Aug

28

2012

Kristin and Ted Kluck|10:00 PM CT

Worshiping at the Altar of Family

When visiting a number of Reformed churches in the last few months, we've noticed a significant trend. These churches are bursting with children---lots of biological children, of course, but also a good number of adopted and even foster kids. This is a great thing, all those kids, even if we are a little extra sensitive, due to our status as Dreaded Infertile Couple. But we've gotten used to this baby boom---the infant dedication/baptism/rose-on-the-piano acknowledgements, the romper-room-kindergarten-classroom atmosphere in the sanctuary, the baby showers. And lest we sound too much like curmudgeons, we assure you that God has helped to heal the pain of infertility through the adoptions of our two sons (and used those same two wiggly, loud, preciously infuriating boys to confirm that we were not, ever, meant to be parents of a huge family).

But perhaps this sensitivity to the "normal" family experience of marriage at 21 with five kids by age 30 (five is the new two) has given us some perspective that may have escaped the Normals. It came to me this Sunday while sitting behind a family with six or seven kids and listening to the pastor talk about the things we sacrifice to God's agenda. He was talking about how the disciples had ambition for the wrong thing---power in an earthly kingdom. He went on to apply that faulty expectation to misplaced ambitions in our lives: wealth, power, and fame. He clarified that these things are not inherently, incurably wrong, and some devoted Christians do indeed gain wealth, power, and fame. But he spoke of the lust for them, the chasing after them, the have-to-have-them, the sum-total-of-my-being, as being the problem. He quoted David Powlison: "good gifts, bad gods." True, powerful, and convicting words.

And it struck me that those examples---wealth, power, fame---are primarily idolized by men. Sure, women may want some of those things. But more often men fantasize about being the richest guy, the prodigy in their field, wielding power and influencing people, being known and respected. A family may support him off to the side, but he's longing for the accolades, the respect, the riches. But I found myself, while he described the feelings of idolatry---the sense that this is my whole life, this is what I live for, this is what I dream of, this is what completes me and gives me significance---thinking that, for me, this is family.

This stuff of many women's fantasies includes an adoring, faithful spouse; attractive, obedient kids; people who depend on you, love you, give you a reason to get out of bed, regularly stand up and sing your praises. And it is idolatry, just like money, power, and fame. It's the thing that causes the mom in your women's Bible study to post the 67th picture of her daughter's birthday party on Facebook. It's the reason for the magazine-quality family pictures all over the house. It's why the mother-of-the-bride obsesses about her daughter's wedding and treats it like a part-time job. It's (at least in part) why Christmas letters get sent and then end up making their recipients feel mad and competitive.

Gift or God?

What makes it even trickier and more confusing is the value the Bible places on family. It is the building block of a just and moral society. It is a hedge of protection for the traditionally vulnerable children and women. The Bible has much to say about the blessing of a godly spouse and a houseful of children and includes lots of good directives on how to keep those relationships healthy and godly. Parents are charged with the precious task of directing and guiding our children's hearts towards God, so it is easy to think of family as an unqualified good. "Family values" is practically synonymous with "orthodox Christian."

If so, then why do I feel so convicted, sometimes, about worshiping at the altar of family?

Isn't family still a gift, not a god? Isn't it still something that can be elevated into first place, which should be reserved for God alone? I think we see the problem in our reactions to the hardships of family life---fractured relationships with parents, wayward or difficult children, marriages that are anything less than Christian-movie quality. We take it personally. We feel somehow personally affronted or shafted by God, as though the Perfect Family were our birthright as Christians. And when I say "we," I mean "I." It's a personal battle, waged mostly silently by other families and friends.

Churches encourage our husbands daily to not make idols out of their careers, and to not look at porn. But how are we, as wives, encouraging and exhorting one another not to make idols out of perhaps our greatest gifts: our families?

Kristin Kluck is a caterer and the author of Saucy Broad: A Culinary Manifesto of Hope. Ted Kluck is the author of several books on topics ranging from Mike Tyson to the Emergent Church.

Categories: Christian Living
  • Kevin Subra

    As a father of 15 (yes, FIFTEEN), and a pastor, I believe you are right on. I have seen the elevation of family as *the* highest priority that can (and often does) circumvent God's planned use for the Church (and local gatherings of it), or that becomes an end in and of itself. Spot on.

