Society’s Power: The Family

When it comes to real estate–location, location, location.

And when it comes to strong societies–family, family, family.

I almost get sick to my stomach when I hear Christians tsk other Christians for “making too much of the family”.  I suppose there could be such a thing, but I think we make a grave mistake assuming one can be “too concerned” about the health of the family.

R.J. Rushdoony writes:

“The growth of statist power in health, education, and welfare has been marked by a retreat of Christians from those sectors.  This has enabled the state to enter by default into society’s key area of power, the family.  Control of the family means control over all of society.  The church cannot be strong where the family is weak.  The decay of family and church is the decay of society.”

And can’t you see it?  The devastating results of “too little emphasis” on the family?  When we stop investing in our families, they make an easy, open target for attack.

We live in an era where even the church elevates the individual, often to the demise of the family.  Throughout Scripture we see where God worked through families, and largely even through nations and generations to fulfill His purposes.  He is a far-sighted, generationally-reaching God, and we are to be too.

Which is why we have to pay such careful attention to our health as a family.  It is why divorce among believers should make us weep; it’s why we must invest every ounce of our being into nurturing the souls of our children; it’s why we should help them approach marriage with a gravity and preparation unheard of among pop-culture.  It’s why we must see ourselves as one force, worthy of defense, united in purpose and vision.

And ultimately, why we should be seeking to share this vision with other families, taking them under our wings and encouraging them to fight the good fight and march under the banner of Christ.

31 Responses to “Society’s Power: The Family”

  1. A Christian family is (or at least ought to be) a reflection of the Christian Church, with the husband and wife specifically reflecting the relationship of Christ to the Church. St. Paul speaks of it as a “profound mystery”–so how can any Christian possibly disagree with what Kelly has written here? Even if you are single, shouldn’t you want to uphold the family, not only because of its importance in the growing and strengthening of the Church but because of what it represents to the Lost? Oh, I’m with you, Kelly!

  2. Diane says:

    So I was listening to KLOVE today and the “Dobson Family Minute” came on. It was the worst advice I’ve ever heard. It said that mom’s need to get atleast 30mins away from their kids/toddlers everyday and that they should hire a mommy’s helper in order to do so.

    That didn’t make any sense to me. Don’t we have children to raise them up? I understand mom’s needing some “me time” at times, but really…everyday? I don’t have kids, but I don’t see that as good advice.

  3. Leslie from VA says:

    Great post, Kelly! Excellent….

    Diane,
    As a young Momma, I remember hearing advice like that, and it would put me in such a state of discontent! Someone older and wiser told me to stop comparing myself to today’s Mom and refocus on biblical examples and Moms from the past. Hmmmmm, how would a Mom traveling west in a covered wagon get 30 minutes to herself? However, a daily Bible time is essential for Moms…..if anything, keep a Bible in every bathroom and read a snipit each time you “visit”. Susanna Wesley would throw her apron over her head and have her Bible reading while the children played around her. They knew that their Momma was busy with the LORD. 🙂

  4. Michelle D. says:

    What a wonderful post. Thank you for the inspiration today. Some days you just need that encouragement that you are doing the right thing.

  5. Karen from Georgia says:

    Thank you for another encouraging post. Your final sentence hits a powerful note for me. About six years ago my husband and I were going through a very dark time in our marriage. So much of the advice that each of us was hearing focused on meeting our individual wants; basically fueling our discontent with each other. About the time it seemed like we were headed for divorce I ran into a friend I had not seen in a long time, a very devoted and passionate Christian. After hearing that we were thinking of separating, he looked at me and said “What do you think GOD wants for your family?” He was the first person who asked me to look to God and not to myself.
    It has been a long road, but my husband and I are still together. And after years of taking the children to church by myself, my husband has accepted Christ and is now the one leading us!
    We must be absolutely vigilant in protecting our families. When those who are hurting and broken come to us, we must share GOD’S truth with them. Had my friend not spoke those words, my family may have been anther statistic. He stood by our family offering truth and compassion, always reminding me of God’s promises. Reminding me to wait patiently and faithfully. Reminding me to seek God’s Word and share it with my husband and children.

