The Brady Bunch Does Not Live Here
In-law problems were not the only problems Jacob encountered in marriage. Now he had not only one wife, but two—two sisters who brought their own baggage into the complicated relationship. No, this is not an episode of Sister-Wives, but the ancient day equivalent of a blended family.
The Pew Research Center reports that there are more blended families today than in any other time in history. Nearly half of young people ages 18 to 29 have a stepsibling. Cru Military believes the number of blended families in the military far exceeds the ratio in the general population. Blending a family is a challenge, and military life adds additional factors to that challenge. Cru’s Ron Deal says that the average stepfamily needs five to seven years to develop a family identity. Military families may see this timeframe extended due to the absence of a parent through deployment, training, or operations tempo. Deal suggests a new blended military family “step down” their expectations and be patient as they adjust to the new situation.
The configuration of a blended family varies as do the challenges. The old “Brady Bunch” scenario is not the norm for such families. Before the new family settles in together the common state of affairs includes power struggles, boundary testing, and guilt. In the case of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, the situation brought jealousy and drama. Rachel and Leah worked against each other in their effort to be the favored wife. Their competition for social standing through bearing children brought disgrace to Jacob and planted seeds of tribalism that would be evident through their children.
Yet, through all the deception, drama, competition, jealousy, and blame, God worked his plan. Theologian Walter Brueggemann describes the scene: “… two competitive sisters, a husband caught between them, and an exploitative father-in-law are not the most likely data for narratives of faith.” Indeed. Yet God did use these fallen and fallible people. God blessed this blended family with twelve sons through whom God fulfilled his promise to Abraham to establish a great nation from his heirs.