Jesus and the Radical Fam

Caryn: So this is my attempt to see if we can’t keep the Cult of the Family discussion going—in a fresher, more encouraging and positive way. I am almost loathe to do it, because frankly I’m EXHAUSTED by some of the comments at the original COTF, but it’s such an important topic, I think maybe we can give it a go.

Besides, I didn’t really get a fair shake at “rebuttal” last time since Carla took advantage of my retreat-ed-ness. (We all need to watch our backs when it comes to Carla. She’s a sneaky one.)

But I while I was retreating I heard a couple things that are pertinent to the Cult of the Family discussion. First was this: “The tears of a stranger are just water.” Apparently, it’s an Indian (from India—my generation, at least, didn’t grow up PC enough to automatically assume this) proverb.

When I heard this, I kind of recoiled in horror. It sounds shockingly mean and callous, doesn’t it? But it’s not really meant to be. The intent is to fortify the family. To instruct children and remind adults about whom their love and care and concern should be focused on. It’s essentially a “family first” sort of thing.

And then in another conversation, this interesting bit came up: According to the sort of athiest biologist set, the reason a mother (or father, I suppose) would be inclined to rush into a burning house to save her children has nothing really to do with love or devotion or any sort of morality issues. It’s all about DNA—specifically, to keep her DNA going on this earth. So this essentially implies that a mother’s love and instinct to protect is “survival of the fittest”-driven as opposed to God-given.

These two things threw me for a loop, because essentially both these little tidbits totally contribute to the Cult of the Family, right? And yet—I’m just guessing here—but it seems to me that an old Indian proverb doesn’t come out of “The Church.” Neither, obviously, would an athiest’s view of maternal instinct be attributed to the church (at least not directly). 

So it dawned on me, that the whole Cult of the Family might not stem from the church at all—but stem directly from human nature. I mean, OF COURSE, I love my kids more than yours. OF COURSE, I worry more about my child’s safety than yours. OF COURSE, I’m going to feel worse when my kid is sick or hurt or sad than when yours is. I can’t imagine life without my kids. I can without yours. It’s my human nature. Or maybe even just nature—those mama bears seem to feel this same way.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I started thinking about Jesus—our Main Revolutionary—and about how he was the one who called us to shift our focus from the internal family (all that hating your mother and brother stuff….) onto the external world. He’s the reason why something like “the tears of a stranger are just water” sounds so icky, so off.

Of course, he’s the one whose Father sent him into this world as a sacrifice, to offer us that grace I’m so crazy about, and to have us share that grace with all nations, not just our little fams.

But of course, there’s still the tension: My human nature makes me want to put my kids above everything (I’m not dissing a mother’s intuition here or any of the nature thing: it rightfully makes me want to love, protect, nurture, care, praise, discipline, and hug them like crazy!). But Jesus calls for the radical—he calls for a transformed nature, one that almost always run counter to what the world and our fallen nature tells us.

My point? The church and it’s Cult of the Family really mimicks the world’s view (some called this worldiness in the first round of comments) and doesn’t mimick Jesus.

It’s by following the world in their focus on the family that we make it a cult and that we end up hurting all these other people who don’t fit. The very ones we were meant to reach.

I’m not saying I think Jesus wants us to ditch the fam or stop listening to our God-given instincts (quite the contrary) but he DOES want us to be counter-cultural, radical families, to be Revolutionary Mommies and take a gander at the outside world every now and then.

Okay, I’m pretty sure now that I JUST reiterated exactly what Carla has been saying these last two posts. Sorry about that. Can we just love and support each other a bit now?

 

Carla: Hmmm. I’m thinking about this. Here’s something I know for sure–the model we have of motherhood, the one so many of us find to be an uncomfortable fit–absolutely came to us from outside of the church. It came from Richard Nixon.

I can’t tell you how much I love this story. It turns out that during the Cold War, Nixon put together this little propaganda movie about America that included a tour of a “typical American home.” The glories of capitalism were symbolized by the washer and dryer–right there in the house!!!–and the fact that in a capitalist society, there was enough money to be made that only one of the adults in the house had to work! See how great America is? See how good capitalism is? See?!?!?!?!?

The stay-at-home mom of the 50s? Political propaganda. 

If you think about how women lived for the vast majority of human history–and how most women in the world live now–it’s pretty clear that all of the family focus we struggle with was a luxury they couldn’t afford. Women worked in the fields with their children strapped to their backs. They woke up before dawn to make food and gather firewood and start their 15-plus-hour work day. If the kids got a little attention in there, great. But the bottom line was survival, not quality family time.

