Videos About Family Idolatry by Christians / Desiring Marriage is NOT Idolatry

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.

Continue reading “Videos About Family Idolatry by Christians / Desiring Marriage is NOT Idolatry”

Confronting the Idolatry of Family by Janet Fishburn

Confronting the Idolatry of Family by Janet Fishburn

Apparently this book was first published in 1991 (or 1990?) but can be read online (or portions thereof) at one or more of the follow sites:

(Link): Confronting the Idolatry of Family: A New Vision for the Household of God by Janet Fishburn – hosted on “religion online”

(Link): Confronting the Idolatry of Family (PDF)

From religion online (please visit their site for a complete list of the links. Below is a partial list.):

Janet Fishburn is Professor of Teaching Ministry at Drew University Theological School in Madison, New Jersey. This book was published by Abingdon Press, Nashville (1991). This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

(Link): Prologue: Protestant Ideals and Historical Realities
This Prologue summarizes the book. There are three parts: Part 1 is an analysis of the origins of current attitudes about church and family. Part 2 is a discussion of the way values often believed to be “God-given and biblical” are related to the values of the American Dream. In Part 3, describes the role of church leaders in planning educational programs that are supportive of members of traditional and nontraditional families, but not dependent on “the Christian home” as the primary agency of Christian spiritual formation.

(Link): Chapter 1: The Church in Domestic Captivity
Americans tend to uncritically identify loyalty to family with loyalty to church. Congregations in which loyalty to church and family are virtually synonymous are engaged in an American form of religious familism.

Chapter 2: “The Family Pew” and the Church Today
This chapter is about the way “the family pew” ethos affects program planning and leadership roles in congregations. If family loyalty controls the events that matter most in the life of a congregation, the faith commitments of that congregation are misplaced. If love of family is stronger and deeper than love for Jesus Christ, this is family idolatry.

(Link): Chapter 3: The Effect of Family Idolatry on a Congregation
The focus on ministry as spiritual direction requires the pastor to become the servant of all, the person who enables the ministry of every other member of the congregation. To accomplish this objective would require a redistribution of work in most congregations. In that process, both pastor and congregation will find that their understanding of the nature and mission of the church is changing.

(Link): Chapter 4: A Biblical Critique of Family Idolatry
The habit of associating biblical concepts like the Providence of God and the election of Israel with a nation and Protestant Christianity has greatly influenced the way American Protestants regard the nations of the world, the church, their families, and themselves.

(Link): Chapter 5: The Christian Life, Spirituality, and Sexuality
Where the longing for God is satisfied, human sexuality is enriched because spiritual discipline gives form and direction to desire. The mystery of sexual union is heightened for partners who love each other in Christ.” Conversely, exaggerated or compulsive love of any kind is a sign of alienation from God, of a lack of spiritual direction.

Continue reading “Confronting the Idolatry of Family by Janet Fishburn”

What Christians Can Learn From Bob the Tomato Re: Being Unmarried and Childfree / Childless

What Christians Can Learn From Bob the Tomato Re: Being Unmarried and Childfree / Childless

I was watching the kid show “Veggie Tales” this morning. I’ve seen a few episodes before.

They seem to end most episodes by having Bob the Tomato tell the viewer something like,

“Remember, God loves you very much, and you are very special to Him.”

Bob the tomato
Bob the tomato
I think, in a way, it’s sad I get more validation out of a kid’s show than I do from materials by Christian adults for Christian adults.

I sure as heck don’t get told often by most Christians that I, never-married and childfree in my 40s, am special and loved by God.

I have to sit through and endure multitudes of Christian content that gives the impression that if I have not achieved a very set of narrow lifestyle milestones, such as marriage and parenthood, and have not done so by a certain age, I am a failure, or not as important.

None of which is to say I totally agree with every message I’ve heard conveyed in “Veggie Tales.” I once sat through a show where they told kids to be really nice to bullies.

Without going into too much detail, I just wanted to say that is the incorrect message to send. Christ does not call His followers to be doormats and passively take abuse off anyone- He sure as heck did not. You need to teach your kids to stand up to bullies even if it comes to applying physical blows.

Seriously. If your kids don’t stand up to idiots now, it will hurt them later. And secondly, most bullies don’t respond to anything less than a punch to the face or a severe verbal smack down. But Christian shows for children frequently encourage kids to be passive, wimpy doormats in the face of bullying and abuse. Before He went to the cross, Jesus took nothin’ from nobody – and we are to follow His lead on how to deal with jerks.

But I digress.

Hmm. I bet if I got pregnant out of wedlock, then walked into a church and said I was considering an abortion, I’d get all manner of support, help, and encouragement.

I should shove a big pillow under a shirt and try that experiment some time: claim to be pregnant and unmarried, considering abortion, and watch as the pastor and members fall all over themselves to offer me money, shelter, compassion, and assistance.

Thanks to Bob the Tomato for reminding me that God values and loves me, whether I am married, single, a parent or not.

I had to get this message that God loves me no matter what from a cartoon tomato because most churches and Christian publications won’t convey it.

Population Decline and Bay-bee Obsession – Patriarchy, Quiverfull, Traditional Family, Christian Gender Complementarian Nuts

Population Decline and Bay-bee Obsession – Patriarchy, Quiverfull, Traditional Family, Christian Gender Complementarian Nuts

More links to be added about this issue to this post as I find them. As this post has already gotten quite long, thanks to the excerpts, I will be making a Part 2, Part 3, etc, to include new links as I find them.

This Part 1 post is an anchor, though. This is probably the post I will direct people to when they want to gripe with me about this.

DISCLAIMER.

I am not necessarily in agreement with all opinions on all pages I link to, or with all views held by individuals or the organizations by blogs and sites I link to. (I may agree 100% with one of their pages but be in total opposition to other pages on the same site.)

FURTHER DISCLAIMERS.

I am not into global warming or environmentalism.

I am not left wing, liberal, progressive, or Democrat. Since my teen years, I have been right wing, conservative, and a Republican, but as I grow older, I am becoming disenchanted with aspects of the right wing (but still continue to disagree with the left wing on most topics).

I do not agree with or support abortion or homosexuality or legalization of homosexual marriage. Some of the pages I have found which refute many of the “be fruitful and multiply” arguments of conservative Christians are by people claiming to be Christians who are sympathetic to homosexuality or who support homosexuality.

I do not support homosexuality but some of their pages (aside from the pro-homosexuality propaganda) make some decent points against the un-biblical fixation some Christians have on “traditional family” rhetoric and their tendency to apply the “be fruitful” verse as supposedly being applicable to all Christians in all eras.

— THE LINKS—

The people behind this site appear to support homosexuality, but they make some very good points on this page:

(Link): The Family Idol

Perhaps the ugliest idol that we see today is the so-called “traditional family.” This idol is widely worshiped in the conservative factions of most religions. It should be obvious to its worshippers that it is an idol when these people see agreement between groups who have traditionally held opposing theological viewpoints. There are Roman Catholics and die-hard Evangelicals who are joining together to worship this idol. Muslim and Christian fundamentalists alike bow at its feet, all the time, pretending to be the true followers of their religion. While they cannot agree on the real tenets of their true religion, they find remarkable agreement in the false religion of “family values.”

The reason that the family idol is so particularly heinous is because it cloaks its emptiness and poison under the “gold-leaf” facade of respectability, social responsibility, and “proper” religion. Like almost no other modern idol, this idol pretends to be True G-d, while it is in fact a golden calf. In order to distract its worshipers from the truth, it points to sexuality and calls “perversion” the “golden calf.”

This idol has established itself firmly on the altars of most churches. It is so clearly cemented in the Free Church denominations (Evangelicals, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.) that whole campaigns are built around it. Holding the Scriptures in its hand, the family idol cloaks itself as the “word of G-d,” leading its devotees to forget about the Incarnate Christ and the message of love. “Family values” replaces “Christ is risen” as the primary hymn of this religion.

In other circles the idol is less blatant and perhaps less well noted. In the Anglican, Protestant, and Reformed churches, the idol prefers to set itself somewhat inconspicuously on the round tables of committees rather than on the central altar. While these groups often abhor the blatant bigotry of the “family values” charlatans, they nonetheless give the idol voice and vote on their committees and hold back truth and honesty in its name.

… The family idol spreads its immorality very insidiously among all segments of the population. Most obvious, of course, are the many Christians who have given up the Gospel Message to worship the family. Sadly, these former Christians may not even recognize their change in religion.

…Confused by the lies of worshipers of the family idol, many people who do not fit its narrow definition of “family” turn away from G-d and religion altogether.

…The symptoms of the family idol’s worship are very strange. It causes the equation of a heterosexual, dual-parent, child-raising family with some sort of moral ideal.

These groups do great harm to the people who do not fit their narrow concepts. They also draw people away from G-d because they present a false image of G-d. They present a hateful, narrow-minded, bigoted God that no sane person would want to love. Their self-defined “family” is their idol, their politics is their idolatry, and their actions are immorality in the clearest sense of what the Bible describes as such.

(Link): Rethinking Vision Forum

– many resources here refuting or exposing baby obsession, population decline scare arguments, strict/ sexist (gender complementarian) views, pressuring women to marry too early, etc.

From that blog:

(Link): Doug Phillips on the Threat of Population Decline

[Excerpts from the page “Doug Phillips on the Threat of Population Decline”]:

Phillips sets up a dichotomy here: If you don’t want more children (or any at all), you are selfish; if you have multiple children, most especially 6, 8, 10, or more from the looks of the pictures featured on the Baby Conference website, you are following God’s commands. It’s easy to see how susceptible people can fall prey to Phillips’ teachings and to the rhetoric of the Quiverfull movement.

The trouble is of course that choosing to have only one or two children, or even none, does not mean one is automatically “selfish.” There are all sorts of ways to give back to the world and to those around us, to work to make the world a better place, outside of having children. Furthermore, wanting to give each child the best we can, or to raise children with economic security, is not selfish.

On the contrary, because we live in a country that uses exorbitant amount of finite resources, every additional child we have leads to additional environmental strain and potential for resource wars or economic problems down the road. Choosing to have six or eight children, then, is not somehow being “selfless” when it comes to our environment, economy, or the world. Further, choosing to have that many children might mean, for some, raising children in poverty and on the edge of economic disaster. I don’t see this as being very “selfless” either.

Here we also see the tendency of Christian Patriarchy groups to advocate a one-size-fits-all model for families. The truth is, every family is different, with different needs and different challenges. The idea that every family should start having child after child in order to “follow God’s command” and not be “selfish” is stifling and restricting. It’s also environmentally dangerous for several reasons.

Not unexpectedly, Phillips rejects the idea that a continually expanding population could lead to environmental catastrophe or resource wars or food shortages. Why? Because (a) God told us to be fruitful and multiply, not to be fruitful and multiply until there are enough people

Continue reading “Population Decline and Bay-bee Obsession – Patriarchy, Quiverfull, Traditional Family, Christian Gender Complementarian Nuts”

Creepy: ‘Barna: [Christian] Women Value Family Over Faith’

Creepy: ‘Barna: [Christian] Women Value Family Over Faith’

Jesus Christ said:

    “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)

It looks like this teaching of Christ’s keeps falling on deaf ears, at least among Americans who profess to be Christians.

What happens when American Christian conservative culture and denominations place an unbiblical fixation on marriage and procreation? Something like this (among other fall out):

(LINK): Barna: Women Value Family Over Faith [study was released in August 2012]

    In the second of a four-part series studying Christian women, the Barna Group released survey results at the end of last week showing that, of women who have attended a regular church service in the last six months, more than half said their family was their highest priority in life. Sixteen percent said faith was most important, followed by health, career, and living a comfortable lifestyle.

    Sixty-two percent of women polled said their most important role in life was being a parent, followed by 13 percent who said their most important role was being a follower of Christ.

    …The study also found that 75 percent of Christian women were “heavily influenced” by the Bible, followed closely by the influence of their husbands (63 percent). Only 30 percent said they were influenced by the media.

    Read the full report (LINK): here [from the Christian Post]; author: Jeff Schapiro.

Excerpts from Christian Post:

    The study, titled “What Women Want,” is the second in a four-part series by the Barna Group on “Christian Women Today.” The study was conducted by surveying 603 adult Christian women throughout the U.S. who have attended a regular church service in the last six months.

    Over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said their family was their top priority in life, while only 16 percent said faith was most important. Another nine percent of Christian women said their top priority was their health, five percent said it was their career performance and another five percent said it was living a comfortable lifestyle.

    When Christian women were asked about what they felt was their most important role in life, the results were similar to their priorities. The majority (62 percent) said their most important role was being a parent, and only 13 percent said their most important role was being a follower of Christ.

    David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, said in a statement that some might assume that the research means woman have made their families into “idols” and set them above their relationships with Jesus. Others might view it as a “false choice” women have to make between their families and their faith.

Have we made an idol of families? (copy)

Have we made an idol of families?, by Andy Stirrup [Book Reviews] | published June 6, 2011

Source:

growingfaith.com.au/entertainment/have-we-made-an-idol-of-families

    by Andy Stirrup
    Published: June 6, 2011

    ‘How can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?’

    In Sex and the Single Savior, Dale Martin asks an important question: have we made an idol of families? Our knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘‘Of course not’. But Martin reminds us that sometimes we cling to theologically-phrased excuses for what we do, rather than examine what the Bible actually says. When it comes to the importance we attribute to the family (in conversation at least, even though our practice may undermine our ‘theology’), Martin asks how can we idealise marriage and the nuclear family while clinging to a saviour who was unmarried and without issue?

    The book brings together a number of Martin’s previously published articles to get to grips with a number of issues that have to do with gender and sexuality. He examines what classical and early Christian writers would have understood by the Galatians passage which referes to there being no male and female in Christ. He discusses how odd Jesus’ celibacy would have appeared to his contemporaries. But the most provocative chapter, as far as the family is concerned, is the eighth chapter, ‘Familiar Idolatry and the Christian Case against Marriage’.

    Martin begins the chapter with a bold announcement that mainstream Western Christianity (Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative) has made an idol of marriage and the family. It is a strong claim but we would have to agree with him that those who do not fit the nuclear family ‘ideal’ usually find themselves on the fringes of church life. Martin supports his claim by turning both to the New Testament and to the writings of the early Church. He suggests that the early Church was culturally much closer to the New Testament period and so they are better placed to understand the intention of the Biblical texts than modern theologians.

    Continue reading “Have we made an idol of families? (copy)”

If your sermon or program supposedly benefits everyone… (post about Christian singlehood)

I was looking for more material about Christian singleness when I found this video:

“How Does Our Church Host a 607 Experience Without alienating Singles, Grandparents, or those without Children?”
(The URL is: http://d6family.com/607/experience/howdoiuseit#howdo )

Edit. Aug 2014. That URL no longer works, they removed the video. You can still view it here: Video Link, Vimeo

I have no idea what the “607 Experience” is, as I did not watch every single video on the page, but from the one I watched, I gather it is yet some other family-centric event for churches to host for nuclear families (nuclear family = typical 1950s American family consisting of husband, wife, one or two kids).

The male host of the video says he recognizes that some Christians may be worried that his “607 Experience” may make singles or MWKS (married couples without kids / children) feel alienated…

But, he feels this program will still be beneficial to singles and MWKS, since it covers topics like how to pray effectively, or some such.

He’s not the first Christian I’ve seen use this tactic. I’ve seen other Christians or pastors say, “Well, my sermon series on marriage may make the never-married and divorced feel alienated, but you should not feel that way you unmarried people, because you can still find information in this series for use in your life!”

Is that so? Well then, what is the point in billing such series or sermons as “for the family,” or putting “marriage” or “parenting” in the titles of these events? If the material can be applicable to all (such as offering suggestions on how to pray better or some other generic, Christian topic) why not title the event, “How to have a better prayer life”?

My second question and concern is, what does this church or Christian group do for singles specifically? In other words, is there a “608 Experience” that is geared only towards the NMNKs (never- married with no kids), where this same man from the “607” video would tell married with kid couples, “But please, don’t feel alienated you married people! Even though you are married with kids, our service for singles can still be of benefit to you!” If this church (or group) is not devoting equal time to singles, then their “607 Experience” is wrong, wrong, wrong, and yes, it will alienate the unmarried and other individuals who don’t meet the “married with kids” demographic.

Forget married couples with kids – the real danger today is for the unmarried Christian. Screw the Christian married couples; it’s singles who need the church’s help and attention. Even secular society discriminates or ignores singles.

The male host of the video said he simply suggests pastors who host a 607 to “just put the elephant in the room right out there.” Just be up front and tell your never-married and divorced or Married- with- no- kids couples that the service will be devoted to marrieds with kids, he advises.

Wouldn’t that be a little like a white Christian host saying on a video for pastors,
“Our series will only focus on how great white people are, and teach people more about white people,” and then telling the pastor,
“But see, that’s okay, because you’re being up-front with, and transparent about, your prejudice.

Therefore, I’m sure any Black, Hispanic, and Asian Christians in your church will be fine and dandy with being so blatantly excluded YET AGAIN. I mean, surely they must agree that white Christian people are under attack by secular society, so I’m sure they’ll be okay and so very understanding with the needs and problems of Asian, Black, and Hispanic Christians being shoved aside, YET AGAIN.”

I swear to goodness the American church is almost completely oblivious to how badly they are excluding people (specifically, never- married people over 35 years old, the divorced, people with no kids, and the elderly) and giving Christianity a black eye to so many people, with the continual insistence upon the self-serving fixation on “marriage and parenting, marriage and parenting, marriage and parenting” mantra.
———————
Related posts this blog:

(Link): The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon” line

Never Married 38 Year Old Christian Guy Wants to Know Why Churches Treat Him Like a Freak

Click the “more” link below to read the rest of the post

I totally related to this guy’s question. A guy calling himself “John” wrote in to the Christian television show “The 700 Club” and asked the hosts a question about why, as a 38- year- old, never- married man, so many churches have rejected him (or left him feeling rejected).

I’m just a few years older than John is, though I am a woman. I have never been married, but I wanted to be. I don’t know why I’m not married.

I have to disagree with host Pat Robertson’s reply – Robertson tells the guy, John, that the rejection is all in his head and that churches do not “reject” older singles. WRONG!

The letter writer, John, may not be “rejected” per se by churches, but most churches, and many Christians, do treat single or never- married Christians over the age of 35 and 40 differently – and that in a negative fashion.

We older, never married (single) Christians are either ignored by churches, or most Christians and churches assume that everyone over 25 years old is married with kids, or, they assume if you’re 40, you have been divorced at some stage – (wrong again, I’ve never been married).

Some Christians (the married ones) let loose with the gossip and slander against the older singles…. they assume if you’re over 35 and never married, you are some how “flawed,” a weirdo, or homosexual (none of that is true, either).

Here is a partial transcript from today’s show:
Continue reading “Never Married 38 Year Old Christian Guy Wants to Know Why Churches Treat Him Like a Freak”

Annoying: Some Married Women Including Some Infertile Ones

Annoying: Some Married Women Including Some Infertile Ones

As I was saying in a previous post, I do try to be sensitive to other people’s problems, but my patience gets tried at times.

I get quickly irritated by married women who are very vocal and extremely emotional about wanting to be mothers, and yet they cannot get pregnant.

These married women should, in my opinion, feel grateful that they are at least married, but they complain and weep bitterly on other people’s blogs, forums, and on TV shows that they cannot get pregnant.

I never hear infertile, married women express the sentiment that “I feel glad that I at least I have a husband.”

Continue reading “Annoying: Some Married Women Including Some Infertile Ones”