Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Myth of the Christian Family

This post is a bit of a departure from the topic of education and parenting... and addresses a topic that I've been considering lately....

  How much teaching have you heard about having a Christian testimony?
  About living your daily witness? About your life showing others your faith? How our lives should look different than the ‘'world’s'. How our love, and integrity, and character and joy, and peace, should make the 'lost' long for what we have with God.

    If we are not careful, - it is much to easy to view your life, family, relationships as key representation to the core of all Christendom.

    After all, - we have Christ.- As a family. We do things differently. We go to church together, we have devotions. We try to put God first, in our lives, in our home. We pray for each other. We love each other. We are a Christian family.

  Despite the fact that in any group of Christians you will likely find a vast idea of HOW to accomplish it, - (home school/public school, skirts/pants, head coverings/current fashion, spanking/gentle parenting, debt/no debt, submission/partnership, and on and on...) There still seems to be some basic idea of the ultimate goal.

   This thinking seems to go like this; that in a chaotic, destructive, dangerous, immoral world, rife with confusion about right, wrong, faithfulness, truth and justice, and even the idea of what constitutes family, our strong, happy marriages are to be beacon of radiant harmony . Our healthy, well rounded, well educated children are to be leaders, in word and deed, our organized, peaceful homes, - a place of refuge for others, showing them the love of Christ.

These things aren’t just the goal, - they should be the natural results of a family living for God.
But what about when they aren’t?

What about when in 'good Christian families', - there is Anger.
Emotional Abuse.
Physical Abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Eating Disorders.

Spiritual Abuse.

   From what I have seen, the ‘lost heathen’ handle it a lot better than the church. They know these things happen; they don’t assume they will be exempt. The pain, the hurt, the sin of the fallen world; they open their arms and say, ‘I’m sorry. It hurts.’

   In the church, - we are uncomfortable enough with the indirect effects of sin in our imperfect, and sinful world. Miscarriage. Cancer. Freak accidents. Infertility. Hurricanes. Young military widows. Children that get sick and die. Though we are uncomfortable, these things we accept, as part and painful parcel of our fallen world. The families we comfort, (though often awkwardly) knowing it is pain that is ‘unavoidable’.

Direct affects of sin, it seems are a different story. 

 Especially if they disrupt the neat tidy image of a Christian family that we believe we ought to be.

   What church has not seen a family whose daughter got pregnant out of wedlock. A seemingly solid marriage suddenly dissolve. Children who leave home and ‘go crazy’ with self destructive choices. A man or woman who seems to for no apparent reason, abandon their spouse and children.

    Unfortunately, - in most cases, though we see the outward change, we are unaware of the years of inner decay that brought a family to this point. And let’s be honest. Would you want to know?

What would you do if you discovered a child in your church from a prominent family was being abused? If a husband asked you for help because he had a severe online gambling addiction. If a young mom you knew talked about taking her life?

    Don’t worry. This will probably never happen to you. – In most churches Christian families have learned to hide their pain, suck it up, put on a broken smile, trying every week to push harder, - work harder, - to BE the Christian family they want so desperately to be.
They feel guilt. – They know God!! They should KNOW how to fix this!
They feel shame. What kind of testimony is this?
What if they cause another Christian to stumble? How do they witness to others when their life is in shambles!!
They feel alone.

   In some cases no one is really surprised when the breakdown happens. There have been signs of the struggle. Sometimes help has been offered. Sometimes it has not. Either way, there is always lurking the temptation of the insidious comfort in listing the reasons that this must have happened to that family. All the more comforting if the things you feel they 'did wrong' are things about which you already disagreed. After all, - they allowed their kids to _____. They didn’t really  seem to care enough about _______.  They should have never ______. You always said they ______. 

  That list is the only thing that stands between you and the thought that tomorrow it could be you. Your parent. Your sibling. Your child. Your spouse. Your family.

  Whether there was any apparent warning or not, - it seems often there is an underlying theme.
The unspoken idea that ‘real’ Christian families do NOT have major problems.
That REAL Christian families KNOW the right thing, DO the right things, SAY the right things.
That SUCESSFUL Christian families OVERCOME each problem that comes their way.
That earthly victory is ALWAYS possible.

That the Christian family is the earthly picture of God’s ways in action, and anything less than pretty, sweet, unity is failure. If they fail, it must be their fault not God’s. They obviously weren’t the good Christians you thought,  or just confirmed your suspicions that they never really were.

The truth?
There is no such thing as a Christian family. – There are only earthly, broken, sinning, flawed families made up of flawed, imperfect, sinning, broken people. Some families are made up of people who happen to trust in Christ.

This doesn’t mean they are perfect.



   It means that WHEN there is pornography, adultery, affairs, lying, betrayal, abuse, chaos, lying, depression, addictions and all that comes with our sin filled world,- we have a choice.
We can choose to confront it.
We can choose to be honest.
We can choose to reject sin.
We can refuse to willingly accept harm from others.
We can choose to repent.
We can choose forgiveness and healing.
We can choose to respect ourselves, and know our value and worth.
We can choose to be courageous and know when to say 'no', 'enough', 'no more'.
We can be humble.
We can choose love.
We can do and say the hard things that allow us to be right with God, (and hopefully right with each other- but right for us regardless.)

   The key? We can only choose for ONE person. Me.

  The thing about Christianity is that it isn’t a group thing.

It is only my life, my choice, my love.
We can’t choose for anyone else, including our family.
Especially our family.
The hardest thing on the planet just may be seeing someone you love more than life hurt; and realize there is nothing you can do for them.

    I think there is a myth; the myth of the Christian family.

When there is hurt, pain, damage, and destruction in a life, and it affects a family it is painful. Devastating. Unbelievably hard.
It is even harder if for some reason we believe it isn’t supposed to happen.

That it can't happen; that as Christians we are exempt from certain things.

   That if by trying a little harder on OUR end, we can somehow change things for someone else.  If we just preach a little louder, or keep smiling and forgive and turn the other cheek one more time, or somehow just quietly love them enough,  that somehow everything will turn out ok.
 Sometimes everything is not ok.
 But you can be.

   A victorious Christian life doesn’t mean that everything around you is ok.
   It doesn't mean that everyone you love is ok.

  A victorious Christian life is ONE person who KNOWS how much their God loves them and loves him back, no matter what life brings.
 There is a God who knows YOU by name. Who cares how you feel and what you face. He knows your heart, he knows your frame, and his love for you will never change.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another... Galatians 6:4

 How have your family relationships impacted your walk with God?
This Present Mom,


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