And actually, I think you bring up something else about motherhood that’s relevant here. At least I’m making it relevant. Women–healthy, reasonably functional women–don’t need someone to tell them that their children are precious. We don’t need to be told to take parenting seriously. We don’t need to be reminded of what our job is as mothers. We know. With every cell of our bodies and acre of real estate in our hearts, we know. And whether the instinct to care for our children is because of love or because of the need to keep our gene pool on the planet, we don’t need books and sermons and huge ministry organizations to tell us that we should love our children and make sacrifices for them.

What we need is Christian communities–and I feel like we’re creating one here!– that help us figure out how to live as God’s people in the midst of parenting, in the midst of not parenting, in the midst of disappointment and dashed hopes, in the midst of joy, and in the midst of despair. That’s what we need from our churches and each other.

Caryn: So you’re saying we can blame Darwin, Nixon, and the Church for our problems? That’s a mix you don’t get every day! Okay, so maybe just a bit more of the blame thing—give ourselves a good squeeze—and then maybe we can get back to some positive ways we can take charge and turn this sucker around.

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27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carla on January 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I know you’re kidding, but I think it’s less about laying blame and more about dismantling myths. They hold so much power over us, but when we figure out where they come from, suddenly they aren’t so potent. So I think of this part of the revolution as a launching point, not a sticking place.

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  2. I am really enjoying your blog. I don’t have children of my own yet, but I am deeply invested in helping to develop safe and healthy families. I work in an organization dedicated to supporting families, and one of the biggest challenges we face is called “The Family Bubble,” which is very similar to what you’ve been describing in these posts. The problem with the idea of the Cult of the Family or the Family Bubble is that it perpetuates the idea that families should take care of their own…at the expense of asking for help when they really need it. The idea is that family should be self-contained; sort of like “what happens at home stays at home,” which is a dangerous mentality. I really believe the first place this needs to change is in the church. If a family can’t turn to their community of faith for help, where can they go? We should all, as members of faith communities and social communities, be involved in the pleasures of bringing up healthy children in our world. Now that’s pretty radical! 🙂

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  3. Posted by Not a mom on January 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Yes!!!!!

    I am loving this. Want to talk about myths? Add another CRAZY example to your “blame” list? Add “The Fonz” and “Sha Na Na” to Nixon, Darwin and the Church.

    This article is called: Sha Na Na and the Invention of the Fifties.

    http://www.college.columbia.edu/cct/sep_oct08/features1

    Check out the link if you have a little bit of time. It might seem like a leap. But as soon as I saw Carla’s post I thought of this article. It’s a little academic, but it looks at the power of pop culture and the media to reframe history.

    It’s a much sillier example, but it’s a reminder that we might be preaching a nostalgia for a time that never existed at all.

    And yes Carla, you can boot me off the blog for getting back Happy Days and Sha Na Na music stuck in everyone’s head if you want. Especially after such a beautiful thought-provoking post.

    Any sign of a Nixon video on youtube, or elsewhere?

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  4. Posted by Not a mom on January 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    ack.

    that was supposed to say “bad” music, not back.

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  5. I’m liking the Family Bubble image. It’s a bit less frightening to people (because it sounds happy and safe) than talk of Cults. ; )

    And, yes, I think we’re often nostagic for times that didn’t exist. I once read that it was 1950s housewives who are “to blame” for popularizing meth in this country. Happy Days, indeed…..

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  6. Here is the thought that comes into my tired and less-than-functioning brain after a long day and with the influence of some post-children’s bedtime-wine…some element of our family-centeredness stems from our being made in God’s image–think of how much He loves his children; think of the picture of the father in the Prodigal Son story, how much he gives to this petulant boy, how happy he is to have his son back. And some element of our family-centeredness may be cultural, probably even more so for those of us who grew up or who live in cultural contexts where the family is always elevated over the individual. I’m not so bothered by the idea that we as mothers often sacrifice ourselves for our families; after all, the idea of sacrifice is required from us all; we are called to die to self and live for Christ and lay down our lives for others. So there is a large part of me that feels as though my life as a mother must of course be marked by sacrificial love for my kids, my husband, my parents/in-laws, etc. The danger seems to come when we get our priorities out of order, when we elevate serving our own personal families over serving God and whatever His call might be for our lives. In some moments of our lives, He might be calling us to lay down our personal desires and dreams, to sacrifice those for our families. In other moments, he might be calling us to sacrifice our desires to serve our families in order to follow Him and do something completely non-family oriented. I guess I don’t know that there is any hard and fast rule, except that Christ must be at the center of the decisions we make, with the result that the specifics of our lives may appear quite different for each of us.

    Related to the Family Bubble idea…I think one of the problems in our culture today is that so many of us live such disconnected lives. On one hand, we spend time around people and pseudo-connected in actual and virtual ways, but not in ways that truly help us build sufficient support networks to help us with this crazy journey called parenthood. It DOES take a village, but most of us lack a true village to help us with the journey. Those of us fortunate to live close to extended family do better with this, I imagine, but in a culture that encourages people to grow up, go away from home and build lives wherever their jobs might take them–that results in a fragmented extended families and much more work on the part of individual family units to build their own replacement social networks, which can be challenging and draining to begin with, and even more so if you have young children.

    Add to that the commuter/suburban culture that typically is the context in which most of us live, and it’s even harder to build those social networks. Your close church friends might live 30 minutes away, and that makes it difficult to develop the kind of honest, open relationships that would help us be much less Bubble-like in our thinking. So many of us don’t ever get beyond relationships that are superficial, we don’t really have a chance to “do life” in any meaningful way with others….hence the Bubbles. (I’m sorry if I’m totally using the Bubble metaphor in the wrong way!)

    I’m completely making suppositions here, so I may be way off. But our family is a perfect example of being fragmented; my parents are retired and moved to S. California; my brother and his family live in D.C.; my brother-in-law and his family are in San Francisco; my in-laws are in Toronto. I go to a church that is 30 minutes away, and even though there are other families from my church who live in the same town, I rarely see them during the week; they all have young children, too, and we’re all “too busy.” But that just means that we’re all living our self-absorbed lives, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way; it’s just the nature of life with young kids, they are time-consuming and draining and if you don’t have a more extensive support network that arises from either family or an unusually close and connected church community, then it will be hard to ever really get to the point of living outside that Bubble unless you are really intentional about it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m unsure if the Bubbles arise because people are buying into the Cult of the Family. I think it’s just as if not more likely that the Bubbles emerge due to our living in such a fragmented, disconnected way. In order to survive, we have to retreat into our own little havens. To live otherwise would require much more work and time than most of us are able to give.

    This all makes me think of life after college, and how many friends I knew lived in intentional community with one another, but as people got married, had kids, and started going their own separate ways, that lifestyle disappeared. Maybe we need to get back to a radical way of living, especially in lieu of the lack of strong extended familial bonds. Get back to the early church way of living, where people lived in close community, shared their possessions, and I bet helped one another in daily, constant ways raise each other’s children. No Bubble there, just a deeply rooted and shared commitment to spreading the Gospel and to living as a community of love. That sounds quite tantalizing, I must say.

    I need to stop rambling now..I’m not even quite sure of what I am trying to say so forgive me if there is little coherent here! Thanks for continually raising great questions, Caryn and Carla. You rock. =)

    ~~~~~~~~
    Helen Lee
    helenleemail@gmail.com
    630-605-7652, cell
    http://momhelen.blogspot.com

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  7. I’m hesitant to comment because part of me feels like I have to have it all figured out before I enter this conversation. But, we all know none of us will ever have it all figured outs, so here goes. Here are some initial thoughts…

