“When you’re looking at the US from the outside,” says Jim Daly, “we’re seeing fewer and fewer vestiges of the Christian faith in our culture.”
That’s especially true when it comes to the family, an institution at the heart of culture but which has sustained crippling blows in the form of divorce, infidelity, pornography, and now the normalization and promotion of same-sex relations. For a long time, Christians have taken a defensive posture when it comes to protecting the family. But Jim Daly says it’s become increasingly clear to him and the rest of the team at Focus on the Family that the time to defend this foundational structure has passed. Re-educating our culture on the very meaning of family must become the Church’s priority if we hope to see positive change.
“Right now we have an opportunity in our culture to establish the goodness of family, the goodness of children,” he says. The repercussions of recapturing a love for and understanding of family on a national scale, Daly believes, would be staggering, and all of society would reap the benefits.“When you have healthy families—biological moms and dads engaged, in love, guess what? Their children do best in all indications, whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, academically.”
But as with so many truths, we can only understand and teach this one to others by going back to the beginning—to the Designer's instruction manual. In this respect, Daly believes we’ll be imitating Christ.
When the question of marriage and family came before our Lord, He wasted no time returning to Genesis for his answer—for the design God created and blessed:
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?” (Matthew 19:4-5)
Jesus offered this in response to a group of religious leaders who didn’t understand marriage as God created it. If ever there was a time and place in the same confusion, it’s America in 2014.
“We’re pursuing lies that really tear our hearts apart,” says Daly, “because we’re not created to live those lies. We’re created for the truth.”
That’s why Focus on the Family has teamed up with the Colson Center’s John Stonetreet and other top voices and experts on marriage, family and the Christian worldview to launch an offensive campaign designed to re-acquaint our culture with marriage. It’s called “Irreplaceable,” and it kicks off with a national film event in theaters nationwide on May 6th.
They began by traveling the world to ask a simple set of questions: “What is family to you? What is marriage? [What is] the value of children?”
The answers respondents gave, says Daly, “began to paint the picture of where we’re failing.”
During a particularly stirring moment in the film, the crew interviews professional athletes who grew up as the victims of one such cultural failure: fatherlessness. Even in the midst of lucrative and prestigious careers, these men say they frequently enter the stadiums on game day hoping and praying to see their dads in the stands, cheering them on.
It’s an especially poignant image for Daly, who remembers playing football in high school, during a time when most kids had involved fathers and intact homes.
“I think there were only three or four of us who didn’t have a father out of thirty-five to forty guys[ on the team],” he says. “And they would call each dad’s name and he would run out onto the field and they got to me and they’d say, ‘Jim Daly’s dad is not present tonight.’ And they’d move on to the next guy. That left a hole in my heart as a young man.”
Understanding and identifying with the already-broken is crucial to the success of reintroducing our culture with the family. Nobody is “damaged goods.” We’re all in need of repair and redemption, and that’s why Daly and the rest of the team behind “Irreplaceable” are so excited about the film and the movement they hope to spark; because it’s a movement based on grace.
“What does someone from a divorced family, or a fatherless situation do?” asks Daly. That’s one of the questions Focus on the Family seeks to answer in this movie, as they chart not only an offensive strategy to rebuild a culture of family, but a way forward for individuals.
It all starts with a one-night motion picture event on May 6th. Daly encourages listeners—especially pastors—to visit www.IrreplaceabletheMovie.com to find out how their church can rent out an entire theater. Visitors to the website will also find out how to launch a group study following the film. Daly hopes that this top-notch curriculum, in the tradition of Focus on the Family’s 2007 “The Truth Project,” will reach millions of hearts and minds with the message of God’s design for the first human institution.
“…it would be a wonderful if we in the Christian community could make a positive statement to the culture that we believe in God’s design for the family, we believe in God’s design for marriage, we believe in the blessing of marriage.”
"BreakPoint This Week" is hosted by John Stonestreet, co-host of the BreakPoint daily radio commentary as well as The Point.