If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since apolicy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South. A House Divided
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
What Do Jesus and Abraham Lincoln Have in Common?
They’re both vampire hunters, obviously. Oh wait, no. They both wear top hats. Shoot—not that, either. It was on June 16, 1858 that Abraham Lincoln delivered his now famous “House Divided” speech while he was running for a seat in the Senate. Against the advice of a political ally he stated very clearly, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” Lincoln lost the election. But he knew his position would be a hard sell to his contemporaries. So he purposely reached for language that already had some authority: the Bible. Jesus himself says, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house” (11:17). And Jesus, too, knew it was a hard sell. In Context
Of course, Luke can’t take all of the credit, since Matthew and Mark record the words, too. In all three gospels, the house divided principle is part of Jesus’s defense speech against people who say that he exorcizes demons by the power of Beelzebul, one of the higher-ups of the demonic orders. Jesus points out their failure of logic: a kingdom or house at loggerheads with itself cannot stand. So if the demonic order is at war with itself it too will fall. The assumption is that this is an unlikely scenario. While he may have been well aware of this context, Lincoln lifts the key principle out and brilliantly re-applies it in his analysis of the mounting crisis in pre-Civil War America. Read all of Lincoln’s speech and all of Jesus’s (Luke 11:17-26 ) and tell us: who said it better?
No one can work with tools that are broken. It is a simple fact of life, if the tools used in life are not whole, then whatever is endeavored will not work. This can be said of anything, be it tools, people, relationships, mere objects; nothing broken can work. The aphorism, “A house divided cannot stand,” encapsulates this concept. The phrase itself can be heard in both the Bible’s New Testament, in reference to an individual divided against oneself, and in the speech A House Divided by Abraham Lincoln. Despite the age of the aphorism, the meaning of the phrase transcends its time and holds true even now. If the house, a place that provides shelter and protection, is divided, then it will be unable to stand as its foundation has been cracked. Throughout history we see the concept of an institution divided crumbling. Sometimes, it hits much closer to home then some obscure, surreal form of politics.
A mother and father who have grown apart, their love strained and no longer is enough a common occurrence in today’s society. The home that they have created will start to shatter, all because the foundation of their love has cracked. Tragic as this is its not nearly as heartbreaking as the child left neglected as the parents tear each other apart from the inside out, wreaking the home life forever. The child’s home, their place of protection is gone, all because two parts of the whole were divided. In the time of Civil War, Abraham Lincoln used this phrase in one of his most famous of speeches, “A House Divided”. In this speech he underscored the importance of setting aside the enmity each political party had for each other in order to address the greater problem of keeping the country whole. With factions so unwilling to communicate with each other, all because of differing tenants of belief, the democratic government so hardly fought for showed signs of disintegrating due to the great rift in congress. Each party is so desperate to win, utterly determined and…
It means a family (represented by a house) cannot be stable and strong to itself when divided. Here, the division refers to the various mentalities and perceptions of the different members of the family. If they all think alike, they will all be united forever and no one could do anything to break it. However, if they keep fighting and disagreeing with each other all the time, the family will eventually break.
Another sister phrase to the above saying is: A house that prays together, stays together.