    I agree that we shouldn’t get bogged down in the “why are we here?” questions to the extent that we get distracted with chasing down an answer that isn’t cut and dry. Is there really one reason/event in time/person that gave us this image of the perfect housewife who really believes her primary goal & main calling is raising her children? Google “kitchen debate.” I think this is the Nixon tour of homes event that has been referenced. It was during a time in our history when Americans were scared to death of communism. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing to be scared of. Whatever Nixon was appealing to in the hearts and minds of Americans in that day was probably something that already existed. I am fascinated by the emergence of the SAHM as the ultimate goal in middle/upper-middle class Christian American culture, and I will continue to read about it all and try to understand where we have come from and why we are here. But I believe that the root of all sin is pride, unbelief, and selfishness. I think all three are at play here. There are plenty of Christians who don’t fit the “typical fifties housewife” mold who are perpetuating this thing. There are also plenty of non-Christians who are perpetuating it, as well. There are very well-meaning, decent people who are just completely wrapped up in their own families, their own children, their own children’s education, their own spiritual growth, their own parenting problems, their own finances, their own stuff, their own dress size, etc. I feel like I can talk about it and call it what it is because I’ve been there. I’m trying to come out of this mentality, but what does it look like? The answer isn’t to not care about these things. I agree that the answer is Jesus. The truths of the gospel have brought me to my neighborhood and my church where I live in a real community with people who are committed to caring for each other. It’s really a beautiful thing we have going here–it’s exactly what Helen is talking about above. I need to trust God and believe that the truths of the Gospel will continue to carry me. What is God calling me to do with regards to loving Him and loving my neighbors? Who are my neighbors? What about the call to spread the Gospel? Unfortunately, the most common answer I’ve received from the church–from the church communities I’ve been in since I became a Christian 13 years ago, from many of the books I’ve read, the Bible studies I’ve attended, and blogs I lurk on–is to be a wife and mom. I’m thankfully in a church now that hasn’t fallen into this as much as other churches I’ve been in have. But it is on the verge of heading in this same direction because it is full of women who are lonely, fearful, exhausted, and completely self-consumed. And they think the answers to their problems are to follow the path laid out for them from the typical evangelical church. The path that the women drawn to this blog are running from. We need Jesus to change our hearts. We need to repent of our unbelief, our pride, and our selfishness. We need to be bold enough to call each other on our sin. When I’m in the TENTH conversation in the same number of months with the same person about how to give our children the best education possible (because it’s all about our kids, their success, and their potential income, isn’t it? oh-and them turning out “ok” because we want to look like we are good parents and completely not in need of the gospel.), we need to have the strength and boldness and love to say, “Stop. What are we doing?” Yes, we can discuss where we should send our kids to school, but could a few of those conversations (or even one?) be about the education of kids in our neighborhood who have no choice but to attend a school where they are receiving a poor education and what God might be calling His people to do about it? And could one of those conversations be about why we feel so much pressure in this area? What are we afraid of here? How are we not trusting God and not believing the gospel in this area? We have to be in community to get to that point. We also have to be in meaningful relationships with others so there is room to speak up in this way. I feel like God is giving me that boldness, strength, and love. It is scary though. I know that if I start speaking up and asking questions there will be people who twist my intentions, who jump to conclusions, who act respond out of fear. Which is why I need you guys to keep encouraging me and to keep speaking the truth to me. For me, it keeps coming back to Jesus. He either existed or He didn’t. I personally believe He lived, He died, and He rose. If all of this is true, then I can’t ignore the word of God and I can’t ignore the truths of the gospel. I somehow have to believe He is who He says He is, attempt to do what He is calling me to do, and trust Him with consequences.

    OK. That’s all for now. Happy Saturday, everyone.

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  8. OK, the morning after, a little slightly clearer head…just felt the need to clarify that I’m not saying that the Cult of the Family doesn’t exist…I do think it does, and for a variety of reasons (Nixon, perhaps–I do love that story, Carla!)…but perhaps we perpetuate the overemphasis on our families with how we live our lives today.

    Our church, which is a largely second-generation, highly professional, Asian American congregation, recently moved to Villa Park, IL. The demographics of Villa Park are pretty different from our congregation (ethnicially and socioeconomically, in particular). And as we’ve been thinking about how to serve this particular community, a few of us have been throwing out some “what ifs”?–what if a sizeable number of us decided to commit to this particular neighborhood, to live together or in very close proximity in community, to support one another in much more tangible ways than we are doing now, and to hopefully be a beacon of light and love to those we meet in the neighborhood? It all sounds quite radical! It’s one thing to do something like this as a group of young recent college grads, but it’s very hard to get to the place where we as families with young children are all ready to do it. Time will tell if we will be able to take that risk together. But I suspect that if we do, “Cult-of-Family” issues will begin to fall by the wayside as we instead focus on efforts on living missionally together. Ah, but that sounds like a topic for another post. =)

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  9. Charlotte–I posted before I had a chance to read your entry…please share more about your church/community experience! And do you feel that living that way helps to combat this whole Cult of the Family thing we’re talking about? I would love to hear more! =)

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  10. Posted by April G. on January 31, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I am really enjoying this discussion. It is interesting to see a variety of sides and colors to this challenge.

