With Relationship vs. Purpose: How the Church Destroys the Christian Family, Bojidar Marinov goes over the effeminate church’s destruction of the family (and thus, the family, period)
Years ago, an American Reformed missionary in Europe complained to me that in the church he had planted, there was only one family.
“Well,” I said, “why don’t you encourage the single ones to marry.”
“It wouldn’t work,” he replied grimly, “they are mostly women. They don’t need my encouragement. But there are no men available. Men sometimes would come to the meetings but they don’t stay for long. And the few men we have are not interested in marriage.”
I can think of only one solution to a problem in the church: the pastor should preach the Biblical solution to it. “May be you should start preaching and teaching on the family. Thus you will encourage the men to marry, and have families and children, and become responsible adults.”
“I do,” he said. “I preach and teach on the family all the time. I teach on the relationships between husbands and wives, between parents and children, I preach on what a wonderful gift the family is, I preach on how God blesses families.”
“Hmmm,” I said, “the relationships stuff will attract and encourage mostly women. But what about what attracts the men? Do you preach and teach purpose, what the family is created for? Do you teach the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, have many children and through them take over the culture? Do you teach and preach on the educational function and purpose of the family; teaching the children in the Lord? Do you teach them the purpose of the family as God’s institution for economic decisions and action? Do you teach them on the fathers as protectors and conquerors? Do you teach them on the function of the family as a welfare agency, the only institution ordained by God to take care of the poor and the needy?”
In our conversation, it turned out he didn’t teach those things.
[Snipped the list that said Reformed missionary did believe in, which was amazingly close to what a good agnostic liberal from 1960s onward believed — minus the homosexuality, of course.]
“I believe,” he said, “that we shouldn’t try to scare people with legalistic requirements about what they should do as families. We first need to show them the beauty of the family as a relationship; a place where people find God’s love and comfort, and where God comes to take care of them as their loving Father. When we do that, and we have families, then we will be able to teach them further about their obligations.”
In other words, he took away all the reasons why the family should exist in the first place, and then try to recreate it without purpose and meaning.
And then he wonders that men are not excited by such picture of the family and are not coming to his church; and those that are in, are not excited about having families. His explanation was that the men in that nation are very immature, and that’s why they do not fall for his view of the family.
He never even stopped to consider my words: That such talk about relationships, beauty, comfort, being cared for, etc., may be exciting for women but not so exciting for men. I bet he never even thought about the fact that there may be a direct correlation between his priorities and his preaching in relation to the family, and the gender ratio in his church.
Amen, and amen!
And with Christian Culture vs. Clan Culture, Marinov goes over the temptation to overemphasise the Family as opposed and over the State and the Church:
In our day in America, the danger of statism is obvious to all Christians, and the historical memory of a church that overstepped its boundaries is quite fresh. What is lost is the historical memory of the pagan character of the family/folk culture, which the early church had to battle and vanquish, in order to build a Christian culture. If Wyclif lived today, with his temperament, he would have probably swung the pendulum far to the side of the family, advocating family/folk culture as the solution to the social evils of our day.
And he would have been disastrously wrong, just as he was disastrously wrong more than 600 years ago.
[Note: at that time, Wycliff was insistign on a State-owned Church. He was insisting
“If the church fail in its duty, the temporal lords may rightly and lawfully deprive it of its temporal possessions; the judgment of such failure lying not with the theologian but with the civil politician.”
As if the Church was the property of the State – you know, as any and all atheists & secularists will insist. “The superior authority taxes the inferior authority, after all, and wealthy leaders with guns and mass support trump any bather about Divine Justice and Holy Commandments every day of the week!”
As we all know, there can be only One True Lord over our lives… and the State is a very jealous god, indeed…]
But we don’t need Wyclif today to give us an example of overreacting due to overzealousness. We have Christians in our own time who look to the family as the institution which, if emphasized as the foundation and the center of our culture, will help us restore the cultural values we have lost in the last two centuries. The extended family, that is, as it is imagined to have existed before the Industrial Revolution took its toll on it.
One of these Christians is Israel Wayne. His views on the importance of the family/folk culture as the supposed “Biblical” alternative to the modern popular culture can be found in his article, “Family Culture vs. Pop Culture.” I hate to have to criticize Israel, for I know he is a crystal pure character compared to me, a much better Christian in all respects, and a man I would be glad to give my life for. Unlike some other Christian authors I criticize, I can safely vouch for Israel that he is honest and sincere. But Israel is wrong in this article, his theology is going in the wrong direction, and I have the obligation to correct him as a brother, for his theology, if developed, will create monsters, just as Wyclif’s theology would have created monsters if God allowed it to develop. And unfortunately, Israel is not alone. Many more Christians have bought into the cult of the patriarchal family culture, mistaking it for a Christian culture. A Christian culture it surely isn’t; to the contrary, it’s origins are decidedly pagan. And in order to build a Christian culture, we need to understand the true nature of the family/folk culture, and understand how it differs from the Christian culture.