    [Ever? It actually gets *easier* with more. ;>D]

    Blessings. Thanks!

  • http://fervanteffectiveprayer.wordpress.com/ Christy

    This morning I was feeling particularly convicted about identity, especially as a mom. At my stage, I have friends that are taking kids to college and whose kids are going to school for the very first time. If I'm not careful, the perceived (or actual) loss of a family member could rock my world for a long time. I used to worship at the altar of homeschooling. I believed the Lord led me to do it and when He asked me to stop, I did not. He took it. I was depressed for a year. A whole year, stolen.
    The point is, that this morning, the Lord was reminiding me that my identity is not my kids, it is IN HIM.

  • David

    Good point on the porn comparison.

    Men watch Hollywood love scenes and then are drawn to porn because their own love life looks nothing like the Hollywood standard, believing the lie that THIS is what true intimacy looks like. They objectify women. Yet, every time a women reads Cosmopolitan or watches a movie with the Hollywood family they realize that their own bodies and own families don't live up to the Hollywood standard. Every time they diet to look good or throw their kids an elaborate birthday party to post the pictures later on Facebook these women are also objectifying people... themselves and families. When these women live through the experiences of other lies on Facebook they are not satisfied and become jealous and more discontent, no different than the lack of satisfaction and increased discontented lust for the man viewing porn.

    My point is that we tend to give the women a pass because their idols are GOOD things. Sex is generally considered a taboo idol, but family and good marriages and health are all GOOD things, but objectifying these things and giving in to the temptation to conform them to the world's standard at any cost is no different than a man's issue with porn, it's believing a lie. Yes, the hurt that sexual sin causes is more urgent, but the gradual hurt of false expectations, sexual or not, end in the same result as sexual sin... discontent, bitterness and anger towards God. Because as Ted pointed out... the real issue is not God withholding entitlements but looking for validation and ultimate satisfaction in things He never promised... things that are in fact a lie. This is idolatry.

    • http://humblemusings.com Amy Scott

      Fantastic comment.

    • Sara

      Very well said. All in the church should be humbled, and take great caution.

      • Thomas

        My bad. As Ted & Kristen pointed out.

    • just some guy

      @ David - Ted & Kristin wrote this article.

  • Tim

    As a father of 4, all homeschooled and sent off, I have said similar things for years about the misaligned attitude about the Christian family. We have turned "Focus on the Family" to "Overfocus on the Family". Much more exists in our responsibilities in the Kingdom than just our family.

    • LG

      "Overfocus on the Family" made me snort into my drink. Great stuff.

  • Beth

    Yes, I agree about family being an idol. Because what happens when there is a family crisis? The husband has semi-public sin, and the wife must choose God's will or protect husband and family from 'damage'. If she chooses God's path she may lose her most precious asset - the perfect family. If she keeps the family for the sake of image, or earthly security, she loses joy. As a woman I believe God honors our 'weak' estate and that husbands in particular are protectors and providers. When they fail in that task, the church, as God's representative, should step in. Thank you to my church(FRBC).

    • JRP

      I agree with you here. I believe God honors our "weak" estate too. Husbands/Fathers should be protectors and providers. Mine certainly is :)
      We must always choose God's will. Sometimes that means choosing to follow God or having a relationship with a family member who has gone astray, living in sin, etc... We, of course, pray for that person and never give up. But we must live Biblical, God fearing lives regardless of what a family member may do or say or think about us.
      What matters is God and God alone in the end.

      • JCR

        Yes, we must be obedient to God, first and foremost,even before our families. I think that is the main message of this article. And it does not matter at the end of the day what others say about us, God truly knows our hearts. :)

        • JRP

          And that is why I have chosen to be obedient to God, no matter what. :) Yes, God does know my heart and I rejoice that He has given me a peace with where I am at in life. His way (the Bible believing, God fearing, honest living way) is best.
          Thankfully, my family has chosen that too and I think that's why we are so close; God has blessed us!

  • http://www.housewifetheologian.com Aimee Byrd

    Great article. I think a lot of this is also revealed in our Facebook behavior. We can rack up a perfect little cyber-reality of what we value--the image of the perfect family.