    So, I would like to share my particular situation. I know I am not alone in this, but I think it is a little beyond the norm. I would LOVE to live in more of a community, and I believe my church is certainly more of a community than most. That is probably the main reason I chose it. That, and the feeling that it was okay to be a family there. What? Haven’t we been talking about churches placing an over-emphasis on family? Yes, but I think part of the problem with the over-emphasis is the emphasis on a particular type of family. It is the family with perfectly groomed, well-mannered children who never cry in the service, and if they do they are quickly ushered out. There are two parents of the same cultural background with no marital, mental, or family problems. One reason I felt comfortable in my church is that, though we may look it on the outside, my husband and I both know we are very far from perfect. And, our children cry. Which brings me to our particular predicament (say that 10 times fast). Our son is a handful. He is cute, flirty, and very social. He is also loud, energetic, and has a tendency to break things. He throws a fit if he is not allowed to play the drums during the service. He escapes to the loft and pushes the candles off the ledge. He wants to run around and explore. And, if he doesn’t get his way he will scream and throw a fit. Now, those of you who are thinking I should just learn to control my child – I have a compliant child too, and that is whole different ballgame. Even parents of toddlers sometimes look at me in sympathy when my son has been screaming for several minutes straight while I drag him kicking and screaming to the van. As much as I would love to get together for Wednesday-night dinners, I am more afraid of what my son might break in their houses. It can be so stressful to take him somewhere not built for children, that we often just stay home. This adds to the “family bubble.” And, also speaks to the expectations we have as a culture of families. Screaming children are not welcomed most places, and their parents are looked at like they can’t control their children. Now, he is almost three, and I am hoping with my whole being that this will get easier. In the mean time, I am struggling with the expectations from our culture and that I have of myself, my son, and what families should look like.

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  11. I seriously think we have some of the smartest people in the world posting on this blog. Amazing.

    One thing I can’t get out of my head, though–something I think we’ve missed—is when family is community and when they serve as the supports that allow us to live our gifts and serve our community.

    I’m thinking mostly of my husband’s family here. They’re Cuban—and very family focused. However, like most Latin cultures (and Asian and others—and now I’m thinking the Indian proverb I quoted in the original post…), this focus doesn’t have so much to do with making a idol out of family.

    The way I’ve seen it lived out, in fact, is about coming together so that individuals can do what they’re best at, do what they’re created to do. One way I’ve seen this ideal of family play out is by helping raise children so someone could finish an education, go to work, or do what they feel called to do—for the long or short term.

    My in-laws are always asking how they can babysit so I can write or work or so my husband and I can go out or get away. While they do this out of a sort of “family is everything” mentality, it really is a beautiful of expression of family—serving one another out of love and potentially helping another serve God too.

    Am I making any sense here?

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  12. P.S. Charlotte: I love your point about Nixon trying to fight communism. And that there had to have been some truth to make it believable. Communism is just about the worst thing for moms, dads, kids, and anybody’s calling out there. And they’re not free to blog about it! Great other points too!

    April: I know it’s not funny to you, but I did laugh at your son knocking candles off the balcony. Only because it’s something one of my kids would do. I can’t go to Wednesday night dinners either right now—it’s too stressful. While some people may say you need to “get control” of your kids, I also know that some kids are harder to “control” than others. I think God’s just happy you’re bringing yours to church (and probably smiling at the candle thing too). He can handle the chaos. Thanks for sharing that!

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  13. I’m new here but loving your blog!

    I definitely think an emphasis on “family” so narrowly defined can blind us to all the other ways and people we are called to love and so can become a cult/idol/bubble. “God sets the lonely in families”–his community of the Spirit is for all, not just those with 2.5 kids and a house in the ‘burbs. The Body of Christ is the Church, not the American nuclear family.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking discussion!

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  14. Posted by Carla on January 31, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I think a lot of what we’re talking about here goes back to a wonderful insight April had a few posts ago. She talked about balance–not in our individual lives but in our collective life. And that’s really what I think so many of you are saying. We have to be willing to break that bubble not only for our own sake, but for the sake of other families, other people, other communities.
    For me, one of the great mysteries of the cult of the family is that it doesn’t really have a point. If you carry out that ideology to its logical conclusion, it really only serves as a self-perpetuating model of itself. If we say that a woman’s primary focus should be to raise children, then is that the primary task of her female children as well? Are we just to raise one gender to go out into the world while we raise the other to support them? That just doesn’t seem like the call of the gospel to me.

    Anyway, I love this conversation and I love how all of you are helping us push beyond our “revolutionary bubble” to consider the bigger questions of what it means to be the people of God.