Before I get to the theological analysis of that view, a few logical and factological problems with Israel’s article must be pointed out.
First, of course, he typed his article on a keyboard, and published it on an Internet site. He didn’t scratch it on birch bark to read it to his uncles and aunts and gramps and nieces. This should be enough to show how much he values that old lifestyle.
Second, he admits that this new “pop culture” has given us a lot of good economic “time-saving” resources which the old family culture couldn’t produce. One wonders how is it that “accountability, resourcefulness, and creativity” failed to produce such good things, while “spending aimlessly and consumerism” could produce them. I mean, he may be right about the imagined values of the old culture but what exactly did those values produce, so that we know that they indeed existed in the old family culture?
A.K.A.: Results matter. That’s true today, as most countrymen with any get-up-and-go have got-up-and-went to the city… the Church-abandoned city, where said country people will naturally pick up and follow liberal/atheistic ways of thinking.
And so it is, when Christians decide to hide, instead of deciding to lead.
Third, Israel needs to learn some history. The breakdown of that old clannish culture happened much earlier than the Industrial Revolution or the War Between the States. It happened as early as the 1500s in Calvinist Netherlands, and then in Calvinist Scotland, and in Protestant England, and in Puritan New England, when those men, armed with the new doctrines of Calvin, went out to the ships to traverse the oceans and trade extensively in order to increase their own wealth and the wealth of others, as all Reformed confessions and catechisms required. The same impulse of leaving your extended family to follow the call of God was present in 1620 among those settlers who landed in Massachusetts from Mayflower. The breakdown was under way when the sons of these first settlers refused to abide by the rules of the old towns, took their brides and moved west to settle new lands. It was happening between 1680 and 1870 when millions of young men – Christian men, not pop culture deadheads – led their Conestoga wagons through the Cumberland Gap, across the Plains, and all the way to Columbia River. That breakdown was in action when the original 300 families of Texas left the security of the valleys in the East and challenged the scorching Texas sun, the Comanches, and the Mexican government. It was the wilderness in the West, not the factories in the East, that destroyed Israel’s idyllic world. The Western Frontier broke extended families much faster and more effectively than anything the Eastern industry could offer.
To go forth and conquer, you can’t have a clan-based society. You need mobile nuclear families, where the sons leave their father’s house, and their wives their mothers – as demanded in Genesis, by the way. “You could look it up.”
Fourth, Israel should keep in mind that the claim that the Industrial Revolution broke families is monstrously fallacious. Rural England remained demographically stagnant for centuries; it was the Industrial Revolution that created an unprecedented population boom, and that boom was in the cities, not in the countryside! Contrary to the modern perceptions, it was the British industrial workers who valued family more than anything else and married young and had many children. It was the British industrial workers who were the largest audience of preachers like Charles Spurgeon, leading Friedrich Engels to admit that of all men it was Spurgeon he hated the most. The countryside was lagging behind the cities, both in weddings and in procreation. Israel needs to learn his history before he makes his claims. Not only didn’t the Industrial Revolution destroy the Christian family, to the contrary, it gave it a boost stronger than any other social factor since the 1st century AD.
Very interesting information, that even in the 19th century the cities were much more interested in the gospel than the countryside. It’s even true today, in the UK: there are far more Christian holdouts in London than elsewhere in the country.
I wonder if the American Christian Church will reach for the commanding heights of the cities, instead of hiding fearful and poor in the countryside.
And fifth, Israel’s description of the “women’s liberation” movement is rather shallow, and it doesn’t even touch the true nature and reasons of feminism. The truth is, feminism wasn’t a reaction against the Christian order for the family, and its goal wasn’t to get the woman to the job market. Feminism was a reaction against the quasi-patriarchal order established on the ideas of the Enlightenment. Yes, you read that correct: The Enlightenment created a patriarchal order which kept the woman in the home and deprived her of the ability to apply her gifts and skills in the society. The women’s liberation movement was a reaction against this patriarchal order; and the reason it went in the wrong direction was that the Christians weren’t there to lead the charge against that patriarchal order. R.J. Rushdoony explains the problem in his Institutes, Chapter 7, pp. 349-353.
Things Our Masters don’t care to talk about: “It’s off-message, you know!”
But let’s get to the theological problems in Israel’s thinking.