  • Big Ben

    I've often wondered and this is a genuine question. William Carey, the father of modern missions made an excellent missionary. But as a husband and father? First wife turned mad. Kids were neglected. Would it have been any comfort to them to know their father and husband was the great William Carey? Would this be akin to Abraham's sacrifice? Except that family really was sacrificed? I really have no answers. Sometimes I think to myself how much more I can accomplish for God if I were not fettered by family. No answers. Still struggling along. Still trying to manage the wife's expectations. Still trying hard to make ends meet. Still no time for God. Still wondering. Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere? Would it have been really better if I had sacrificed my family on the alter instead? Genuinely trying to figure these out.

  • Kylie

    I share pictures of my child on Facebook, and I'm really happy and grateful to have her. I love my spouse, and am grateful to have him. I have friends who pray for a marriage partner or to be ready for a marriage partner - I don't know that I see anything wrong with that. Allowing an obsession with anything to take over your life and turn you into a liar is a recipe for depression anyway, as another poster pointed out. I think we have to be careful of judging people as idolatrous or ungodly because they have been blessed with a nice family. Maybe they really do have a nice family - maybe its not all an act. I was not raised as a Christian though, so I don't know the pain of the "lets pretend we're perfect" thing. I more come from the "who gives a crap about family anymore" side of the fence, where we're all supposed to be modern, hip and uncommitted yet because we're still human and His creation we secretly long for family, community and God all the time.

    • Eleanor

      Kylie, i didn't take it that the author is against sharing pictures, or being blessed with a great family, or wanting a marriage partner, but rather "the sense that this is my whole life, that this is what I live for", as she says, which is what idolatry is.

    • Hal

      Thanks, Kylie, for offering some balance here. It seems like a pretty good stretch to compare the desires of women (wholesome storybook family) with the carnal lusts that drive the porn industry.

  • Holly

    Can definitely see both sides of this ... we are to be raising our children to be sold out for the Lord not just cause .... it is a fine line at times ... God put the desire to nurture and the desire for the very things you mentioned IN a woman and I get so tired of hearing men in the church bash that while they are hung up on power! ... it is a GOOD thing, just taken out of context or allowed to become the source of a woman's identity it is an issue.
    I don't think we can say that all families are worshipping at the altar of idolatry anymore than we can say all pastors neglect their families

  • Pingback: Kristin and Ted Kluck Write of the Familiolatry in the Modern Church « Old Testament Studies Blog

  • http://www.titus2atthewell.com Tiana @ Titus 2 At the Well

    I don't know. I do hear what you are saying...and it is certainly possible for women (or men) to make family and children an idol. That being said, I think families that welcome the blessing of children and take family discipleship seriously are the exception--not the rule--in American churches. Yes, you will find more in Reformed circles, but by and large, our ladies who are seeking to honor the LORD in their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers are being *discouraged* by the church (not to mention the world), not encouraged.

    Most of what passes as Christian "mommy" literature has very little biblical basis and is filled with secular humanism. Those who take Proverbs 31, Titus 2, etc, seriously often feel belittled or misunderstood by the Christian community. Assuming that women who have lots of babies and homeschool them are probably idolizing their families has the potential to feel like a slap in the face to these exhausted, lonely, often wounded women. I am not saying that this is your intention, but I would strongly urge caution and gentleness before making this kind of accusation.

    I think you will find--if you actually get to know these women--that, in most cases, their actions are based on Scriptural convictions. I'm sure there are some folks that are guilty of the idolatry of the family, but they are few and far between as compared to those who set aside God's precepts for family life in favor of the idols of modern American comfort and materialism.

    Many Blessings!

    • Hal Dixon

      In my experience as a pastor, the greater problem is Christian parents allowing, and encouraging, their kids to choose sports and other activities over church life. Not only do the children lose out, but they take their parents out of church with them. On the other hand, some of my most faithful, devoted members have been homeschool families. They and their children are dependable servants in all kinds of ministries, and they almost never choose sports or entertainment over church life.

    • Adam

      Tiana,

      I hear what you are saying, and I do think that we should not automatically assume that a person with many children is necessarily making marriage an idol. Still, I think you hit the nail on the head that this is really a problem within reformed circles. I think the problem is that we have grossly overreacted to the anti-family position of our culture, and have developed a theology of family that runs roughshod over the scriptures, and twists them through the lens of counterculturalism.

      As far as "take[ing] Proverbs 31, Titus 2, etc, seriously," I would also say that there is a lot of garbage written on the exegesis of those verses as well. Those verses can be read through countercultural lenses, just as much as any other verse can be read through any other lens. I take those verses seriously as well, but I don't believe that they have anything to do with how big a family you have, and I would say that a consistent exegesis of those passages bears that out. Be very careful about confusing your *interpretation* of a passage with taking the passage seriously. They *might* be the same thing, but, then again, they might not be.

      • http://www.titus2atthewell.com Tiana @ Titus 2 At the Well

        Adam,

        You're correct in saying that Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 do not have anything to say about how large a family one has. My point doesn't actually have much to do with family size--it was the author of this post who happened to bring that into the equation. There is plenty of Scriptural basis for allowing God to dictate the size of one's family--whether that be 2 kids or 12--and anyone, of any family size can make family an idol.

        My point was merely that strong convictions do not idolatry make. Our conviction is that children are blessings from God and that we will welcome as many as he chooses to bless us, in His timing. Our conviction is home education with an emphasis on discipleship. Our conviction is that my primary God-ordained ministry is in my home, serving Christ as I serve my husband and my children (and no, I don't believe you can explain Titus 2:3-5 away as "cultural"). Our conviction is that we attend a family integrated church, where our children worship with us (wiggles and all) instead of being shipped off to Sunday School, and where our elders take an interest in not only the discipleship of our children but also in equipping and holding us accountable for discipling them ourselves. Our conviction is that socialization is best done in multi-generational groups, so we fellowship with other believers as families, not as age-groups. Do those convictions make us "counter-cultural"? Yes. Do we do them for the purpose of being counter-cultural? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, those who follow Christ will look differently from the world, so we aren't surprised when he calls us to things that others find abnormal or distasteful.

        Again, I know there are super-extremists out there, but in a world that is actively working to destroy the family, it is very easy to mislabel as "extreme" those who are simply doing their best to live biblically orthodox family lives. If you read the Reformers and Puritans on family and child discipleship, most of them will sound extreme in light of current cultural sentiments.

        Blessings to you, brother. :)

        • Adam

          Tiana,

          There is plenty of Scriptural basis for allowing God to dictate the size of one's family--whether that be 2 kids or 12--and anyone, of any family size can make family an idol.

          I would be interested in knowing how God could *not* be allowed to dictate family size. God dictates everything that comes to pass. That is what Ephesians 1:11 says.

          My point was merely that strong convictions do not idolatry make. Our conviction is that children are blessings from God and that we will welcome as many as he chooses to bless us, in His timing.

          I guess my concern is, again, the notion that, if God wants to bless you with something, the eternal will and purpose of God is going to be frustrated by your actions. It also begs the question of passages like this:

          Proverbs 25:16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

          The notion of liminality with the blessings of God which is a major theme of the book of Proverbs.

          Our conviction is that my primary God-ordained ministry is in my home, serving Christ as I serve my husband and my children (and no, I don't believe you can explain Titus 2:3-5 away as "cultural").

          However, the context of Titus 2 is not ministry, but it is ethics. Look again at the context:

          Titus 2:4-5 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

          Are we to seriously suggest that it is only or even primarily the female's ministry to be sensible and pure? Are we to seriously suggest that it is only or even primarily the female's ministry to love their children? No, the issue here is the ethical behavior of women. Are they going to run around being gossips and busybodies, always poking their nose into other people's business, while ignoring their own work at home, and thus forcing their husbands and children to do all of it? Are they going to think only of themselves, and not have the kind of Godly love that a woman should have for her husband, etc.? That is why I say, the context of the passage seems to be ethical, and not related to ministry functions.

          Our conviction is that we attend a family integrated church, where our children worship with us (wiggles and all) instead of being shipped off to Sunday School, and where our elders take an interest in not only the discipleship of our children but also in equipping and holding us accountable for discipling them ourselves.

          You do realize that Sunday School is not held during church service in almost any church I am aware of that has Sunday School. My church has Sunday School, and it occurs *before* the church service. It also has youth group, and the youth ministry again occurs outside of the usual church service, usually after the evening service on Sunday. Parents and children are always together in the church service! Please understand that we are not saying these things. They are common caricatures of our position, but they are caricatures nonetheless.