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  15. Posted by Robyn on January 31, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    IOne of the reasons I love this blog so much is that I get to see my own thoughts articulated… right there on the screen! It’s sort of disorienting sometimes. LOL!

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  16. Helen-I wrote some more about my community. Here’s a link. It’s kind of long. I’m wordy & passionate these days.

    http://gladdentheheart.blogspot.com/2009/02/my-local-body.html

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  17. Posted by Robyn on February 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I was thinking about this idea of “myths” last night. I’ve read a lot about them, and it is somewhat relieving to know that they are media/cultural constructs rather than ideals that we must somehow live up to.

    And I was thinking about how, when a family’s survival depended on the work they did to feed and clothe themselves, everything centered around the homestead. There was no man who left h0me to go earn an income while the woman stayed home to play with the children. Everyone worked. In order to live. Even for those who practiced a trade, it was mostly out of their homes. Really, only the wealthy, of which there were few, had the leisure time we take for granted. Just an observation.

    Also, I was talking to my husband yesterday on the way home from church about how we spend our time. I am so INTENTIONAL about my time. I view every minute as a gift that God has given me. I deliberate how I will use it. He, on the other hand, tends to sort of “go with the flow,” and “see what happens.” It’s made for some misunderstandings in our relationship. Not sure exactly how that applies, either, but it’s interesting to think about, I guess.

    Sorry for rambling. 🙂

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  18. Posted by Robyn on February 2, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I thought of something else. Although I HATE labels and being forced into a box, I have often longed for something that is radical, revolutionary even in the first century. (And I’ve been accused of being a “socialist,” though I’m not sure how accurate that is.)

    Acts 2:44-47
    And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

    I hate money, the idea of money, the injustices and inequalities created by money, the greed and corruption it entails, and our necessity of it. I often wish that I could join a commune of believers where everyone worked for the common good and everyone had what they needed. No money. No selfishness. No hunger. No criticism of those otherly gifted than oneself. No jealousy. Recognition that every member is important, vital to the optimum functioning of the group. Just a group of believers committed to loving and supporting each other, serving God, working together to provide for the community, and reaching out to show the world God’s love. The Body of Christ.

    Maybe that is what heaven will be like.

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  19. Posted by Dave on February 2, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Please don’t: “Oh no! It’s dat guy again”.
    Thank you for refreshing this topic with this new post.
    The comments here seem to be much more focused than last time.

    Interesting about that Indian proverb – I wonder if that’s somehow partly behind the “blood is thicker than water” adage?

    Anyway,
    I am somewhat in Helen’s corner:
    I believe that dedication to one’s family is human nature, in the sense that this “maternal/paternal instinct” is perhaps one of the last remaining shreds of man’s original (pre-sin) disposition. (though we no longer have the power to exercise it properly) – because we were made in God’s image.
    God is The Dad. He created family. Throughout Scripture there is so much emphasis on love and dedication toward family (immediate then extended).

    Anyway, The reason I like this blog is that the blogs/sites we frequent (although being “supportive community” to us) seldom touch on this radical view of family being “idol” or “cult”.

    We always called it “dedicated” and while I realize that CAN be overemphasized, you almost seem to refer to family too lightly.

    Carla and Caryn:
    Where I am getting this is where it seems that I am reading:
    -Serving God and serving family are two separate issues?!
    Which seems to imply that intense dedication to family prevents one from serving God or somehow makes one neglect service to God?!

    Please tell me: is that what this “cult/bubble” stuff is getting at?

    Reply

  20. Dave-I think there’s going to always be some people who think that Caryn and Carla and others who agree with them are taking the family too lightly. I know that when I try to start these discussions in my church–which will be happening soon–that I’m going to be accused of the same thing. I’m hoping and praying that we can discuss these ideas with the goal of not taking the word of God too lightly. I’m open to others’ opinions and am willing to be exposed if my views aren’t in line with biblical/gospel truths. I want that. But I do think we have to be at a place where we accept that we might not all understand each other and may not all agree with each other even after reading, discussing, praying, etc.

    I don’t think Caryn and Carla are guilty of taking the word of God too lightly. I don’t think you are either. It just appears that right now, some of us are at different places with how it is all fleshing out.

    Reply

  21. Dave–and anyone else who might be concerned that we are taking family too lightly–I can assure you that we take family very, very seriously. I don’t know a woman who doesn’t. I don’t what we’ve said that suggests otherwise.

