Videos About Family Idolatry by Christians / Desiring Marriage is NOT Idolatry
If and when I find new video about Family Idolatry, I will likely amend this post to add the new links at the bottom rather than make a new post.
I was looking for some videos of pastors addressing the problem of the idolatry of family/ marriage/ procreation in American Christianity.
So far, I’ve not found that many. Out of the 3 or 4 I’ve watched so far, they don’t frame the issue in a way I’d like to see.
In the video with Tim Keller of Focus on the Family, he seems concerned only that Christian parents are doting on their kids too much; the same view was taken by some other pastor in another video.
Another pastor (Norbit), in another video, mainly seems to take issue with spouses who place spouses above God. He rants about how Satan may use your devotion to your spouse to distract you from serving God and following God’s will.
Norbit also goes into a strange tangent about how, in his view, some Christians use Jesus as a pagan might use a witch doctor. He chides them for looking to Jesus to get their needs met – which is an unbiblical view for him to espouse; we’re told repeatedly in the New Testament to look to God to get our needs met (financial, physical, or emotional). And I don’t completely get what the “witch doctor,” “church planting,” and “Hindu multiple gods” bits he gets into have to do with making a spouse into an idol.
Contrary to what this Norbit guy says at one stage in the video, serving people is sometimes how one serves God. (Norbit says that Jesus conveyed to Mary that Jesus came only to serve God’s perfect plan and not to fulfill what humans wanted or needed. I disagree with him, depending on how he means it, for God tells Christians it is sometimes God’s will for Christians to meet the needs of other people.)
All this criticism by these preachers of parents catering too much to their children, or of spouses doting too much on the needs of their spouses, is all very well and good, but what I’d like to see exposed is how exclusionairy and alienating family-, marriage-, child- centric Christian culture is for those of us who do not fit the “married with kids” status. But this point is almost never addressed.
I am waiting for some pastor to say from the pulpit,
- “To all the never-married Christians over the age of 30, to the divorced, to those celibates struggling with same-sex attraction, to the widows and widowers, to those married couples childless or childfree, I apologize on behalf of all American Christians who have either excluded you, ignored your needs, or who have repeated and maintained negative stereotypes against those who are not married with children. I am so sorry. This exclusion needs to stop.”
I had high hopes for one video by Bill White, but was annoyed with it.
Bill White admits in his video to being a happily married man with two sons (and I believe one daughter? I listened to his video only one time in the wee hours of the morning while half-asleep, so I don’t recall all the details).
Expecting White to scold Christians for ignoring the needs of, or stomping on the feelings of, never-married Christians or married couples without children, I was dismayed to see him telling infertile couples who desire children and never-marrieds who desire marriage that they are making an idol out of parenthood and marriage!
Gee thanks, Pastor White! As if we never-marrieds don’t get criticized enough already as it is in the chruch. Thanks for adding to the mistreatment even more! Much appreciated /sarcasm.
—- ANTI UNMARRIED STEREOTYPE —
By the way, this is a typical attitude (an anti-unmarried person stereotype) I see fostered by pastors and Christian authors often: they are under the misguided notion that each and every unmarried Christian who desires marriage is de facto, automatically “idolizing” marriage.
It’s just ASSUMED that every woman who is single has turned desire for marriage into an idol. This simply is not true. But it’s also a problematic idea, because these pastors almost never quantify exactly how much desire borders on to “idolization.” Telling me that it’s a “heart attitude issue” doesn’t clarify things much, either.
If I think about wanting to get married twice per month, is that idolization of marriage? Or is it ten times per month? Is it 50 times per month? Does it become idolization when I join a single dating site in a year? Or 20 sites? And who, other than God, can really determine when and where that line is?
—- END Discussion of ANTI UNMARRIED STEREOTYPE —
I think White tried to qualify his views by saying that if your need to have a kid or spouse is all- consuming that it’s a distraction from serving God, it becomes idolatry.
However, at no time do I recall White going out of his way to re-assure his audience that there is nothing selfish, idolatrous, or sinful about merely wanting to have a child or to be married.
And there is nothing wrong, idolatrous, or sinful about wanting to be married or wanting to be a parent.
