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Jim Daly discusses new Focus on the Family film “Irreplaceable”

April 30, 2014

“What is family?” If you pose that question to 10 different people in today’s culture, you’ll likely get ten very different answers. It will come as a surprise to no one reading this blog that the biblical understanding of the family is in a state of flux. There is simply no longer a consensus on the issue. In our modern context, the word ‘family’ has come to mean almost anything—or nothing at all.

And yet, the answers are right in front of us. We find the blueprint for family throughout history and culture. It is time-tested and reliable. Most importantly, it is laid out before us in the pages of Scripture. If the Church could just recapture that vision and embrace God’s design for family, we could revolutionize our society.

That is the thinking behind Irreplaceable, Focus on the Family’s new documentary film (and its companion small group experience, The Family Project). When our team first started work on these initiatives, we had three concepts at the forefront of our minds: Recover, Renew and Reclaim. We want this documentary to play a part in helping to recover the institution of the family and to ensure that it is enshrined in its proper place at the center of society. When we allow the biblical understanding of the family to become watered down, we’re inviting trouble. Of course, no family is perfect. That’s not what this movie is about. We’re all marred by sin and dysfunction to varying degrees. But it’s imperative that we strive for the ideal.

We also want Irreplaceable to facilitate a renewal of our culture’s understanding about the family. As I have already noted, the historical vision of the family has become so distorted in the 21st century as to become virtually meaningless. But we believe the family offers something unique and important to mankind—something that can’t be replicated when we attempt to tamper with it and redefine it. There’s a reason why God repeatedly uses the language of family to describe our relationship with him. In a very real sense, the community of father, mother and child is a direct representation of the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The family is a signpost pointing to the Creator.

Finally, we believe that Irreplaceable will help build momentum to reclaim what has been lost in our culture as a result of the breakdown of the family. If you think about some of the most pressing social issues of our day—divorce, abuse, poverty, addictions, crime, teen pregnancy, academic underachievement and the list goes on—they are, without exception, tied directly to familial brokenness. But research consistently shows that these social ills are dramatically reduced when families are healthy and strong.

The film itself follows host Tim Sisarich (former Executive Director of Focus on the Family New Zealand) on a quest around the world as he consults with commentators and theologians to address questions such as “What is family?” “What is marriage?” and “Why are mothers and fathers important?” Again, you and I might take the answers to those questions for granted. But from a cultural perspective, the answers are very much up for debate.

Along the way, Tim gains insights from a host of renowned experts and theologians, including Eric Metaxas, Michael Medved, Gabe and Rebekah Lyons, Nancy Pearcey and many more. Whether looking at the issue through the lens of theology, or history, or anthropology, all the evidence points to the same conclusion: Stable families are where so many of our society’s wounds begin to heal.

This is true whether you embrace a Christian worldview or not. The family is an expression of God’s common grace to all mankind, and we tamper with it at our peril. So while Irreplaceable is firmly grounded in a biblical worldview, it has a message for everyone. We feel so strongly about this message that we’ve partnered with Fathom Events to host a special one-night screening in movie theaters nationwide on Tuesday, May 6. This would make an excellent event for your church or small group. It also represents an outreach opportunity for colleagues or neighbors who you feel might be open to the film’s message. So invite your friends. To purchase tickets and find participating theaters near you for the May 6 event, go to IrreplaceableTheMovie.com.

We believe Irreplaceable represents a unique opportunity for the Church. As believers embrace the beauty of God’s design for the family and share it with others in their circles of influence, real cultural transformation is possible. In fact, with God’s blessing, it is inevitable. We’ve invested a great deal of effort in this project—and countless prayers. God has been faithful to answer those prayers as he has opened the doors to make this one-night, nationwide screening a reality. Please join us at your local theater on May 6, and please pray that the Lord would use this screening to touch hearts and minds and to help recover, renew, and reclaim the cultural conversation about the family.