  6. Jill F. says:

    I agree with you, Kelly. However, I am very very alarmed at something I am seeing among Christian families. Many Christian families are emphasizing family so much that the church is not a priority in their lives. Yes, the American church (in general) is in a sad state…however, our children need to see that we are committed to worshiping together with other believers and that we uphold the public reading of God’s word. One family I know serves as an example of the trend I am seeing; they were hurt by something that went on in their church so they chose to have family church to try to heal. After a year or more of this, the parents allowed each of their five children to go to different churches and get involved in the ministries of those churches but the parents continue to “worship in their own way” at home. This sort of thing is common in the area where we live and (I am sure) all of these families consider themselves to be committed Christian families!

    As Bethany posted above; the Christian family is a picture of the relationship of Christ and the Church and our commitment to other believers in the body of Christ and our commitment to worshiping together in church is vital!
    We Americans sure like the “private” part of being a Christian but we emphasize it to the peril of our children. Our children can quickly reach adulthood without ever seeing or knowing what love and service in the body of Christ is all about…and then we will weep over how our children are being raised.
    I have not written this very articulately and, yes, we have been hurt by people in the church and have struggled to find solid churches but…our children are so blessed as we raise them within the church, no matter how immature it may be.

  7. Word Warrior says:

    Diane,

    I agree with you and was going to say what Leslie said…even if that advise *sounds* harmless, I think it subtly breeds discontent and a “me spirit” among women. I’ve been disappointed at several things Dobson has said lately…I may post in the near future about another bizarre comment he made about toddlers and church.

  8. Cheri says:

    I don’t comment very often, but wanted to first say that I fully agree with this post.

    Second, Diane, I have 4 kids, oldest is 18, youngest is 6. I do take 30 (or more) minutes to myself each day. Not because a radio personality suggessted it, but because without my “me” time, I am not a very good Mom. My “me” time is usually spent alone early in the morning in prayer, reading my Bible or a good book, (while kids are still asleep) on the net reading articles such as this, taking a walk, working out, or listening to some wonderful music. I am a firm believer in getting alone sometimes. I wither without it! Maybe when you have children, you will understand this better. 🙂

  9. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this post, Kelly. It brought be to tears as we have had the “tsk tsk” of too much about the family from some in our church.

    This line was particulary meaningful to me:

    “And ultimately, why we should be seeking to share this vision with other families, taking them under our wings and encouraging them to fight the good fight and march under the banner of Christ.”

    I am so thankful to the Lord for providing one family in our church in particular who has shared the vision with us and in many ways taken us (and several other families!) under their wings.

    Blesings to you and your family. 🙂

  10. Word Warrior says:

    Karen,

    What a beautiful, encouraging testimony!!! Especially considering that in our post-modern “me-centered” church so many are (falsely) teaching that the “loving” thing to do is to stay out of each other’s business. But Scripture teaches, in essence, that the ONLY loving thing to do is to teach, admonish, and encourage each other to TRUTH in love…even “pulling some from the fire”.

    I’m so thankful for what the Lord has done, and is doing in your family!

  11. Diane- I do not like the advice you heard at all. However, being an introvert (meaning I need some downtime/alone time in order to cope and thrive), I do know that I need at least half an hour of “me-time” each day (spent in prayer, quietly speaking with my husband, or just reading a book), just because I need a brief spell of quiet to regain composure at the end of a day with two little ones. But, I certainly don’t need to feel ENTITLED to it–just to prioritize it. And I certainly don’t need to HIRE anyone to do it! Why would I want to take that time during my children’s precious waking hours? I just nab it when they go down for their afternoon nap (often while eating my lunch) or after they’re in bed (my hsuband’s an introvert, too, so we usually both get a brief spell of “me-time” as soon as the kids are down before we come together again for “couple time”)

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. It’s not that alone-time is a bad thing, but to insist upon it to the neglect of our kids is just foolish.

  12. Kelly L says:

    This is another great post. When we were first married, my husband really liked watching sports…all the time. Our daughter came along 15 months into our marriage. It wasn’t long before she wanted him and he wanted to see the game. Finally I told him that when little girls do not have their daddy’s attention and a great relationship with them, they eventually turn to other boys/men to fill the need. That was the end of the tv time and the start of family time. I praise God that my husband was so sensitive to the Lord to change. We must encourage others to push through a bad spell in marriage, prioritize disciplining and loving their children, and putting the spiritual needs of the family before all wordly things. It is the only way to have a successful family. One that serves God first, each other second and the world third.

  13. Kim M says:

    Kelly, you said :

    “And can’t you see it? The devastating results of “too little emphasis” on the family? When we stop investing in our families, they make an easy, open target for attack.

    A big amen to this! ***Even churches*** can harm the family when you are made to feel less than spiritual if you don’t let all of the extra activities pull you apart.

    There was one time in my life, when I literally allowed myself to neglect my husband, my devotional time with God, eat unhealthy, and ended up literally physically ill (because I did not have time to cook) because of too many responsibilities in which that particular church had organized and had expected me to participate. And the same women participating in those events would stand there and “tsk” the women who had declined to help in those extra activities.

    I am not knocking activities, it is just that sometimes too many of them can completely overwhelm a family.

  14. Church and family should go together without hesitation. Not all the extra activities, but some of them – even most of them. But most of these extra activities should be build the family up together, not seperate into age and gender lines. Unfortunately, that does pull at the family unity – the same way any state regulated events tend to do.

  15. Amen. When we started pastoring mainline denominational churches here in the midwest, we felt like such sinners because these churches only had one service per week (Sunday morning), and Wednesday night was for choir and our family was not in choir. After a while, we got used to it and then realized it was great for our family. For the last 13 years, we have had nearly every night available to our children, unless something special came up like a once-a-month board meeting. I can honestly say that we were never too busy at church for our family. What a gift. I agree, too much church is detrimental to family life, especially since many churches split the family up.

  16. I wanted to go on…these churches were tiny and not able to give much support money. We have our own money. Churches that pay full liveable salaries to pastors, naturally, expect that there be a full roster of activities. Our churches have not had many programs at all, but our family has been better off. And, then on Sunday morning, we are so happy to see each other! My husband always read a chapter of the bible aloud to our children before they went to school, and ended up reading it completely through 2 times with them. Family time is so important, and fathers teaching their children about God is so important. My husband always teaches this to our church members.

  17. Diane says:

    Cheri,

    I totally understand finding time for yourself. I absoulutely agree that time in God’s word and focusing on yourself working out, reading a book, or doing another something you enjoy is essential. My point is that getting up early to do that, or finding that time during the children’s nap time or after they have gone to bed is the time to do. I don’t agree that all that the children should be sent off with someone to take care of them, so a mom can have her own time. That is what I think is foolish. I may not be a mother, but I certainly have sought after what I believe God wants family to be and I am trying to prepare myself to be the best mother I can be. Part of that comes from surrounding myself with Godly Women who have families and are seeking out God’s will for their lives.

    Thank you other ladies for the feedback as well. I enjoy hearing what Godly mothers think as I prepare myself to be a mom some day.

  18. Word Warrior says:

    Mary,

    Great observations!

  19. Rachel Falaschi says:

    I do enjoy “me time” occasionally. But not at the expense of my children. If I get up before the kids, great, I get “me time”. Even my hubby will take the kids out for a while to give me some time alone. It’s a nice TREAT once in a while, but I do not think we should be “entitled” to it, nor seek out babysitters to achieve it.

    Everything I enjoy doing is better if we do it as a family. I love talking walks, even better when we do it together. I love reading, especially to the children or listening to my husband read to us all. I love baking, and it is so much more fun when we all do it together. I love watering the garden, but it is more fun to do so with the kids, it usually turns to a water fight, but hey, it’s summer and hot so it’s fun. I can think of very little that I would like to do without them. Even naps are fun when you can all cuddle up together.

    Our family does just about everything together, and we are all so close. Our extended family thinks we’re weird, but hey, we don’t mind. When the trials of life come, we can handle it better together as well. Thank God for my family!

  20. Jill F. says:

    I’ll chime in here (again!) because an issue has been raised that I didn’t address in my post. I agree, that the evangelical church in America has become so activity centered that there is a huge pull to weaken the family. My particular denomination does not emphasize such activities and it does pay its Pastors a living wage so that he and his family can live and minister. I have been blessed to see Pastor’s wives who are allowed to be just that WIVES and Mothers as well!

    I remember being exhausted from the expectation from the church leadership that I should be more involved with all the “fun” of church even though I had many young ones and was often pregnant. The solution, however, is not to label church as weakening the family…the solution is to make a stand (calmly and with a smile…if possible) and build the church through hospitality in your home….( which for a young mom of many can mean iced tea and popcorn served with love!. Just don’t forsake assembling together one with another!

