August 1, 2021

Resolving Family Conflicts Biblically

Passage: James 4:1-10

In the late spring of her sixth-grade year, it was as if [our daughter] Wendy came out of her bedroom one day and said, “I’m going to ruin your lives for the next four years.” Overnight she became strong-willed and argumentative.

Of course, she was worried about her appearance, going into junior high, and hormonal changes that she (and I) didn’t understand. She was moody; she didn’t want to eat dinner with us; she spent hours in her bedroom alone. That summer on vacation, she wanted to do her thing first and then go back to the hotel; she didn’t want to let [others] do what they wanted to do. …

Every statement was an absolute: “I’m never going to school again.” “I’m not going to talk to that person ever again.” …That [attitude] set up many head-to-head battles. For example, I’d ask, “Where do you want to go for supper?”

“I don’t care.”

“Fine. I’ll decide.”

In the car, she’d ask, “Where are we going?”


“I refuse to eat there. I want to go to Burger King.”

“I asked you, and you said you didn’t care, so I made the decision. The next time I ask, please tell me and we’ll go to Burger King, but tonight we’re going to McDonald’s.”

“Then I’m not eating!”[1]

I’m sure that kind of thing never happens in your family, but it does happen in many families. The writer of that testimony is a pastor, and the conflict he experienced in his family caused him a great deal of pain and distress.

In the process of dealing with his own family conflict, he discovered that other people in the church, even those families that seemed to be doing very well, experienced similar kinds of conflict within their own homes.

I recognize that family conflict is quite common, even within faithful Christian families. It shouldn’t be, but it is. In most families, conflict flares up from time to time. In some families, conflict is almost non-stop. We may not see it when families are at church, but conflict may be nearly constant at home.

Every family member would benefit from reducing conflict. Christian homes should be peaceful and harmonious. At least, members of the family should not be at each other’s throats all the time. Conflict should be rare and minor in Christian homes.

Today I’d like to talk about the causes of family conflict and then suggest several steps we can take to reduce or eliminate family conflict.

[1] Marshall Shelley, The Healthy Hectic Home: Raising a Family in the Midst of Ministry, vol. 16, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Dallas, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub., 1988), 166–167. Edited.

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