To start with, Israel seems to have problems understanding the Biblical view of culture. His view of culture is tribal; he says that culture is “the accumulative sum of the beliefs and values of a people-group.” The central point here is the “people-group,” and that’s why Israel can speak of a “folk culture,” a culture that has something to do with the genetic proximity of people. The beliefs and values are secondary, since he talks about the “accumulative sum,” without really stopping to think that one can not “accumulate” just any kinds of beliefs and values. Such definition of culture is essentially materialistic for it defines culture by material factors (people-group, folk) while the spiritual factors (beliefs and values) are simply lumped together into an amorphous mass called “culture.”
This view is absolutely contrary to the Reformed view of culture. The Reformed view was summarized beautifully by Henry Van Til in his book, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture: “Culture is religion externalized.” From beginning to end, culture is the product of a faith statement. We all act according to ultimate beliefs, no matter what our family connections are, and no matter what our genetics is. The culture we build comes not from our “folk” or our “people-group” but from our fundamental beliefs about God. Different religions means different cultures, even if the people come from the same “folk.” That’s why in Israel a family-member was divorced or disinherited and turned over to the authorities in case of idolatry; he was of a different culture now. The same religion means the same culture, even if the family origin is different. That’s why Salmon could marry a Canaanite, and Boaz could marry a Moabite: By placing their faith in God, Rahab and Ruth were now of the Hebrew culture.
The tribal days are dead, except in the Middle East and Africa. We should drive it out of Christian Africa, so such murderous, accursed and backward attitudes can be left to fester in places that deny Christ’s Kingship, and so by definition despise God.
In any case, the family is not a culture in itself, and can not be trusted at all times to provide a healthy culture; Jesus emphasized it many times (Matt. 8:21-22; 10:36; Luke 8:21; 14:26). Our Christian culture is not a family culture, it is a creedal culture, and the family has only a limited jurisdiction in it, just as the church and the state have limited jurisdictions. The family – extended or nuclear – must itself be judged by the creedal standards of the Christian faith, and if it falls short of them, its “culture” is just as destructive as are the cultures of statism or of churchism, and that culture must be rejected. The family/folk culture has no intrinsic value in itself, and more often than not in history the family/folk culture was pagan culture, vehemently opposed to Christ. (Read Fustel de Coulanges’s The Ancient City to learn about the pagan origins of the familistic-patriarchal social order.)
The Biblical social order is not based on the extended family. Romanticized descriptions like the following are not to be found in the Bible:
Imagine with me, if you can, a culture where you are surrounded with people who know and love you. There are parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents and even on occasion great-grandparents. Living, working, playing and worshiping with these loved-ones creates a wonderful sense of security and stability. You know who you are, to a great extent, because of your relationships with those of your surrounding family. Family can serve as a fixed reference point, linking you to geography and to the past in a way that no other friendship or community can.
Absolutely not. The only fixed reference point is the faith in God. The extended family isn’t, and is never mentioned as such. The Biblical family is always the nuclear family. The only family romantics in the Bible is the relationship between a man and a woman. Read the Song of Solomon. There are no uncles, cousins, and gramps there. The Bible is full of heroes who – much like those American settlers of old – left their extended families to settle in another land, and looked for their purpose and place under God in self-sufficiency and independence from their extended family connections.
Marinov here focus on the nuclear family… as God does. A list of men who left their clan at God’s command — from Noah to Abraham to David to Jesus — follows.
It may come as a surprise to some modern Christians, but not only the Bible is full of examples of people of faith leaving their extended families, the Law of God actually contains economic provisions for the break-up of the extended family. First, there is God’s promise to Israel to multiply them in the land (Deut. 30:5). Second, there is the system of inheritance which required that the land was divided between the covenant-keeping sons in a family (Deut. 21:15-17, see also R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 180; and Gary North, Inheritance and Dominion, Vol. 2, p. 592ff.). Third, there was the Jubilee regulation which prohibited the Israelites from selling permanently the family inheritance in the land; at the end of the 50-year period, the land had to return to the original owner (Lev. 25:13-17, 27:24). The combined economic effect of these three would mean that over time, the heirs of the original families would have grown in numbers to the point where the allotted land to each son would be insufficient to feed him and his wife and children.
God wants His People to be in the cities, where the power over a nation is to be gained.
And, He expects us to be VICTORIOUS when gaining authority over New York City and Tokyo, Cairo and Bombay.
The Word of God – explicit and implicit – makes it clear: forget the clan, go to the city, and conquer it’s rebellious spirit.
We have the tools need to build a vibrant, growing, dominant, excellent, compassionate, free, prosperous and just culture – and not the socialists, not the collectivists, not the perverts, not the atheists, and not the pagans.