  21. I usually got time to myself when my little ones napped. Or my husband would watch them while I caught up on housework or something. I suppose it is better to hire a teen to come in and sit if you are going to explode and take out on the children — I suppose it depends upon the person and the circumstances.

    Many large families have older sisters who are able to sit with the younger children while mom catches up on some work. In the olden days, grandmothers or aunts used to step in and help. In the covered wagon days, women helped each other. At least that’s what I’ve read. We rarely have that kind of community any more.

    In today’s society, it is a hard adjustment for young mothers, when the extended family that used to give a hand is split up all over the country, and she is alone all day with the children and perhaps the husband doesn’t help.

    It is good to look back to see how mothers in the olden days did things, but we don’t always have their circumstances like extended family or sense of community.

    Susannah Wesley had seven living children (yes, she gave birth to 19, but more than half of them died in infancy or early childhood), but she also employed a cook, maid and wet-nurse, as was common in her day with no modern conveniences. But, she had a good idea of putting her apron on over her head to pray!

    I agree with Diane that every day seems extreme to have an outsider come in and “spell” a mom, but maybe once in a while isn’t so bad, especially if you are right there. I think it depends on the person. Just some thoughts.

  22. Diane says:

    I was discussing this with my mom this evening, and she agreed with the point made that, many larger families (where it seems the most that a mom might need a break) have older children in the family who can help out with the younger children. This helps the mom get some to tend to herself or things she needs to do, while still keeping it family that is there to tend to the younger children needing taking care of.
    Just thought I’d add another thought of mine. I’ve enjoyed the conversation greatly.

  23. Diane says:

    Oh, also…I’d love to hear what he had to say about toddlers and church.

  24. madge says:

    Our first baby was very high need–when he was in a grown spurt he would sleep less than nine hours a day total. I didn’t get help–thought it was all my “job” to tend to his every need. I did hav my mother to help out so I could get a shower, unlike so many my husband is really good with babies. In retrospect, a mother’s helper a couple of afternoons a week–just to recharge the batteries, so to speak–would have made me a much better mother.

    Stuff like that is so subjective, and so ultimately inessential to the Christian walk. It infuriated me that mothers beat each other up over such silliness.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Dobson–he’s always struck me as Dr Phil with a Christian veneer–but if an individual mom needs or wants a few afternoons a week to read a book or exercise or whatever, can afford help with housecleaning or really any other sort of help to make her family’s life go smoother (even if it means she works a few hours a week)–that is nothing for me or anyone else to judge.

  25. Jill F

    I agree! As members of a local church, we need to be ACTIVE members…shaping the church as family integrated. Our little church has some age-specific events, such as youth night, but there is no reason parents should avoid participating in these events, too.

    Build the family, build the church!

  26. Word Warrior says:

    Just a summary thought about the “mommy time”…I agree here that it’s certainly OK to “get refreshed” from time to time; every now and then my husband will send me shopping by myself for that purpose. Or during pregnancy, etc., we’ve had older girls come in and help out. I think that’s perfectly wonderful, and should even be something we help each other with more as families (mothers, grandmothers, etc.) I think years ago maybe there was more community and support in that regard.

    What I don’t like about Dobson’s advice is a sense of “entitlement” and the “30 minutes EVERY day” as if without it mothers will collapse.

    Typically speaking, when mother is healthy, at home, embracing her job, it’s like any other job–it’s challenging at times, but not overwhelming, especially if the children are being trained to obey and respect the rules of the home. And I agree with what others have said about the moments in the day that present themselves for a “breather”…early in the morning, during naps (we nap religiously), etc.

    So, just to say I don’t think it’s a blanket statement either way…this is our blessed job, and we should take advantage of God-given rest, but not come to expect it as an entitlement “away” from our children.

  27. Lisa M. says:

    Is it any wonder that when a mother or father has the attitude of “getting the children out of my hair” for their own time that as our children become teens they want their own time, too? I think it’s just the beginning of passing down a self-centered perspective. Having time alone is fine as long as our motives are in order.