    This is not an either/or discussion. It’s a both/and. How can we be both committed mothers and committed members of the body of Christ? How can we explore all the gifts and passions God has given us both in our homes and in the world around us? I think those are questions every Christian needs to ask, not just women, not just mothers.

    Of course for a truly revolutionary take on the family, we can look to the Apostle Paul, who pretty much says that dedication to family makes one neglect service to God.:

    “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32-25).

    For that matter, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27).

    So I don’t know, was Paul taking the family too lightly? Was Jesus?

    Reply

  22. Yeah, Dave: I know you’re just trying to get our goats with the taking-family-lightly bit. But I do have to smile a bit upon reading that because I realize the image you have of me and Carla and many of the other Revolutionary moms and dads. You must picture us writing away—probably smoking and cackling—in stark offices on the 47th floor of some high rise, as we figure out how to undermine all of Christianity with our crazy message. I’m sure you envision our kids off crying for mommy (“why can’t she come home and love us?”) somewhere, alone—maybe hungry, probably smoking too—under the careless watch of a doped out teenager.

    If only you could see our lives, Dave. If you could see me and Carla with our kids (just to be clear: we don’t have the same kids!). I think you’d be shocked. All the love, the hugs, the kisses, the attention, the TIME spent.

    But again, I know you’re just trying to get a rise out of us. So now it’s my turn: You say God is The Dad of the family. Yes. Abba Father. Love that. But you do know, he’s also The Mom, right? That is, if you think we’re ALL made in his image, male and female.

    I mean, nothing has shown me more about the heart of God than my being a mother. Nothing has allowed me to tap into the depths of love he has for us (and really, in our fallen state, we can’t even come close) than by experiencing the love I have for my own kids. I know that every good thing about being a mom—every good feeling, every good experience, every joy, every sorrow—bears the image of our God.

    I do hope you read my book when it comes out Dave (you can read Carla’s now). I think it’ll surprise you. For sure, you need to give it to your wife for Mother’s Day.

    Reply

  23. Posted by Dave on February 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you for your response[s].

    With all due respect, I am not just trying to get your goats – and I’m saddened that you would think I’d have such a vile opinion of you. I have read many of your posts and from them deduce you are both dedicated, well-meaning, loving, Christian moms. (Funny though – I do know some who ARE the picture Caryn painted above!)

    Carla:
    “How can we be both committed mothers and committed members of the body of Christ?”
    …still sounds like a blend of one and the other, as if commitment to the body of Christ is a separate issue from commitment to family, implying that just being a committed mom [or dad] demotes one to a substandard level of service.

    The scripture passages you stated, taken in proper context, do NOT say “that dedication to family makes one neglect service to God.”
    -Because of the persecution in the early church [v.26 “for the present distress” – “crisis” as your NIV puts it] Paul is warning that enemies may use family as leverage against Christians to compel them to forsake their faith – therefore he urges them not to change their status. The warning of Christ RE: hating family relates to that – that we must never compromise our own faith for love of family. (whosoever loveth __ MORE than Me is not worthy of Me).

    These verses are not talking about family hindering church work – loving Christian families ARE serving the body of Christ just by being loving Christian families.

    Caryn said “God is The Dad of the family. Yes. Abba Father. Love that. But you do know, he’s also The Mom,”
    to which I agree. (Surprised?) I believe that God serves both stations perfectly.
    Y’know though… He also serves perfectly the station of a child [in the person of Christ Jesus].
    Cool – God as the epitome of every family member! Love that too, no?!

    Anyway, I have learned a lot from this blog – mostly it seems to me that your revolution is an effort to pull people away from conservative, traditional, (and I believe: more Biblical) views of family, family stations, and service to God’s Kingdom in trade for very liberal “do-whatever-WE-want-for-God” attitudes.

    I’m sure your intentions are good, and your desire to “serve God” is genuine, but I’m sorry, I will not be buying your books nor can I in good conscience recommend them to anyone.

    It IS uplifting that you (and your readers) confess Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord
    because that is what is most crucial to everyone!
    -And I praise and thank God for that.

    Thank you for the learnin’.

    Reply

  24. Posted by Cindy on February 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I have a few random thoughts that are probably of little value to this discussion, but are things I’ve been thinking alot about as I try to figure out how I fit into the whole mothering thing.

