The joy of my life is my family. God has given me a wonderful wife and blessed us with two daughters (and a son due in July). I often "step back" mentally and wonder at the grace of God and these precious gifts He has bestowed on me.
Naturally I also consider the responsibility that comes with such a position in life and am thankful that He who created the family also included instructions.
Unfortunately those guidelines are often ignored or perverted to the point that the family doesn't honor God and forfeits the harmony, beauty and joy that should be intrinsic in this first institution of man.
Consider the following examples:
Feudal Lord- This is a home where all of life revolves around an Archie Bunker kind of dad. The self-centered, immature galoot rules his household with anger and turns the atmosphere into a prison. The children look forward to growing up in the same way a prisoner looks toward parole.
Patriarchal Anti-thesis- Here the overriding motivation of the parents is to give their children what they never had money, possessions, freedom, etc. . .
Ecclesiasticized- Too much church. Gosh I hope this one doesn't surprise you, but there are a lot of busy church members with no home life. And the modern church with its abundance of programs serves as an enabler.
Auto-egalitarian- a social-economic agenda of: living by, shopping where, and attending church with the ever present Joneses.
Notice that while all these examples have good elements (leadership, provision, service) no one would want their family to be characterized by them.
But there is a paradigm that has been wholeheartedly accepted and unconsciously endorsed as today's family model. Unlike the other examples, this one is insidious because it appears copacetic to church and society. This is so normal, in fact, that anything else looks subnormal, anti-social, weird. It is a model produced by secular culture's collective individualism and accepted as the way things are and should be. The discerning Christian will want to assess just how close the following describes their family and make biblical correction. Unlike most corporations this business operates out of a "home." Associates check in with each other via beeper, cellular phone, answering machine and the occasional archaic note. Sometimes they actually spend time together when their individual schedules allow.
Dad the CEO, usually has a hands off management style that allows everyone to do their own thing as long as no one goes over budget.
Mom, the COO, also holds the offices of property manager, transportation chief, caterer, supplemental or equal income producer, personnel director, ad infinitum.
Children operate as VP's of Pubescent and Adolescent Activities including: School, youth group, and practice (soccer, basketball, karate, cheerleading, band, tennis, hockey, piano, gymnastics, dance, football, etc. Choose several for each child.) Such activities also include amusements, dating, mall walking, etc.
The house serves as an office complex where each associate periodically picks up messages, makes phone calls, holds short organizational meetings, and picks up clothes/equipment/data/etc. for the next scheduled event.
Christians I have talked to are concerned about this artificial idea of family, but are at a loss as to what to do. How do we stop this runaway train of corporatism? Well its not like we have to reinvent the wheel. The Puritans had the right idea. They simply did not allow anything to interfere with or interrupt family routine. (How foreign this is to modern schedules!) They believed the home to be a miniature church, a corpus, a body of people joined together for the glory of God.
What is the purpose of your family? Are you better defined as individuals or a group? If someone were to observe the daily routine of your home would it resemble a family or a business? The riches of the familial experiences are memories, legacy, tradition, learning. How wealthy are you and your children? I'm afraid that most everyone associated with Family Inc. is going to eventually end up bankrupt.
Laurence Windham and family will soon, Deo volente, be joining the Highlands Study Center.
*Reprinted from Every Thought Captive, the newsletter of The Highlands Study Center directed by R.C. Sproul Jr. If you are interested in more information on The Highlands Study Center contact Pastor R.C. Sproul Jr. at (540) 475-6064 or if you have e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.