  28. elizabeth says:

    Kelly,
    I agree 100% with your reply about the “me time,” but I just had to LOL because dh and I will tend to the kids while the other gets a break ( a nap, run errands, catch up on a project). If you have a spouse who is in the home with you -not travelling, working 2 jobs, or deployed- you should feel like you can say, “honey could you please keep an eye on the kids for me for a half hour?”

  29. Brandi says:

    My comment is a little off point in regards to this post, but connected in mother/child relationship. This past week I connected with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen since highschool. She and I met for lunch. At the table next to us was a young woman having lunch alone. She engaged me in conversation for several minutes thinking she knew me from somewhere. She persisted in asking me questions, so my friend invited her to join us. She happily accepted and moved to our table. She was a very lovely young woman, very dressed up, with Blackberry constantly in hand. The catching up I had hoped to do with my friend would have to wait. We engaged in very light conversation about crafting, housework, and our children. I found it very difficult keeping the conversation going with the young woman. In the thirty minute lunch impromptu meeting, she proceded to tell us she could never be a stay at home mom. Her words “I could never do that, for my own sanity, I could never do that.” She also told us her three year old has been in a daycare since she was three weeks old, and her little girl is not allowed to color at home for fear she might mess up the house. I was a little stunned at some points by her confessions. There were ackward glances and silences between my friend and myself. We didn’t know how to respond, I broke the tension by telling the story of my own 3yo’s art work in red sharpie on my bedroom wall (It’s been there six months now).

    I am troubled for this young mother and her little girl. We exchanged information and politely said our goodbyes. My friend and I went on with our afternoon of cosignment shopping. I did enjoy my “girltime” (first time in a few years) it was nice to come through the door to my babies yelling “mommy’s home”. I loved that!! I wonder if that young mother can appreciate hearing those words every afternoon or is it burdensome to her.
    I would have posted this comment on my own blog but encase she looks me up there, I didn’t want to hurt any feelings. I’m just curious how others would have responded to another mom making these kind of statements regarding lack of appreciation for motherhood.
    Sorry Kelly for bring this long comment on your blog. I just appreciate all the good encouragement that you and the ladies here have to offer.

  30. Word Warrior says:

    Brandi,

    Those statements are so hard to hear, especially when we tasted the joy and wonders of motherhood. AND it’s hard to know what to say in the small window of time you have with a person like that. I always just silently pray that the Lord would bring me the right words…the words that would continue to resonate in their hearts and cause them to be more tender toward their children.

    Or at least try to express the love and joy I feel as a mother…perhaps she has never seen that. Anyway, it was good that you had the brief time to plants seeds!

  31. Rachel says:

    I’m glad that christians such as yourself (Kelly) are beginning to emphasise the importance of family. I wish more christians over here in the U.K. would begin to do the same. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a case of either the church or the family. However, having grown up in a church which emphasised the church over the family, I can see the huge dangers of neglecting family.

    I am the youngest of five and growing up we attended a church which had and still has, a very strong children’s outreach work. It has certainly been blessed by the Lord, with many children from broken homes being saved.

    Problem was, as a child, I hardly ever saw my father, who is an elder at the church. His weekly evening schedule, after a long day at work was:

    Monday – youth group
    Tuesday – bible study at church
    Wednesday – youth group
    Thursday – preparation for sunday sermon
    Friday – prayer meeting
    Saturday – normally my poor Dad had a migraine, if not he would be doing door-to-door evangelism, very rarely we would be able to have a family day together
    Sunday – church in the morning, rush home for lunch, out to take afternoon evangelistic childrens meetings, rush home for tea, out in the evening until 9pm for church and fellowship.

    So, as you can see from that schedule, bearing in mind he got in from work at 6pm and was normally out the door to church at 7pm, we *never* saw Dad!

    I’m 23 now, and married. It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve actually got to know my own father. I remember at University, he came to pick me up at the end of term, alone, without Mum. I was so nervous – what would we talk about? Would it be awkward? It was! Poor Dad has tried his best – I would never say he was a bad father, but my older siblings, who only spent part of their childhood at this church, have a much closer relationship with Dad than me. It makes me so sad.

    The church has been challenged about this, and clearly think that the mother should be solely responsible for the children, and should not complain if her husband has to spend most of his time ministering in the church. I’ve heard many comments from ladies who feel that they were effectively single parents because of all the time their husbands had to spend at church. This can’t be right!

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