The Hatfield and McCoy Family Feud
This week the History Channel premiered the mini-series “Hatfields and McCoys.” This true American tale is of the decades-long feud between two families in post-Civil War Kentucky and West Virginia. This feud lasted over 50 decades, nearly bringing war between two states and most definitely bringing about violence, murder, strife, hatred, vengeance, and grudges among two families for generations.
In 1887, the media sensationalized the story about the “backwoods hillbillies,” and the local story became American legend. The feud faded when the patriarchs of the family died, Randolph McCoy in 1914 and William Anderson Hatfield in 1921. In 2002 a symbolic peace treaty was signed by descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families—138 years after the feud began.
Most people are familiar with the names of these two families who are infamous and legendary—but for all the wrong reasons.
All families fight and argue; most may even hold grudges. Feuds come and go. But how do two families span decades and generations producing such vehemence?
Keep your family from being like
the Hatfields and McCoys:
1. Do not sin in your anger: “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).
The feuding families not only got angry, they did sin “big time” in their anger, killing and destroying one another. The Bible does not say “do not be angry.” Anger is an emotion; how you deal with it is what is important. When you are angry, do not sin.
2. Forgive: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
Forgive one another … immediately … now … before tomorrow … before the sun even sets! The feud between the Hatfields and McCoy started over … are you ready for it? A PIG! Yes, I’m serious. Imagine if they had forgiven one another and moved on. Generations could have lived happily ever after … or at least lived. With no murder, strife, and vengeance. As I watched the mini-series, I felt the urge to scream, “GET OVER IT!” Sometimes, in His gentle, loving way, I think God wants to tell us to get over it, too.
3. Don’t let Satan in: “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27).
Oh, how Satan loves families to be destroyed! He celebrates! Throws a party! The devil loves death, destruction, murder, hatred—everything the Hatfields and McCoys carried on for decades. And what Satan loves even more is when families carry on their sin and strife for generations. It’s called “generational sin.” But you can break it by never letting the devil get a foothold in your life or in your family.
4. Encourage one another: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
When you are angry, it’s so easy to yell, scream, and put down other people. You are mad. M-A-D. And you want that other person to know it and to know why he is so wrong and you are soooo right. That’s why this verse is soooo hard to do. Nothing (nada, zilch, zero) unwholesome should come out of our mouths. That is sinful and it gives the devil a foothold (see #1 and #3). And you’ll have a lot more to ask forgiveness for (see #2). So be nice. Just be nice!
5. Remember the Holy Spirit is IN you: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
If you are a believer, you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You are God’s holy temple. When you act like a Hatfield or McCoy, do you suppose God is happy? Do you suppose God is hurt by the very person He is living in? When you are having an H&M moment (Hatfield & McCoy), pause, take a breath, and ask the Holy Spirit to overtake you. You are meant for more—in fact, this verse says you are sealed by God! (So act like it!)
6. Take out the trash: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
Get rid of the junk—ALL of it. This verse pretty much sums up the H&M families: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice. Yep, sure does. And remember what started all of that? A piggy. That’s it. So no matter how big or teeny-tiny the issue (or pig) is, get over it (see #2) and get rid of it. Every little bit—don’t leave anything behind that can pile up into bitterness and all the rest. Let it all go.
7. Imitate Jesus: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
So we can’t be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to our enemies? (Or even our families?) Nope, of course not; we’re sinful humans. But we can do all things through Christ! Remember, His Holy Spirit lives IN us (see #5). Jesus is our ultimate example—He was kind, compassionate, and forgiving. Even to His enemies. Even to those who beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. Hopefully, our families are not quite that bothersome. Either way, Jesus is our example and can help us do anything.
What do you want your family’s legacy to be? The legacy of the Hatfield and McCoy families was killing each other. What legacy do you want to pass down through your family? Build your family foundation upon the principles of Ephesians 4 and leave a legacy of love, peace, and forgiveness.
© Christi McGuire, 2012