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The Problem of Insight
Genesis 30:4-21

A number of my students are training to be family therapists, and they are often intrigued by these stories in Genesis. They are excited to find how dysfunctional these families are because in their own way they match our dysfunctional families, but the students are then disappointed to find how little these chapters provide by way of solutions. They do suggest moralistic solutions— don’t marry more than one person; don’t be jealous when someone else has a baby; don’t blame your spouse for the fact that you can’t have a baby (whether it is the husband or the wife who has the problem). These are good pieces of advice, though often they are useless ones. They are pretty obvious, and they would be unnecessary if we did not find it hard to heed them. It takes a degree of spiritual and emotional maturity to live by them, and most people lack that. And knowledge of how these dynamics work may not help you much. This weekend we watched a movie called Rachel Getting Married that has nothing to do with Rachel in Genesis but illustrates this point. Rachel is a therapist about to complete her PhD, but her “insight” about relationships within her own family only extends to her being able to put angry labels on things and use her “insight” to scorn other people. The significance of these stories in Genesis is not to provide tips on how to avoid getting into a mess or how to get out of one, but to remind us that we all get into messes and that this does not stop God from being at work...

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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