Or are we supposed to just hide in the woods, bawling and murmuring and yapping away the ever-imminent Last Days and the ever-delayed Rapture, while the Muslims and the Secularists fight over who rules the West?
(I’d peg it at 80% that they’ll come up with a working alliance as they wipe out their mutual enemy…. IF a small minority of Muslims weren’t SO EAGER to kill people RIGHT NOW.
What happened to the typical smooth lies and sweet-talking deception that the smarter sort of God-Despisers are so well-known for? Why not weave pretty lies for 40 years or so, while quietly moving Islamic State/Brotherhood assets into military and police positions – and naturally decrying all opposition as “Islamophobia!”
Well, such is the way of the wicked. After all, if Hitler wasn’t such a murderous and short-sighted idiot, he could have had Germany master all Europe by 1950 — with the approval of the UK, France, Russia, and the US (or at least without any meaningful opposition)… and a lot more living young German men and intact wealth to build his 100-year or so Reich.
“But if you remove the delusions (and the thirst to kill), then you are essentially destroying the core of the religion. That’s as true for pro-abort Moderns as pro-head-chopping Muslims.”
And so it goes… and so it goes…)
Indeed, historically, family-and clan-centered societies have never exercised dominion. They have remained stagnant and have disappeared from history even if for a short time they have achieved military or technological successes. There isn’t much left of the old clan societies of Germans and Celts. The clannish-tribal structure of the Native American tribes not only made them powerless to oppose the Christendom’s nuclear families’s assault on the American West, it was also a source of constant internecine wars and acts of savageness and brutality of natives against natives that kept their population numbers and economic endeavors at very low levels. China, a stable civilization for several thousand years which made many of the technological discoveries that built the West, was exactly the same in 1911, socially and economically, as it had been 2,000 years before. Some clannish societies managed to survive for a longer period of time only because they gradually evolved into statist societies; for the natural evolution of a culture based on the extended family, see Fustel de Coulanges’s book, The Ancient City. Islam, after the initial conquests, also stagnated because it had nothing comparable to the Biblical Law but instead incorporated old tribal and patriarchal laws. The Ottoman Turks were able to continue their conquests only because their old tribal system evolved into a statist/collectivist system very early.
Clans fail, in the end. It’s a dead-end… often a very literal dead-end, as the endless violence in the Middle East demonstrates.
The only cultures that were able to exercise long-term dominion – geographical, scientific, technological, literary, educational – were the Old Testament Judaism and modern Christianity (and especially Protestant Christianity). They followed the Biblical model: nuclear families, united not by the extended family but by the institutional church (or the synagogue), in a creedal culture where the only fixed reference point is faith. Our modern industrial capitalism and economic globalization, with its unprecedented technological and economic growth, is not a force that developed independently of Christianity, neither is it a force hostile to Christendom and the Christian culture. To the contrary, it came as a direct result of Christianity and of the Biblical worldview. Industrial capitalism and global trade and communications are the Christian economic and social model, and they stand or fall with Christianity, not war against Christianity, contrary to Israel’s assumptions.
It isn’t about bloodlines. It’s about faith… and in which God you will have faith in, by public obedience and private submission, heart and soul and mind.
There is a good reason for the historical success of the nuclear families and the stagnation and decay of clannish societies. The nuclear family is oriented toward the future; the extended family is oriented toward the past. When the family is defined as only a man and a woman and their underage children, the purpose of the family and the whole life of the family is naturally focused on bringing up these children and making them independent of their parents so that some day they fulfill Genesis 2:23-24:
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Since the Biblical culture requires nuclear families as over against extended families, we should expect it to be focused on parents teaching their young children for the future, not on grown up adults trying to conserve the past by hanging around with their relatives. Indeed, the Book of Proverbs is all about a father teaching his young son how to prosper righteously as an independent man.
We must grow and prosper, and not dwell in the past.
The nuclear family is the Biblical standard, and our modern industrial capitalism is not only not hostile to the Biblical culture, it is itself a product of that Biblical culture, and in itself encourages righteous dominion by faithful Christian nuclear families. There is no spiritual value in returning to the imaginary idyll of playing family music on the porch with family-made instruments. That idyll never really existed in the first place (otherwise young men wouldn’t leave their homes to settle new lands), and as an ideal, it is stagnant, unproductive, past-oriented, and ultimately self-defeating. The obsession with the past is essentially a product of a pagan worldview, not of a Biblical worldview. The Biblical Christian forgets what lies behind and reaches forward, taking from the past only the faith of his spiritual family, that is, the Church, and not the beliefs of his extended family, the clan.
This was the legacy of the Early Church, and this is our legacy from the Reformation.
Keep your legacy, remember your inheritance, bless those who forged the way before you…
…but Keep On Pressing Forward!