The Perfect Family–Isn’t.

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Last week I saw a sign on a church building, saying that no perfect people were allowed inside. That’s good because the church would be empty otherwise, right? While we can—perhaps reluctantly—accept the fact that we as individuals are not perfect, it is hard to let go of the ideal of wanting a perfect family. I can think of two reasons for this, one good reason and one bad reason:

The Good Reason

We love each person in our family deeply and desperately want each one to make godly choices every time.

The Bad Reason

We are too concerned about the opinions of others and want them to think that our family is perfect.

It is easy to idealize other families and then look at our own family and feel like an absolute failure as a mama. We simply must get real and give up the idea of a perfect family. God has always worked through imperfect people and imperfect families. Consider what God said about choosing Abraham:

For I have chosen him,
so that he may command his children
and his household after him
to keep the way of the Lord
by doing righteousness and justice,
so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham
what He has spoken about him.
Genesis 18:19

Abraham did have descendants who kept the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, and he also had descendants who didn’t.

David, the man after God’s own heart, prayed this for his son Solomon:

. . . give to my son Solomon a perfect heart
to keep Your commandments,
Your testimonies and Your statutes,
and to do them all . . .
1 Chronicles 29:19


. . . when Solomon was old,
his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods;
and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God,
as the heart of his father David had been.
1 Kings 11:4

Always looking for photos to use for illustrations, I had fun searching for “perfect” pictures from the Library of Congress. Here are a few of the ones I found, along with excerpts of their Library of Congress captions.

A Perfect Restaurant

Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Morris, owners and proprietors of the Perfect Eat Shop, a restaurant on 47th Street near South Park, Chicago, Illinois. (April 1942)

A Perfect Record

September 1943—Bernard Cochran, Greyhound bus driver. He has a perfect record of fourteen years, never having had an accident while driving a bus. 

A Perfect Fit

May 1939—Drawing the lower of the boot over the last in order to assure perfect fit. Cowboy boot shop, Alpine, Texas.

A Perfect Sphere

April 1930—Largest perfect sphere of crystal in world now in National Museum [now known as the Smithsonian]. . . . Captain George Johnson, of the museum guards, is shown in photograph.

Perfect Eggs


December 1, 1937—Since the last passenger pigeon in existence died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, the eggs from the now extinct birds have become so scarce that G. Ellis Miller is asking $300 apiece for the three perfect ones in his possession–with no takers. The eggs were left to Miller by his grandfather from a collection made 75 years ago–when the birds flew in flocks that darkened the sun and broke branches off trees when they roosted en masse. Marjorie Beall, biology student at George Washington University, is shown studying the eggs which are kept in a display with carved birds and other eggs.

Perfected Can Opener

1920—[The perfect can opener]: After seeing countless cut fingers and much time and energy wasted in opening jam cans for the canteen’s daily output of sandwiches in Tours, Capt. S.A. Mitchell, manager of the American Red Cross store, decided something ought to be done about it. With some experimenting he succeeded in perfecting a practical can opener, and dedicated it to the girls of the Red Cross canteen. And only the girls themselves can tell what an endless amount of time and strength, to say nothing of temper, that can opener saved them. They could make hundreds of jam sandwiches for their khaki customers in almost no time after this can opener came into existence. Today it is reposing in the American Red Cross museum, in Washington, D.C. among other cherished war relics.

Perfect Health

c. 1867—If you wish perfect health, use the National Bitters.

January 6, 1937—The chief executive [President Franklin Roosevelt] appears in perfect health.

Perfect Comfort

December 16, 1936—Rep. James P. Buchanan, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, believes in perfect comfort as he drives home a point at a meeting . . . 

Perfect Political Harmony—Really?

November 7, 1938—Perfect harmony prevailed today as President Roosevelt’s Special Committee of Rail Labor and Management representatives discussed proposed recommendations for legislative aid for the industry. 

A Perfect Child?

And this photo from c. 1900 had a simple caption of one word: Perfect.

She is adorable and perfectly made in God’s image, but like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way”? I doubt it, don’t you? As we think about the perfect family, we need to let God’s Word define that perfection. Shockingly, Jesus did indeed tell us in the Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore you are to be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

We need to lay aside our ideals of outward appearing family perfection and think about how God is perfect. The traits God has are what I should emulate myself, what I should teach my children, what I should encourage in my husband, and what I can watch God create in all of us who are willing. Let’s think about three of these that are stated in His Word: God’s work is perfect. God’s law is perfect. God is perfectly faithful.

The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
Deuteronomy 32:4

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:7

O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
Isaiah 25:1

Try as we might, we cannot force anyone else to choose to follow God. We can encourage. We can be examples. We cannot force. However, for us and all of our family members who do choose to trust in and follow Jesus completely, we can be confident as Paul was confident:

For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

As we live together in our own imperfect families, and as we see those families around us who we thought were perfect and then find out they are not, we must remember:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved,
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience; bearing with one another,
and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;
just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
Beyond all these things put on love,
which is the perfect bond of unity.
Colossians 3:12-14




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