          Do those convictions make us "counter-cultural"? Yes. Do we do them for the purpose of being counter-cultural? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, those who follow Christ will look differently from the world, so we aren't surprised when he calls us to things that others find abnormal or distasteful.

          Again, I know there are super-extremists out there, but in a world that is actively working to destroy the family, it is very easy to mislabel as "extreme" those who are simply doing their best to live biblically orthodox family lives. If you read the Reformers and Puritans on family and child discipleship, most of them will sound extreme in light of current cultural sentiments.

          Again, the standard has got to be the scriptures. As someone who is working towards a Phd in Hebrew and linguistics, and is almost finished with his masters degree, I do know the field of Biblical exegesis and interpretation, and I have major league concerns with the exegetical and hermeneutical methodologies used to arrive at this position. Also, when I see the attacks on the family today, and when I look at church history, and continuously see the church overreacting to cultural problems, I have to ask myself whether this is simply the church being different from the world, or whether this is the church overreacting to the world, and reading that overreaction back into the text.

          I also want to say, that I am not saying these things to "bash" anyone. I understand the temptation that positions like these hold in today's culture. I get tired of hearing the leftist garbage about large families and homemakers as well. However, I believe we have to be careful to not read our reaction to that back into the scriptures, as I believe this can become idolatry, even if unintentionally. That is why the scriptures are the standard in deciding these issues.

          Blessings to you too, sister!

          • Jennifer

            Adam, I'm not sure how many different churches you have experienced, but you may be surprised how many churches actually DO have their "Sunday School" classes (the last few churches didn't call it that, they're too "hip" and modern, sigh... it's called "children's ministry" but the same thing) during the worship service. Children are a "distraction" and are whisked away into "age-appropriate classes" since surely they won't get anything out of the sermon (ooops, they wouldn't call it a "sermon" either, it was the "message"). It may sound extreme and crazy to someone who has always been in a traditional church, but believe me, it seems to be becoming the norm, at least in most of the churches we have been to.

            As all of our viewpoints are coming from our own past experiences, I just wanted to mention that as it may help explain why some people seem to have such strong viewpoints for family integration and keeping the family together. When you have been pulled apart for 20 years and have had to fight to have your children sit next to you in church, you may come across as extreme to those who prefer to just go with the flow. But in all the families I have seen who are making their calling as parents a priority, I can honestly say I can only think of one off the top of my head that I can even see the possibility that it was idolatrous in any way - and even they have mellowed out now. I think we need to be very careful in passing judgment on others motives and status of idolatry and even in taking guilt upon ourselves because someone else suggests that family is becoming too important.

            • Adam

              Jennifer,

              I honestly have never seen Sunday School during the church service. I have, however, seen "Children's Church," which our church *does* reject, because it does forbid some people from hearing the preaching of the word of God. Still, I have never seen an example of "Sunday School" specifically going on during church. While I certainly cannot rule out the possibility of that going on anywhere, what we can say is that we can reject that particular position, and yet also reject the position of folks like Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham. It is that simple. That way, we take care of the problem, and don't create other problems.

              When you have been pulled apart for 20 years and have had to fight to have your children sit next to you in church, you may come across as extreme to those who prefer to just go with the flow.

              How did we go from children being able to sit with their parents in church service to the notion that there is something Biblical wrong with age specific discipleship? And do you not see that you are basically saying that your experience is causing you to read the scriptures in this particular way? I hope that if I were ever in your situation, that I would seek to react and respond Biblically, and not to respond by reading my bad experiences back into the scriptures.

              But in all the families I have seen who are making their calling as parents a priority, I can honestly say I can only think of one off the top of my head that I can even see the possibility that it was idolatrous in any way - and even they have mellowed out now.

              Of course, no one is arguing that parents should not make their calling as parents a priority. What we *are* saying is that this calling as parents needs to be defined *Biblically,* using consistent hermeneutics, and not something that comes from counterculturalism, bad experiences, or tradition.

              I think we need to be very careful in passing judgment on others motives and status of idolatry and even in taking guilt upon ourselves because someone else suggests that family is becoming too important.