    1) What impact does contraception have on our idea of the family cult/bubble? We control how many children we have and when. Since families have fewer children than used to be true, does the pressure on each to fulfill all of the parents’ dreams become higher? I adopted my three, and felt (and transferred) a lot of pressure to be a “normal” family and for my kids to be “successful” to justify the ridicule I took for adopting as a single woman. Do bio families have fewer children, and have the luxury of lavishing on their children hopes and dreams that would have been unheard of before 1950? Like I said, random.

    2) Regarding the myth thing: I used to get depressed every Christmas because it didn’t fulfill my longings for the “experience of Christmas.” I thought kids were the answer; they weren’t. I still was depressed and unfulfilled after Christmas. Finally, one year I stopped and tried to figure out what it was that I was longing for–what I was picturing the perfect Christmas would be. I pictured my whole family (parent, siblings, kids–a happy, laughing crowd) all gathered at the family farm. Playing games before the blazing hearth. Sledding and building snowmen. Hot chocolate and cookies. Wonderful meals shared around a big table. Sparkling tree. You get the idea. Then I busted up laughing. There hasn’t been a farm in my family for generations, and I really, really, really wouldn’t want to spend that long with MY family. My big sisters bossing, my kids tearing the place up… I’d formed the idea from all those sappy holiday specials and Christmas cards. I was depressed because I longed for something that didn’t exist.

    I’ve done that with parenting, too; and with my relationship with church. What I’ve been trying to do since then is, when I feel discouraged or alienated, figure out what it is I’m longing for and decide if it even exists anywhere. In the meantime, I try to come alongside my friends and acquaintances as we all try to figure this out.

    I appreciate what Caryn and Carla are doing here, and their ability to be so cogent–a skill that eludes me. Thanks, girls.

    Reply

  25. Posted by Robyn on February 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I find it so freeing to know that there are others out there who believe and understand that every family doesn’t have to fit one model (“conservative” and “traditional”) in order to be glorifying to God and to be biblical–that mothers and fathers don’t have to adhere to “traditions” that are cultural constructions (mother who does not have a job/career and father who does) in order to have be serving God’s kingdom and doing his will. The reality of life is that many families will not be SAHmother/working father/children, but God still works in and through those families and approves of them.

    I don’t think ANYONE here has a do-anything-WE-want attitude. Rather, I think it’s a seek-GOD-and-do-what-HE-calls-us-to attitude.

    But like I said before, it really doesn’t matter what anyone but God thinks. He is the one we seek to please, and it is to HIM we will answer.

    Reply

  26. Posted by Angie on February 11, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Wow. It is awesome to read such articulate women, writing about a subject close to my heart. As a woman with a calling on my life by God for as long as I can remember, I am fortunate to know what one of my gifts is, and how God wants me to use it. I am a Nurse, I was created by God to be a nurse, it is part of my very being. I am also a mother of an amazing little girl. I have comfort in defying society’s (and Church’s) SAHMom ideal because I know I am doing what God has called me to do. This must be very difficult for anyone who is serching, or even women who are working just to make ends meet. I often hear “oh it must be so hard that you have to work” and many statements like that. But I know that doing what I do makes me a better mother, and also that being a mother makes me a better nurse. (It just so happens I am a pediatric nurse so that works in reality and spiritually:)) And I also love others children as they are my own, and care for them when they are sick as I would for my own (only reduced hours).
    God puts us in places that we may wonder about, only later with wisdom and hindsight can we see the grand orchestration of his hands.
    I love this idea of community. I am fortunate that my sister and I have children the same age, and we really do try to help each other a lot. I would love if the community were bigger. Some of the ideas here are not too unlike the jesus people movement of the 70’s trying to dwell in relationship, with God and others.
    That may be a little patchy but I wanted to contribute, Thanks!

    Reply

  27. Posted by Jennifer on February 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Dave! You pulled out the trump card! The big guns! Calling a Christian “liberal” is the ultimate conversation stopper.

    I don’t think you should confuse a blog that allows and encourages women/moms/wives to discuss what it means to be a woman/mom/wives in Christian culture today with doctrine. It seems to me that everyone posting here is “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.”

    It’s tough, Dave, to be a woman and a Christ follower and a mother and a provider and an individual and be part of a community. There is no agenda that I can see in this “revolution”. It seems to me that these women are working it out. And praise God for wives and mothers who want to live out their committment to Christ so intentionally!

    Of course men/husbands/ fathers have their own work to do. I am not saying one is more valuable than another. They are both essential!

    I am just saying… why silence anyone with the “liberal” word, just because they are brave enough to ask questions when something feels off balance?

    Reply

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