literally, brotherhoods and sisterhoods - and every year it celebrates homecoming week.
Those who have grown up in dysfunctional homes, or those who have been betrayed by lovers, know that they have been deprived of some great good. Their anger, bitterness, and sadness overwhelm them precisely because they know they lack something essential...Their family is not what it should have been, not what God created it to be. The fault, then, is not with the family as God created it, but with particular families as they stray from God's plan. Family dysfunction is undoubtedly a consequence of Original Sin...
These two revolutions in religious though - that a man can be a child of God and that God is a Trinity - constitute the core doctrine of Christianity. Jesus revealed both teachings exclusively in the language of the family, and the theology of Jesus Christ is inconceivable in any but familial terms.
(In regards to Mark 3:31-35) In that crowd stood many who were outside Jesus' tribe; yet Jesus clearly saw them as His closest kin, so close that they enjoyed the same status as His blood relatives including His mother.
Often, people think that Jesus' suffering somehow vented the wrath of a vengeful deity - as if God were an unforgiving judge who needed to exact his pound of flesh from an innocent but willing victim. Such images fall far short of the Gospel truth. For God's love is just, and His justice is loving. "love is the fulfilling of the law," said St. Paul (Romans 13:10). If, however we imagine God as an enraged, myopic judge, then we deny both His merciful love and His perfect justice...
It bespeaks a love so strong that "the two become one" - as I have said before - a "one" so real that in nine months you might have to give it a name. Sex is an act of extraordinary power, when we let it speak its truth.
Single people are full members of God's family. Indeed, the grace of Christian life give them a broader vision of family life. In Christ, they are never alone, for they are always among their brothers and sisters in the Communion of Saints. Single Christians walk with close family members wherever they go, at work and at leisure. They are single not because they haven't found a family. They are single as a way of living family life. Their single status enables them to do God's work and to reach people they could not otherwise reach.