Our Priorities Are Off When Family Is More Important Than Church – Jesus’ focus was on the family of God, not the biological family. by J. Hellerman
I’ve been saying the same thing on this blog the last few years: American Christians have turned the Nuclear Family, and all that goes with it – Marriage and Children and Parenthood – into idols.
American Christians have done so to such a degree that anyone who is not part of such as family, anyone who is single or childless, is marginalized.
By the way, Facebook group SCCL posted a link to this same editorial (link to SCCL discussion thread). Unfortunately, many of the participants in the thread have chosen to take the editorial the wrong way – they think it’s rude, inappropriate, or weird to ask or expect Christians to make spiritual family (other believers) a priority to them, over their biological family, or in addition to.
The posters at SCCL clearly do not understand – you have people (such as me), with little to no biological family, and people such as myself (older singles with no kids) are side-lined, minimized, all by a church culture that hypes and deifies “the nuclear family,” children, and marriage.
I do not think a Christian should so prioritize his church that he ignores his biological family, but we have the opposite problem in many churches today – people who are widowed, never married, divorced, or childless are treated like trash, and their needs go unmet, because too many churches cater to the traditional family unit, something Jesus expressly forbid them from doing.
… American adults, according to (Link): a recent Barna study, are “most likely to point to their family as making up a significant part their personal identity.” Country and God come next. Christians are no exception; natural family has usurped God and his family as the primary identity marker for most church-goers.
Most of us prioritize our commitment to family above our commitment to the church. This is unfortunate, because the Bible offers us a different set of relational priorities.
….For instance, in Luke he [Jesus] says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (14:26).
While shocking to us, the meaning of Jesus’s statement in Luke would have been especially challenging to his first-century audience. Ancient Mediterranean society was a strong-group culture. The health and survival of the group took priority over the goals and desires of individual members. Loyalty to family constituted the most important relational virtue for persons in the New Testament world.
But following Jesus meant belonging to two families, a natural family and a faith family. Unlike his surrounding culture, what is most important to Jesus is faith family: “Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matt. 12:46–50).
….But both Scripture and Christian history reinforce the idea that the family of God should rank higher than natural family. Jesus did not primarily call individuals into a private relationship with him. He calls us to join a movement, to become part of a new family.
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage
(Link): Christian ‘Married People’ Privilege – Most Marrieds Remain Amazingly Blinded to Christian Discrimination Against Singles Or Write Unmarrieds’ Concerns Off, As Though They Are Nothing Compared to Marriage/ Parenting.
(Link): Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church? by Gina Dalfonzo
(Link): How Christians Have Failed on Teaching Maturity and Morality Vis A Vis Marriage / Parenthood – Used as Markers of Maturity Or Assumed to be Sanctifiers – Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified