About the Guest
What is the family, really? And why does it matter? Jim Daly talks with Dennis Rainey about Focus on the Family's new documentary on the family, Irreplaceable, showing one-day only on May 6 in select theatres.
Jim DalyJim Daly's personal journey from orphan to head of an international Christian organization dedicated to helping families thrive is a powerful story. Abandoned by his alcoholic father at age 5, Daly lost his mother to cancer four years later - a wound deepened when his grieving stepfather emptied the family home and took off with almost everything while Daly, the youngest of five children, and his siblings were at their mother's funeral. Several tough years in foster care followed, before Daly...more
What is the family, really? And why does it matter? Jim Daly talks with Dennis Rainey about Focus on the Family’s new documentary on the family, Irreplaceable.
Bob: Does it seem to you that we live in a culture that is divided—a nation that has become polarized? It seems that way to Focus on the Family® President Jim Daly.
Jim: Right now, in the culture, we just tend to get in corners and shout at each other. Why not talk with each other? That’s what I see in Paul when he would go on his missionary journeys—talking to the culture—speaking to them about the unknown God. Folks, we are back there. People do not know who the Lord is—and for us to get into the culture and say, “Here is what God says about family,”—not with condemnation, not with a club, but in a way that lifts you up if you follow it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, May 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today from Focus on the Family President Jim Daly about a new attempt that ministry is making to try to engage in some civil dialogue. You’ll hear about it today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. This could be a record-breaking week at the Lepine house because—
Dennis: I’m trying to think on—“What’s the occasion?”
Bob: I don’t think there’s ever been a week in our life when I’ve gotten my wife to go to the movie theater twice in one week.
Dennis: But she’s going twice this week?
Bob: Twice this week. She does not like movie—she would rather stay home and watch it on a DVD, or Netflix®, or something, later. She doesn’t like sitting in a seat where somebody else had their head on the back of that seat—you know, right before her—and where somebody had to clean the gunk off the floor. She just—and it’s too loud. She takes ear plugs to the movie theaters with her because, when the trailers come on and they’re really loud, she just puts the ear plugs in her ears; alright?
But, this week—twice—tomorrow night for the one-night only movie that we’re going to talk about today, called Irreplaceable—and then Friday night for the opening of Moms’ Night Out, which is going to be in theaters all across the country, starting this weekend. So, yes, I’m going to get her twice to the theaters!
Dennis: Well, you know why she’s going to Irreplaceable.
Dennis: Jim Daly stars in it. [Laughter]
Jim: That’s it.
Dennis: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, Jim!
Jim: It’s great to be with you guys! I’m feeling better already!
Dennis: I know.
Bob: Are you in the movie? Do we see you in the movie?
Jim: I’m actually—you know, no, I’m not in it. [Laughter] How about that? I didn’t think I needed to be. [Laughter]
Dennis: Our listeners need to understand why we would think you would be in the movie. Focus on the Family is producing a one-night release—a theatrical release—called Irreplaceable. It’s about the state of the union of marriages and families. You’ve given leadership to this. Is that really your passion to this—is just calling the Christian community to wake up?
Jim: Well, you know, I think that and more, Dennis. I think Irreplaceable started in our minds about three years ago. We started to think about what we needed to say in the culture about God’s design for family because it seems like the culture wants to go in a lot of different directions when it comes to, you know, the definition of family.
If you think that’s misstated or misunderstood, just try to talk about, “What is family?” out there in the culture. We felt it would be good to come along and do—basically, it’s a documentary. We have over 50 people—experts, theologians, philosophers, man-on-the-street interviews, women-on-the-street interviews—just saying, “What is family?” It’s to ask the question and then, hopefully, answer that question through a DVD curriculum series called The Family Project that follows the movie.
Bob: I’ve seen the trailer for the film, and—Australian guy who is—
Jim: New Zealander.
Bob: I couldn’t pick out the accent to know whether it was Kiwi or Australian—but he is going around in search of: “What is at the essential core of this human institution, the family?”—right?
Jim: Correct; right. What’s so fascinating—I know modern sociologists are talking about the fact that families, as we know them today, are a new phenomenon—you know, a nuclear family of a husband, and wife, and children. I find that answer very interesting. I think that’s probably been the case for five thousand years. You have to have a man and a woman to create a child.
So, I think that definition of family has been true for all these years. Now, you may have had more family members around to help raise that child; but generally speaking, I don’t know of any other way to do it other than a man and a woman joining together—physically, emotionally, spiritually—and having a child.
Dennis: No doubt about it. Back about a month ago, I spoke at a speakers’ series called the Kemmons Wilson Speaker Series in Memphis, Tennessee.
It’s really interesting, Jim, to just listen to people—of how they need to be brought up to date with what is taking place in the family—and really, the state of the union—in terms of, not just how bad things are, but how important the family is, not only for today, but for future generations.
Jim: Absolutely. That’s perfectly-said, Dennis, because we’re not talking down to anybody. We’re trying to lift up God’s design as the aspirational approach. I think He’s the One who created the “Owner’s Manual”; right? So, why don’t we look at the Scripture to say, “What does He expect of us in human relationship—and the most intimate of relationships, our marriages—and how we treat each other?”
I think, when we follow those principles, generally, life is going to be a lot better than if we do not. I’m feeling—you know—again, re-introducing the culture to what God has to say about family is—the timing is perfect. I think the Lord’s hand is right on this, and I’m excited about May 6th.
It’s going to be a great night.
Bob: Well, I think people often think of a documentary—they kind of expect it to be some sparks to fly—that this is going to be challenging. You think of Michael Moore and the documentaries that he’s made—
Bob: —where he’s going and mixing it up with people. You didn’t take the approach that you wanted this to be really confrontational. You took a different approach.
Jim: We did. The reason is, again—I think, when you go into the banking business—and we’ve all heard this analogy—they teach how to know counterfeit money by teaching you real money. You handle it over, and over, and over again. Then, they slip in a counterfeit bill to see if you can identify it because it doesn’t feel right. The texture’s not right. It doesn’t crumple correctly.
I think that was really our approach here: “How can we show people God’s design for marriage and family in such a way that, when it’s not represented, you know it—not because somebody has to tell you. You just know it in your heart—like Romans talks about—
—it’s in our heart to know what is right. We just want to re-introduce, again, the culture to God’s perspective when it comes to family.
Dennis: I’m so glad you’re coming at it from a biblical standpoint—just to go back to the real thing, you know. Genesis, Chapter 2, makes it real clear. It says: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.”
I found that most of the debate really goes back to what this passage talks about, right here: “Who prescribed that it was a man and a woman and that they were to leave their parents, that they were to become one, and then live in intimacy with one another?”
Dennis: It was God that prescribed it. One of the reasons why, I think, this debate today in the culture and in the workplace is so difficult is—someone who has a world-view based on the Bible may be talking to someone who has a worldview that is based upon something other than the Bible.
That makes it impossible to come to agreement because we’re going to come at it from what the Bible says.
Jim: Well, the reason that the culture is so hot in this one area when we talk about marriage is because—you’re right—everybody’s coming at it now with a different definition: “Your family’s not my family. Your truth is not my truth.” So, we have to pull people back.
One of the arguments that I often hear when I talk to people who don’t understand a Christian perspective or don’t embrace a Christian perspective on marriage—they’ll say, “But Jesus never said it.” Well, actually, He did in Matthew 19. He says what you just read in Genesis. He repeats it: “A man shall leave his mother and father and cling, or cleave, to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
You know, again, I think that’s brilliant—that the Lord gave it to us once again as He walked on this earth—to re-iterate the fact that: “This is the plan. This is the design.” It’s not meant to be mean-spirited, at all; in fact, quite the opposite.
It’s meant to give us joy, and give us peace, and hopefully harmony in our houses; right? I hope that that’s the message that we get across.
Bob: We ought to explain to listeners that this movie is kind of a unique movie opportunity. It’s not something that’s coming out and then going to air six times on Friday and twelve times on Saturday. This is a one-time showing of this film on Tuesday night. So, if a listener is interested in going, they need to plan to be at their theater at the one showing that’s available.
Jim: Correct. We’re doing it that one night. Fathom is the group that brings all the theaters together—like AMC, and Regal, and Carmike. It’s over 700 theaters that will air it on that one night. It’s a one-night only showing; and then, really, it’s kicking off the curriculum, The Family Project™.
Bob: I want you to tell our listeners more about that; but let me just say: “If you’re interested in finding out if there’s a theater near you where the film is showing, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We have a link there that can get you hooked up, and you can plan to be at the theater for the showing of Irreplaceable.”
What is The Family Project? Explain that for our listeners.
Jim: The Family Project is—so if Irreplaceable, the documentary, asks the question—The Family Project is there to answer it. We go into more detail about gender—male and female—mother and father, “What does it mean to be one flesh?”—all of those attributes of family that we know in the Christian community—but we want to make sure that the culture is aware of it, as well. It’s a deeper dive—there are 12 episodes in that curriculum. They run about 30 minutes each in a DVD format, with a leader’s guide and the rest. We’re excited about it.
Dennis: You also talk about The GEN3 Promise of The GEN3 Connection for the future. Explain to our listeners how that fits into this curriculum and goes forward.
Jim: Well, you know, Dennis, here at FamilyLife, you have done such a great job with your marriage conferences.
You have been on the very point of the spear when it comes to the importance of marriage in the country. I thank you for that because, when you look at the silver bullet—what our culture needs—it’s for, particularly, Christian men and women to stay committed in their marriages.
So, for Focus on the Family, what we’re coming up with is something we call GEN3: “Let’s make a commitment, for three generations, that we will stay together. We will stay committed to our spouses. We’ll stay committed to our families.” We would like to see three generations of, literally, millions of people making that commitment—to say: “I will do it. I will not break the knot.”
Dennis: You have a couple of sons who—one has just become a teenager and the other one soon to be. How do you see them, ultimately, making this promise too? Are you going to guide them in that process? Is that how that happens?
Jim: Absolutely—How do I see it, now?—with great hope! [Laughter]
Dennis: Exactly. Well, there are a lot of listeners, though, who are right where you are. They’re going, “That sounds good to me; but how would I prepare my children, as they move toward this thing called marriage, to do the same?”
Jim: Well, I think the key right there is modeling it well. I mean, children watch you, as a father and a mother, to see how you’re doing it. If you want to really damage their opportunity to understand marriage and embrace it, just don’t do it well. They’ll watch it, and then they’ll repeat your mistakes.
So, the first thing we have to do is model it well for our children, and make sure that we’re doing the right things. Men, open the door for your wife. Let your children see you treat your wife with respect, and the same is true for the wives. Make sure your children—your daughter—sees how you interact with your husband.
I think the other thing that we’re missing is allowing ourselves to be human. I think, in the Christian community, we miss that—the fact that God knows our humanity. He knows our hearts. He knows our sin. Let’s teach our children to know that, and to relax in it, and then to seek God to be better.
I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to teach our kids.
Bob: You know, we had a guest on FamilyLife Today a number of years ago. They said something that I’ve never forgotten—it just stuck with me. It relates to what you’re just saying. They said, “Most parents are trying to teach their kids to be sin-avoiders and then sin-concealers.”
Bob: You avoid it, and if you do it, you don’t tell Mom and Dad that you did it. They said, “We want to teach our kids to be sin-confessors and sin-repenters.”
Bob: I thought: “That really is the picture. We need to teach our kids that there’s grace. Then, we need to teach our kids that God also wants to transform us and make us different than we are today rather than just trying to say: ‘Stay away. Stay away from…. If you mess up, don’t tell anybody; or they’ll find out and think you’re a bad person.”
Jim: And boy—does that set us up for failure. You look at men today—that’s the state of the church. We, in the church, as men—we’re very reclusive. We don’t talk to each other openly about where we’re at.
Sometimes, that’s dangerous.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have three or four guys that you could go to and say: “I am struggling—I need to put Safe Eyes® on my computer. Will you be my partner in that and let me show you what I’m doing every day?” We need that kind of accountability for each other in the Christian community because, folks, our marriages are no longer just ours. The world is watching! They want to see whether or not we believe what we say we believe is true.
Dennis: Jim, I couldn’t agree with you more—that the model of a husband and a wife needs to be where we begin in reclaiming families in our country. I think you are absolutely on target. I think we also need to move—in calling these couples who do begin to make their marriage work and work according to the Bible—to begin to reach out to their friends, their networks, their neighbors, their community, and make an impact where they live.
I think, today, the hope of the family can’t rest upon an organization like Focus on the Family / FamilyLife because there’s no way to build an organization big enough for the size of [the] problem that we have here in our country. Don’t you believe we have to equip laymen to make a difference where they live, as well?
Jim: Absolutely. I mean, if we could do that together, as a community of believers, I think the country will be far more better off. You see that in fathering, particularly. You look at prisons—85 percent of men in prison did not have a relationship with their dad. You want to take care of the prison over-population? We have to get dads engaged with their families.
Irreplaceable will have certainly a good section on that—there’s a whole section on fatherlessness. You’ll hear from prisoners talking specifically about that pain. I think it’s powerful. I think it’s probably the most powerful section of the documentary, where they’re talking about the lack of a father in their lives, and what they missed out on, and how the cultural forces took hold of them. They didn’t have anybody to talk to about it.
I think a lot of our teenagers are in that place today.
Dennis: And a lot of people don’t realize what a plague we have in our culture today of fathers who are either there but not engaged, or fathers who create children and, frankly, leave—
Dennis: —and they don’t fulfill any responsibility.
Jim: Yes; think about it. The US leads in that statistic. Forty percent of children born in this country are born without a dad in the home. That is horrible! We are reaping the whirlwind because of it.
Bob: I’m curious about a listener, who would think: “You know, we ought to go see the movie. I was thinking I’d invite a friend from work or somebody from the neighborhood; but I’m a little concerned that if I go and say, ‘Do you want to go see a documentary from Focus on the Family about families?’ that my neighbor’s going to say, ‘I don’t know that we want to get preached at.’” You know, they’re going to just suspect that that’s going to be the case.
How would you coach somebody to ask their next-door neighbor or a coworker to come with them to the movie?
Jim: Well, I think we’ve produced it in such a way that it’s an excellent opportunity to do that. It’s not going to preach at them. It’ll just talk about something bigger—a bigger picture—a bigger story going on that they can become part of so, when you talk about God’s design for family, it captivates you in that way.
You don’t have to be embarrassed about it. There’s nothing in the movie—in my opinion—that should cause you any concern. I think, most importantly, you walk out—when I watched the raw footage, and I saw it, I went, “Now I understand the why.” It’s not the how-to tips—how to improve your marriage—that’s not it. What it’s giving you is the—I’d say—the desire to want to honor God because of what you’re hearing in that film. It gives you the why you want to be a good husband, the why you want to be a good wife, mother, and father. It’s deeper than just the tips.
Bob: You think a 27-year-old is going to look at it and say, “I agree with that,” or are they going to find themselves debating what they see on the screen?
Jim: Oh, I think, you know, it’s hard to generalize. I think many will say, “I will agree with most of that.” There may be some edges of it that people go, “Oh, I don’t know,” but that’s the perfect place to start talking about it.
Jim: I’d say: “Bring your neighbor. Then go have coffee and a nice piece of apple pie or something,” but that’s just me. But you know, I think it’s a great way to begin dialogue. That’s the goal. The goal is—Dennis, I don’t know how you feel about this; but right now, in the culture, we just tend to get in corners and shout at each other. Why not talk with each other?
Jim: It would be far better. That’s what I see in Paul when he would go on his missionary journeys. Folks, we are back there. People do not know who the Lord is—and for us to get into the culture and say, “Here is what God says about family,”—not with condemnation, not with a club, but in a way that lifts you up if you follow it.
Dennis: Right. Yes; and standing firm on the truth, and not apologizing one bit for it. What about the dialogue that can be created with your sons? You have an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old. Would you take them to this movie?
Jim: I would. There’s nothing in there, really, that would be age-inappropriate. I think—especially, at the 11/12/13 level—I don’t know below that—that it would keep their interest—but I do think, at a 13-age level, it will definitely create some interest for them to talk to you. It gives you an opportunity to teach them.
That’s the great thing—why? We have to begin to equip our children, especially in the church, as to why marriage is good. You look, right now, at co-habitation in the 20-something decade. We have more people co-habiting now than getting married. So, they have to understand that—even in the Christian church—they have to understand why God wants us to follow it this way—why we need to wait until marriage.
Dennis: Well, let me tell you something—we applaud what you guys are doing at Focus on the Family; and especially, in the release of this film because I just think—Jim, I don’t think we, as a Christian community, are clear on our set of beliefs. I think we’re silent a lot of times when we need to be speaking up—in love, with grace, and with respect. I think this movie is going to create a healthy dialogue, not only within the Christian community, but also within the culture—that is desperately needed—one that points people back to the blueprints of Scripture because this Book begins with a marriage in Genesis, and it ends with a marriage in the book of Revelation.
Bob: Well, and let me just remind listeners—you have one shot to see this movie in theaters this week because it’s Tuesday night. It’s in movie theaters all across the country. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the theater where the film is going to be playing.
Just go to our website and click in the upper left-hand corner where it says, “Go Deeper.” There’s a link there that will give you theaters, and locations, and times for the movie, Irreplaceable—again, in theaters all across the country on Tuesday.
I tell you what would be a good assignment for folks after they’ve been to see the movie—first of all, take a group with you to go see the film this week. Then see if that same group wants to go through the video series we’ve put together called The Art of Marriage®. Over the course of the summer you can get together. Get the small group kit for The Art of Marriage. Take six nights this summer when you get together, and you watch a video, and you have a conversation about your marriage. That’d be great follow-up from your time in theaters this week.
Again, find out more about all of this when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the upper left-hand corner where it says, “Go Deeper.” You can find out about the movie, Irreplaceable, and about The Art of Marriage small group material at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We’ll try to answer any questions you might have.
You know, we are grateful for those of you who tune in regularly to listen to FamilyLife Today and those of you who tune in to listen to Focus on the Family, as well. Ministries like ours, both of FamilyLife Today and Focus on the Family—we depend on faithful listeners to help us pay the bills because the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program, along with the other outreaches and ministries we’re involved with—those costs are covered by people who believe in what we believe in—who think marriage and family matter.
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about moms and the unique challenges facing moms because there’s a special holiday coming up this Sunday—Mother’s Day; right? There’s a movie coming out this weekend called Moms’ Night Out. We’re going to talk a little bit about the movie, and we’re going to offer some encouragement to moms tomorrow. Tracey Eyster and Sherry Surratt are going to join us. Hope you can be here tomorrow, as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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