We all want to look normal, to think of ourselves as normal, but the writers of Scripture insist that no one is “totally normal”—at least not as God defines normal. “All we like sheep have gone astray,” they tell us. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This explains a very important aspect of the opening pages of Scripture.
One of the most ironic remarks about the Bible I hear from time to time is when someone says that it’s a book about pious, stained-glass characters who do not reflect the real world.
I always know that means they haven’t read it. Have you ever noticed how many messed-up families there are in Genesis?
Here’s a quick summary:
Cain is jealous of Abel and kills him. Lamech introduces polygamy to the world. Noah—the most righteous man of his generation—gets drunk and curses his own grandson.
Lot, when his home is surrounded by residents of Sodom who want to violate his visitors, offers instead that they can have sex with his daughters. Later on, his daughters get him drunk and get impregnated by him—and Lot is the most righteous man in Sodom!
Abraham plays favorites between his sons Isaac and Ishmael; they’re estranged.
Isaac plays favorites between his sons Jacob and Esau; they’re bitter enemies for twenty years. Jacob plays favorites between Joseph and his other eleven sons; the brothers want to kill Joseph and end up selling him into slavery.
Their marriages are disasters:
Abraham has sex with his wife’s servant, then sends her and their son off to the wilderness at his wife’s request. Isaac and Rebekah fight over which boy gets the blessing. Jacob marries two wives and ends up with both of their maids as his concubines as well when they get into a fertility contest.
Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben, sleeps with his father’s concubine.
Another son, Judah, sleeps with his daughter-in-law when she disguises herself as a prostitute. She does this because she is childless since her first two husbands—both sons of Judah—were so wicked that God killed them both; and Judah reneged on his obligations to her.
These people need a therapist.
These are not the Waltons. They need Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Spock, Dr. Seuss—they need somebody. (Feel any better about your family?) — Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them (John Ortberg)