              Good grief. The NCFIC video Divided equates our view with Darwinian evolution [even though Shawn Mathis has completely blown that apart historically], says that we are not following the "sufficiency of scripture," are engaging in pragmatism, and then you turn around and complain that we are questioning whether idolatry has something to do with all of these teachings? Those in glass houses should not throw bricks!

              Also, I am not responding on the basis of my experience alone. I have been dealing with this movement for a while, as has Shawn Mathis, Karen Campbell, et al, and I am taking my own observations as well as their observations, and coming to conclusions. Also, I am not saying you guys are doing this intentionally. I understand the temptation to exalt the family to the position of idol when it seems like everyone in the culture is disregarding it. I am sure I have my own blindspots as well, but our goal should be to go back to the scriptures, and to let them speak to these issues.

              Jennifer, I do feel bad about the experiences you have had in the church, and yes, if what you are saying is true, in those situations, things have to change. However, we must change on the basis of the scriptures, allowing them to define the limits of what is right and what is not right, and not bind things to people's consciences such as "you can't have Youth Group" or "You can't have Sunday School" just simply because of your experience. If we are Christians we must love the scriptures every bit as much [if not more] than our families, and the concern for the right handling of them in solving problems should be our first priority.

            • Jennifer

              I never said you can't have youth group or Sunday School - my children do participate in Sunday School - my point was simply that you may not be aware how common it is in churches these days to NOT have children in the services. I can say that the vast majority of the churches I have been to in the past 25 years have separated the children during the service. As in, at least 90%. This, of course, will vary depending on what types of churches one is visiting and, I'm guessing, areas of the country - but you statement that Sunday School is always before the service as far as you know is not the experience of many.

              No, experience should not dictate how we read scripture, but it does. That is not an excuse for viewing things unbiblically, it is reality and is helpful for us to be aware of as we read and study to know where our tendencies are and to take extra efforts to make sure we are truly looking for the meaning instead of what we want it to mean or what it *could* be saying.

              I'm not sure where you think I went "from children being able to sit with their parents in church service to the notion that there is something Biblical wrong with age specific discipleship" - I don't remember addressing age specific discipleship. I don't even know who Scott Brown is, I was responding to this article and these comments alone. But since you mentioned it, if you want to keep things Biblically based, I am not familiar with any passage in the Bible where all the 5 years olds are taught separately from the 10 year olds and the 15 years olds have their own class - it *does* seem like every instance that I am aware of involved either men only, or families. There seems to be a lot more examples of the church teaching the whole congregation than of any type of youth group. That does NOT mean that it is wrong - your point seems to be that you feel the church is responsible for teaching all ages, and I don't think many people are disagreeing with that. That's one of the entire bases for keeping families together in church as opposed to sending the children to separate classes during the worship service. I think many folks here probably have some very similar beliefs about this but are focusing on the differences.

            • Adam

              Jennifer,

              I would say that our experience is a *factor* in our interpretation of a text, but, because all men are created in the image of God, we can understand their intention by simply studying their background and context, as well as their view of reality. It takes work, but it is more than doable.

              Also, I think you kinda jumped into the discussion that Tiana and I were having. Tiana specifically mentioned the Family Integrated Churches, in the context of other things such as a woman's primary call of service being to her home. The Christian Patriarchy movement and the NCFIC have a particular theology and a particular hermeneutic associated with this theology. I have been doing a lot of work in that area myself. To understand the background of the discussions Tiana and I are having, this video, put out by the NCFIC, will allow you to hear their claims with their own words:

              http://vimeo.com/26098320

              It is hard, in a forum like this, to specifically lay out all of the issues associated with the more radical family integrated churches who say that any what they call "age segregation" is wrong because it is "unscriptural." However, that is the context and background to many of the comments on here, including those by Tiana, and I would presume by a few others on this board as well [although, certainly, not everyone who raises similar concerns will be a part of the NCFIC, and I think that is what is causing a lot of the confusion].

        • Molly

          Nail on head-awesome!

    • Molly

      Yes, and awesome!

    • Mike

      Fascinating that Proverbs 31 is referred to as a child-centric portrait when in fact it also includes as part of the portrait a woman who not only works, but is an entrepreneur.

  • Brenda

    Thanks for this article. I think you are spot on. I have been guilty of some of the very issues you have spoken of. I can't really add anything here, You did a great job. But I just wanted to tell you I think you're onto something and I am in an ongoing process of seeking to place God first, before anything (or anyone) else. If we place God as our number one priority, we can trust Him with everything (and everyone) else.

