Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Problem

Our problem is that we have made the family (or marriage) into a more holy and fundamental sphere of life than the church, but the New Testament sees things very differently. Very differently.

I don't like that that might be a problem, but is it?


  1. Is that a quote from somewhere? Are you asking is it a problem if the family is made into a more holy and fundamental sphere of life than the church? Or are you saying it is a problem and asking is it prevalent?

    If it's the first I would say my gut says yes it is but I haven't thought it out well enough to say why. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    If it's the second I would say yes we do make the family into a more holy sphere of life than the church. How many times have you heard of missionaries leaving the field because their kids weren't happy? Or feeling called to something but feeling it unfair to make their children suffer the consequences of their decision? I definitely have sympathy for that position but is it right? Or take for example my family - there was a time when Christmas dinner at our house involved any one in the church or connected to the church who didn't have anywhere to go, in fact there was a year I remember there being a guy who was seeking asylum in Ireland, a a man who struggled with alcoholism, a neighbour who had recently been accused of paedophilia, an uncle and the six of us. And then as we got older we (the kids) decided we wanted proper family time and our parents felt that they couldn't inflict their decisions on us (and I think we're the worse for it). That surely is an example of the family taking precedence over the church.

    The safety, security and happiness of our families is a massive value in today's society - you only have to watch TV ads to see that. It's probably not a bad value in and of itself, but when it seeps into the church and becomes more important than us "being" the church then I think it is a problem.

    I do realise it's a lot easier to say this not being married or a parent, and also as I said I haven't fully thought it through.

    That's it. Rant over.

  2. No, it is certainly not a problem. God created the family before he created the church. God in the house, Glory in the church. The family comes first.The Church, in essence, should be an extension of the families in the church. It is not possible to overestimate the importance of family. Paul in his anointed prayer in Ephesians for the church, says, "I am bow my knees before Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name". Without the family there would be no church. That question should be reversed, "is it possible to overstate the importance of the church, to detriment of the family?". The answer is definetly, yes.It is the family that keeps us grounded.It is in a Family that we should experience unconditional love. It is also worth noting, that Jesus was born into a family. He was not born into a Church. For 30 yrs Jesus grew in favour with man and God, within a family.He performed His first Miracle in the context of a "family" wedding. I thank God for familes. God sets the lonely in familes. Remember God is the One, who said, "It is not good that man should be alone". He created a family. Well that is my rant. I am definetly Pro Family.

  3. I agree with almost everything you say, Anonymous. And if it wasn't for that pesky New Testament we'd get away with it. Even your very first statement -- "God created the family before he created the church" -- is brought into question by the NT. I'm not a Calvinist -- or at least I pretend not to be -- but the very beginning of Ephesians is detrimental to your argument: "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes."

    As for Jesus, he's probably the last person you want to bring into a discussion like this. He has a very peculiar notion about who his mother and brother and sister is, and it is not a notion that sits easily what you've written.

    You seem to have set this up as "pro family" vs "anti family", but that's not even close to what I'm trying to get at.

    Cathy - the "quote" is actually my own, but with people like Yoder and Hauerwas nestled below its surface. I'm just not sure I agree with it. I remember NT Wright saying that something like 20% of what he says is wrong, but he doesn't know which 20%. You can at least treble that figure for me, hence my doubt. But your rant has helped a lot, so thank you.

  4. I was just coming back to quote some Hauerwas (also some Jesus but I see you got there before me on that one Dec).

    In response to his response to September 11, Stanley was asked if he "disdained all 'natural loyalties'".

    "I responded by acknowledging that I do disdain all natural loyalties...I also suggested that he too must recognize some limit to "natural loyalty", else why would he and Carol have had their children baptized. I assume that the light of baptism reconfigures the "natural love" between parents and children. After all, we and our children are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. At the very least, this means that we might have to watch our children suffer for our convictions."

    Along with clarifying my thoughts, this paragraph has also probably moved me one more step along the path to my imminent conversion to paedo-baptism. Someone please save me before Kevin Hargaden's dream becomes a reality!

    Anonymous I don't like that by your assertion that you are pro-family you make me out to be anti-family. I don't even know what that might mean but I am definitely not it. I also thank God for families. I love family. It was through my biological family that I think I came to understand what "church" is supposed to be about. Or at least I think it gives me a vision for what church can/should be.

    Dec I definitely sympathise with your 60%. I realise I probably come across a lot more sure of myself than I am. I haven't thought my argument out to its conclusion - I don't know that I would like or agree with it.

  5. I take that last sentence back - I think I would still agree with the argument but I might not like it. That, however, does not mean that I am not open to being proven wrong.