“FAMILY BREAKDOWN ISN’T JUST WHEN SOMEONE LEAVES HOME”
Imagine living in a home dominated by conflict, where beatings are common and there is fear when the door opens and a family member approaches.
Many struggle with broken relationships in their families and within society at large. “Family breakdown and fragmentation isn’t just when someone leaves home,” wrote Victoria, a SAT-7 PARS viewer. “There are families that live together in one home, but within that home, there is enmity, strife and betrayal. They undermine one another with insults and threats. A kind of spiritual and emotional divorce takes place between children and their parents. Instead of love and kindness, there is hatred and animosity.”
While many things may contribute to the fracturing of relationships, cultural factors often play a significant part. How marriage is perceived in Iran is one such factor, where religious laws allow a man to marry up to four wives and to have numerous ‘temporary wives’.
The economy is another factor with soaring unemployment contributing to a reduction in rates of marriage and childbirth. Meanwhile, divorce rates increased one and a half times between 2006 and 2014.
Couples may be forced to live with their parents due to economic circumstances. This maximises the potential for intrusion, often in the guise of help or advice, from family members or friends.
“I hope there are more programmes about marriage as we truly need it,” said Pirooz, a SAT-7 PARS viewer calling from Iran in response to a programme focusing on broken relationships.
“The harmful influence of my parents led to the breakdown of my first marriage. My wife and I lived with my parents and I can now see how their negative comments undermined our marriage. Now I live away from my parents with my second wife. I am being filled daily with Christian teaching and by the Holy Spirit, built-up so I am better able to deal with the daily challenges of life.”
SUPPORTING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Pastor Miltan, who presents Our Neighbourhood, a SAT-7 PARS program exploring issues people face from a biblical perspective, observes: “We are made to be in relationship with our Creator and with other people. We are damaged when we lack a proper understanding of what it means to be in relationship.”
Our Neighbourhood attempts to provide support and solutions for couples and families struggling with relationship issues. “True Christian marriage is based on covenant and commitment, not merely on a contract. We need to run marriage preparation classes for our people to prepare them for life together,” suggests Miltan.
“Our cultural assumptions are challenged by Jesus who calls us to love one another as He loved us. For husbands and wives to submit to each other and for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.”