  • Jason Price

    I have found, among my conservative evangelical congregation, that family obligations like soccer, ballet, and band become excuses to not actively engage in mission, service, and worship. They are sacrificing their call to the service of the kingdom on the alter of family, for the sake of wanting their children to be well rounded, by our cultural standards. I hear folks say things like, "Sorry we missed church again pastor we were just out so late at that band competition last night." When pressured, they will say God wants our first obligation to be to the family not to church. While I agree the family is a serious priority, the Lord and our relationship to him being our first, we cannot allow family busyness, to overshadow kingdom business, which we are all called to be a part of as the body of Christ.

  • R Graham

    Are our children, our spouses, our parents the end goal? No. Are they not a means by which God is glorified? Are they not our neighbors? Does God not himself pay a special attention to family? As we ourselves are adopted. We ourselves are the bride of Christ.
    His emphasis to take care of the widows and orphans?

    We must not confuse love with idolatry. Yes, if we love something more than God, that is the danger, the sin. But love itself is the gift that we have received, we love because he first loved us.

    Can we love our family too much? Maybe for selfish reasons that exclude the faith we have been given to trust in God in all things?
    I find we do not love our families(let alone our neighbor) near enough.

    Maybe that is what is being said, I don't know. But it seems a very slippery slope into a "how do I make sure I do not love my family too much?" Which I am not sure if is really possible, if you are defining love with the Word of God that is.

    • JRP

      I think it all comes down to who we love the most- if God is at the top there, we have nothing to worry about it. If we are willing to obey God, no matter what our desires may be, we are in obedience to Him. (Sometimes, God asks us to give up our desires to have families/children of our own too!)
      I think that oftentimes, families don't love each other enough either. We take each other for-granted. We treat each other poorly sometimes. We don't communicate as we should and so on.

  • Jen

    Careful, Ted. Although calling everyone to check their hearts with respect to making family an idol is never a bad idea, acting as though you know why friends of yours make much of baptisms, birthdays on facebook and welcoming child # blank into their family is out of bounds. If you see brothers at your church caught in sin, you should go to them personally and try to restore them gently. Also, it's never a biblical idea to separate having children from "kingdom work."

  • OFelixCulpa

    Fantastic thoughts. I am so glad that you wrote them. I am, however, a little surprised that you don't have more angry detractors. In my experience, challenges to this kind of idolatry aren't usually well-received in our current Christian culture.

  • Tony Huy

    I sometimes hear, and have felt at times (wrongly), that people who do not have time to engage in church community as much as i expected as a pastor were idolizing their family. The problem with that is our false idea of what missional living is, what community is, what making discipleship is. We assume that has to be in the official church program or in the buildings of the church. We assume that has to be at one of our services when in reality, all those things are deeply needed and accomplished in the home. It is true, if a family seeks to live isolated lives and never engages in the culture or the church then perhaps they have become an idol to themselves, but often times I think families are trying to be missional and have community and making disciples of the people that they will be held most accountable for - their kids. I think there is care that needs to be had that we do not bash families for the sake of the idol of "church" (as our organization or kingdom). I don't think that the moral and theological state of our nation and the church is because we have way to many parents that are focused on raising their kids to live Christ exalting lives. Please let's not assume that if a family only comes to church on Sundays and not 2 or 3 or 4 times a week that they have drifted into idolatry. For all we know, they are loving their neighbors, sharing the gospel, living the gospel, entertaining friends and brothers and sisters in Christ in their homes, making connections at the soccer fields and baseball fields and dance studios.

    • Shawnele

      "The problem with that is our false idea of what missional living is, what community is, what making discipleship is. We assume that has to be in the official church program or in the buildings of the church. We assume that has to be at one of our services when in reality, all those things are deeply needed and accomplished in the home. It is true, if a family seeks to live isolated lives and never engages in the culture or the church then perhaps they have become an idol to themselves, but often times I think families are trying to be missional and have community and making disciples of the people that they will be held most accountable for - their kids. I think there is care that needs to be had that we do not bash families for the sake of the idol of "church" (as our organization or kingdom). I don't think that the moral and theological state of our nation and the church is because we have way to many parents that are focused on raising their kids to live Christ exalting lives."

