The Meaning of Family

DiAnn Mills @ DiAnnMills

Guest Blogger: Deborah Sprinkler @DebbieSprinkle

About two months ago, I asked a simple question: How do you define family? The answers proved to be complicated. One reply summed up the difficulty in finding a definition. She wrote, “We have the family we are born into, the family we chose, and the family we join.” Is one more important than the other? And how do you meld all three into one definition?

I tried—and failed. But I realized three things about families.

  1. Families are important whatever form they take. They are, as one person put it, “God’s basic building block of civilization.” Whether it’s two people or a group of people, being responsible to, and for, each other makes them a family. When my children reached the age where they were sure our rules were just put there to keep them from having any fun, I told each of them to remember they walked around with a piece of my heart inside them. Any risks they took would affect me too. Family members are responsible for each other and that responsibility is important in building a moral and just society.
  1. The only blood that’s important is the blood of Christ. With so many ways to define family, how can we possibly simplify it to genetics? The latest solid information for adoption in the U.S. is from seven years ago. In 2014, there were 110,373 adoptions; 41,023 were children related to the adopting family and 69,350 were not. But what about all the other “adoptions” that happen? Friends who become more like sisters or brothers than real siblings. Small groups celebrate holidays together. Congregations recognize birthdays from the pulpit. Families brought together by God through His plan for us in the shed blood of Jesus.
  1. Blood makes you related, but love makes you family. The Bible has a lot to say about love and how we should love each other. Here are just a few.

“Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 NLT

“I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.”   2 Corinthians 7:3 NIV

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT

Many of the replies to my simple question gave me a simple answer: family is unconditional love. What is unconditional love? Being tenderhearted, accepting, putting other’s needs above your own, ready to die for those people, and promising to love forever. As human beings, I’m not sure we’re capable of achieving unconditional love on our own. The Good News is we don’t have to.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NIV

Thank you, DiAnn Mills, a lovely lady who walks around with a piece of my heart, for allowing me to air my thoughts about family.

And thank you, her readers, for taking the time to read my article. I’d love to hear from you.


When Deborah Sprinkle retired from teaching chemistry, she wanted to do three things: attend women’s Bible study, join a book club, and write a mystery novel.

After collaborating with Kendra Armstrong on her non-fiction book entitled Exploring the Faith of America’s Presidents, Deborah turned her hand to fiction. It took many years of honing her craft before Deborah realized her dream. Deadly Guardian debuted in May, 2019, with Mantle Rock Publishers. Deborah’s second book in the series, Death of an Imposter, released November 24th, 2020. And the third is under contract for November of 2021. She continues to win awards for her short stories, articles, flash fiction, and novels.

Deborah lives in Memphis with her greatest fan, her husband of 49 years, and describes herself as an ordinary woman serving an extraordinary God.






Thank you, Debbie!