Think of all the barren women in the Old Testament who begged God to allow them to have a child, and He granted their petition, or when He helped people get a spouse (e.g., 1 Samuel 1:27; and in Genesis Ch. 24, it is said that God helps the servant find a wife for Isaac). If God considered desire for a kid or a spouse wrong, He would not have given these people kids and spouses.
It’s hypocritical, rudeness, and insensitivity for a happily married man with two or three children (pastor White) to lecture infertiles who want babies, or singles who want spouses, that they are idolizing kids / marriage.
At least the jerk (White) had the decency in the same video not to toss the usual cliches at singles desiring marriage about, “Jesus is sufficent to meet all your needs!,” and “Be content in your singleness!,” or “Singleness is a gift!,” or, “Serve in the church more, take your mind off you!”
Such condemnation is hypocrisy on a second front. Pastor White, and pastors like him, lecture singles that wanting marriage is idolatry, yet – many conservative Christian churches and organizations hold marriage and parenthood (as well as wealth and career success) up to all church members as the ultimate prize in life.
American preachers continually dote on, esteem, and idolize marriage and parenthood (“family values”) in their weekly sermons and in their books and blogs.
These preachers are the ones fostering this extreme, unhealthy pre-occupation with marriage and kids.
When or if this marital and parenting pre-occupation by conservative Christians makes the unmarried (or infertile couples) feel bad, as though they don’t measure up to other Christians, so that they try hustling to get spouses or kids of their own, the same preachers have the audacity to tell them, “How dare you seek after spouse / kids, you idolater you.”
You know what, pastors?
If you do not want unmarried Christians “making an idol of marriage,” why, then, don’t you shut up about marriage?
Why are the majority of your sermons about marriage or parenting, which lends the impression that those are the biggest goals a Christian can aspire to? Why is almost every analogy about God in your sermons or books made to marriage or to parenting?
Why don’t you preachers or Christian television show hosts begin affirming singlehood and celibacy more often from the pulpit? Why do you not address the needs and struggles of unmarried Christians who are over the age of 30?
Maybe if you preachers, Christian authors, and Christian bloggers began talking respectfully about unmarried, childless, and childfree Christians in your sermons, books, blogs, and radio shows as much as you do “married with kids” Christians, and as often as you fret and opine about “attacks on traditional families,” you wouldn’t have people pining away for marriage and kids as much as they do. It’s not rocket science.
You preachers, and you conservative Christian groups (e.g., “Focus on the Family”), are the very ones fostering this rabid desire for marriage and kids in some Christians, so don’t blame any unmarried Christians or infertile married couples if, or when, they may obsess about lacking those things.
You preachers are creating the environment, then hypocritically blaming your audience and listeners for buying into it. That is primarily your fault, since you are leading people there yourselves.
Getting back to the topic of Pastor White insisting that singles wanting marriage, or that married couples wanting children, is equivalent to idolatry:
Let me tell Pastor White something:
If his two (or is it three?) kids and wife die in a car accident tomorrow, and God does not see fit to send him ‘spouse number two’ for the rest of his life, let’s see after ten, fifteen, twenty years of living alone, possibly lonely, and celibate, how eager he is to jump up behind the pulpit and again lecture singles or the childless that wanting marriage or kids is “idolatry.”
It reminds me of the online, video testimony of a preacher I saw about a year ago, who admits that before he was assaulted with clinical depression himself, he had no clue how hellish it could be.
This pastor confessed to being unsympathetic to those church members with depression who came to him for help. He said he used to give them platitudes, such as, “Just read your Bible more!”
He said he didn’t fully “get” how disabling and emotionally painful depression was until he himself was afflicted with it for two years. After he went through depression firsthand, his attitude changed from night to day.
I swear, if these married pastors with children who lecture Christians it’s idolatry to merely want marriage and/or children lost all their kids and their wives tomorrow, they would be singing a different tune about these issues.
It’s oh- so- easy to lecture, criticize, and condemn when you personally are not suffering from the particular problem or affliction someone else is going through.
– LINKS to the VIDEOS –
1. (Link): Tim Keller – Making an Idol of Our Family
This video movie review by Barron was fairly good, but you won’t hear the ‘anti-Family Idolatry’ commentary until late in the video, around the 7.30 mark: