Balancing the Scale
What the Bible portrays is often in opposition to our prevailing culture. Yet, because the culture, the worldly system, has so infiltrated our churches, a battle ensues any time there is a concerted move ( whether individual or group) to align with the Bible’s pattern.
A common tension is the one, often garbled, on money. The love of money being the root of all evil and the garbled version which leaves out the definitive “love”, or idolatrous place of money. Often the family size-birth control controversy has components of “money/can we afford it/fewer means better provision”. It makes sense that this is foremost in a materialistic society. People will rant til the cows come home on faith teachings and the prosperity messages, but see no problems making all sorts of moral decisions based on their perceived “lack”. How backwards is that? I have often thought of the Faith/Prosperity teachings in conjunction with some of this QF belief, both have those who take things out of their context and go to extremes not within the teachings themselves. It is often true that truth within teaching is taken out of the proper context. That does not deny the truth within it, but it gives cause for the whole precept to be dismissed.
The money factor is often rooted in very “gentile” or unbelieving mindsets. The basic teaching of Jesus on this is that we are not to worry about money or provision, that we are to cast our care for these things on God. That doesn’t displace our need for wisdom and restraint, but it places those matters bound by money fears on a different plane. The perception of what we can afford is so subjective that it can be stretched to mean almost anything without further clarifying in our thoughts and circumstances of realities. In fact, this whole distorted view is at the base of many such concepts as over-population. Which more likely is simply a greed and distribution problem rather than a number problem. We can apply the same thoughts to our ideas of family.
That does not create a moral mandate to distribute money in certain ways, it does keep one from using provision, or lack, as an easy excuse. Perhaps this is why I have often said the economics of a large family is different to the query, “How do you manage?”.
In the culture we have an equation of monetary wealth, or just its accoutrements, with our entire worth as a person. This was illustrated in the Mommy Wars quote,
“History suggests that financial success is the only way women will finally achieve not just legal equality with men but also power and respect. – Ann Marlowe”
And we all know how the world hinges upon power and respect.
Something within man rejects an equation of ones worth with things, so it isn’t only in Christian doctrine that there is a revolt against such views. But it is within Christianity that we have the theological support to sustain the revolt, and institute the restoration of balance. That is what I think is happening within some of these Christian, largely women-oriented, teachings. Women, not going backwards, but forward in a new way.
This is good for Christianity if they are going forward in a Christian inflected manner, which would eschew propaganda, manipulation, and pushiness. They are renewing and reforming the form and role of the family.
So what about this idea that “Parenting is the highest calling given to mankind”?
Although somewhat related to the Culture, I wonder if this is more related to traditions handed down through the Church. Vestiges of false conclusions in the traditional Churches doctrines? This is harder to thread out, because there are some real admonitions to put God above our interest in family. But along the way, with the erosion of family importance, this became so imbalanced that modern traditional and fundamental Christians have placed an emphasis on it and moved it up in placement.
They aren’t without supportive scripture in doing that. The Pauline epistles have a strong underlining of the importance of taking care of ones own. Jesus gave His teaching on ‘Corban’.
And contrast that with the steamrolling of the Pentacostals and Holiness movements that placed ministry in the Church and outside the family above all else. They followed in a strong stream of historical precedent in the Evangelicals, all the way to roots that probably are in the monastic movements of the Catholic Church. A professional priesthood that is primary…. which following the Reformations priests with families, naturally put that persons family at the lower rung of importance.
This happened as the specific lay ministry idea was swallowed up into the minsitry being uppermost, which traditionally had been ordained individuals.
This shifted mightily once the view of ministry widened out in the resurgence of the Church in the past decades, after the lines between laity and professional ministers became blurred. Along with this some of the ideas of homelife ministry resurrected.
I say thank God for it.
Does this make parenting on the top level, however? That would be impossible to support scripturally. It has great importance, and culturally we see the destructions from its diminishment, but the aggressive promotion of it to top place is reactionary, and faulty for that reason. It was a necessary pendulum swing, but it has not found its equilibrium yet.
What is apparent in this broken society is that building cities of refuge, made up of whole and healthy families, families that are surrendered to God in obedience, that are living examples of walking in faith, is the creation of resevoirs of- as yet -fully untapped ministry.
Religion, Women, and the Family in Early America