Just another Rainbow Christian's Blog

The Biblical Family

Genesis 28:35
“But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted . . .”

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

Every now and then someone claims that there’s something called “the biblical family.” It seems to consist of a father and mother and two kids, all four brave, clean and reverent.

But when I read the Bible, I mostly run into families that aren’t so orderly or predictable, and sometimes not even all that virtuous. In fact, many of the biblical families are kind of a mess.

Take this family, Jacob and his wife, Rachel, and Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban. Jacob, who has been down on Laban’s farm for far too long, wants to take his wives, Leah and Rachel, and go home. He tells Daddy Laban that fair wages for time served will be the speckled and spotted members of the flock. Laban says, “Sounds good. Deal.”

But the very next thing you know Daddy Laban goes behind Jacob’s back to cut all the speckled and spotted sheep out of the herd, which would have left Jacob a shepherd without sheep (or even goats). Not to be outdone, Jacob cooks up a breeding scheme that guarantees a bumper crop of speckled, striped and spotted kids and assures his fortunes. Jacob out-foxes his father-in-law.

These are my spiritual ancestors? This is a biblical family? This clever and conniving lot? Far from being pure, predictable and perfect, the biblical family looks pretty darn speckled, striped and spotted itself.

And the good news? That God can take speckled human beings and spotted sinners, like you and me, and make of us bearers of holy hope and divine promise. That from such raw material God can make a forgiven family who will be a blessing to all earth’s families.

Being “a biblical family” doesn’t mean being perfect. It means that speckled and spotted, imperfect and sinful as we are, we are perfectly loved by this odd and insistent God.

For your capacity to take us imperfect human beings and make us instruments of your perfect love and grace, I thank and praise you, O God. Amen.

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Stewardship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com/ by clicking on Weekly Reading.


Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; [the Lord] upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– Psalm 146:7-9


“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”

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