Does familiarity really breed contempt?

I don’t know if I can agree with the concept that familiarity breeds contempt. I mean, I get what they’re trying to say with the whole thing, but instead of highlighting the true root problem, they’re attacking the relational aspect of human character. And the bigger problem for me is that by attacking the relational aspect of human nature, they are essentially attacking the image of God created in us, in humans.

You see, familiarity breeds familiarity, not contempt. Unfulfilled expectation breeds contempt. And expectations are at the end of it all, self centred. This is the root problem. People don’t fall out of love because they spend too much time with each other, but because one of them expects, desires or demands more from the other person (see Philippians 2:3-4).

Indeed, in an environment of love, familiarity should be breed commonality, fulfilment and contentment. People should be so aware of what the other’s passions, dreams and desires are, that they are moving towards fulfilling it, therein then becoming one in mind with the other. They then become familiar (that is like minded or the same) with the other (see 2 Corinthians 13:11 & 1 Peter 3:8).

Marriage teaches us this very thing. Some people like Paul know it instinctively (by the grace of God). Others need marriage to teach them it. So too, when we give up our own expectations of God, we can become familiar in spirit with Him and therein attain the goals that He wishes to attain (Philippians 1:27).

If familiarity did indeed breed contempt, then eternity would be a very awful place; for how could we be expected to live for eternity with a familiar God if all it did was lead to a distaste of Him?

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

Scripture references:
Unless otherwise noted, all references are from the New King James Version

Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (4) Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

2 Corinthians 13:11 … Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;

Philippians 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,


About Darryl Schoeman

My Personal Life : challenge leads to thought and thought leads to change More than the Apostle Paul, I can say that I am the chief of sinners (really really really). But I love God and I love the Bible. So I try to live my life with the constant realisation that God is PERMANENTLY with me (yes even when I sin), and seek His presence in everything that I do (except when I sin) and in everything that happens. I share this with others so that they too can believe it and then seek to live it.

Posted on April 18, 2012, in Biblical Philosophy, Christianity, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Darryl, perhaps humanity made a doctrine out of one scripture?

    There are different types of neighbours….
    I quote
    Pro 25:17 Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee. 😉

    Kom nou, het jy nie ook al ‘n buurkind gehad wat dalk altyd opdaag, net wanneer tee tyd uitgedra word of die braaivleisvuurtjie rook nie? In daai geval verstaan ek die ‘doktrine’ van moennie te veel by jou buurman kuier nie, want ek het al mismoedig geraak as ek die dag nie genoeg koekies het om te deel nie!!!

    Gelukkig is my man goed vir my, en verduidelik, hy was so kind…lief om rond te loop en kuier….eintelik net op soek na ….liefde.
    So, verstaan mens ook die bure beter!

    • Haai Loli. Dankie vir die terugvoering. Jou voorbeeld slaat die spyker reg op die kop. I am not saying that I have never gotten upset with people that have passed their visiting time, but it highlights exactly my point: my expectation of them to go home is not being met by them. And so I get “upset” (contemptuous) with them.

      God is a Trinity with a relational aspect of familiarity with all three persons within that Trinity. If we were created in God’s image, then we carry this divine aspect of familiarity too.

      It is not the familiarity that is the problem, but the unfulfilled expectations.

      The flip side is that neither is the neighbour endeavouring to become familiar with your wants or needs. If they had, they would have left earlier as they would have been acting out of love towards you, and not for themselves.

      Always in Christ

  2. Long time no hear. I would agree with you Darryl. I think this is a contextual issue. Familiarity is often used in the context of family and not neighbor. While we tend to get on our families nerves at times, unfilled desires are what drive levels of contempt. Especially in the context of marriage.

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