      Yay!!! It is nso nice to hear a pastor who "gets it!"

    • Adam

      Tony, I would ask you the same question I asked Shawnele, and that is whether you do believe that the church has the authority to "make disciples" of all nations, including the children of these families. If the church has that mission, then is it not wrong for parents to prevent the church from accomplishing that mission by keeping them from the community of the church? And what of the command to "not forsake the assembling of yourselves together?" Why would that be in the book of Hebrews if we are not going to be held accountable for that every bit as much as whether or not we disciple our children?

      Yes, parents are supposed to teach children. However, the only way such a statement would be relevant in this context is with implication that *only* parents are supposed to teach children, when that is not true. The reductionism inherent in such a statement is quite obvious from a Biblical perspective. Parents are supposed to teach, and the church is supposed to teach. There is no contradiction between these two, and there is no problem, unless you make one or the other an idol.

      • Tony Huy

        Adam - It was not my intention to infer in any way that the church ought not to make disciples of children. I was a youth pastor for many years and loved it and believe deeply in it. I believe there ought to be robust children's and youth programs. In addition, I believe that we should have a deep commitment to fellowship, one in which our lives are intertwined together with other believers. God has created us for that. With that said

        1 - Discipleship of children is most ideally done by parents, because discipleship is life on life. Things like integrity, authority, work ethic, glorifying God in homework and taking out trash and loving your siblings as much as you love those on a short term mission trip ... all are most ideally accomplished within the sphere of family because it tends to be most real. So this is not to say that church should not or cannot teach this, but church should primarily view the discipleship of children accomplished through the discipleship of men and women to be God glorifying parents and then supplement ... supplement ... that discipleship with church programs. It's upside down if we think the work of the church to disciple kids is primary and parents discipleship of kids is supplemental. Not that you are saying that, but often times we treat our church programs like that.

        2 - I don't think quantity at church is the primary measure of real authentic heartfelt commitment to fellowship. I have known many many people who go to Sunday, midweek, gender specific bible studies, are at church 3 or 4 nights a week, and are totally isolated. They go to learn, which is great, and to be a part of some event, which is great, but some of them never have real life engagement that happens outside the walls of the church. That is not to fault them, simplying saying attendance in our programs is not neccessarily indicative of fellowship. I know families that choose to stay home midweek because they want bedtimes for their kids, they want dinner time with their kids, they want bible story times with their kids. And although they may only attend sundays, they will volunteer to serve when needed, they will bring food to people in the church, they will pray and meet with people as needed, they go to each others homes for family functions like birthday parties and swim parties and picnics. They are fully invested and committed to fellowship.

        My point is this: being busy in church may not be holy and being busy with family may not be idolization.

        • Adam

          Okay, I can certainly agree with that.

          If I may make an observation, I think the main problem is more what we do each of these things *for.* When we are busy with our families is it to serve God, or is it because we believe that what we are doing is hip within our circles? Is it to be accepted by some group, or is it to serve God?

        • Kylie

          Spot on! Thank you, Tony.

  • Shawnele

    "Churches encourage our husbands daily to not make idols out of their careers, and to not look at porn. But how are we, as wives, encouraging and exhorting one another not to make idols out of perhaps our greatest gifts: our families?"

    I definitely agree with the point of the article: idolizing family is just as wrong as idolizing your career. Anytime we allow *anything* to supplant God as the number one priority in our life, we are worshiping an idol. That said, while churches should discourage any kind of idol worship (including that of family) I believe that, too often, Churches err on the side of undermining the family as God intended it. Parents (fathers, primarily) - not churches - are given the instruction to disciple their children - but in some churches, good luck getting time with your children. They're at school all week (and churches respect that), but then there's Friday night activities, Youth Group events on Saturday, Sunday School on Sunday, Bible class Sunday & Wednesday evenings... Churches should be equipping parents to disciple their children and letting them do it - not competing for their children's time and hearts.

    My only other point was that mothers of "large families" seemed to be singled out in this article ("and used those same two wiggly, loud, preciously infuriating boys to confirm that we were not, ever, meant to be parents of a huge family","It came to me this Sunday while sitting behind a family with six or seven kids"...) I am sure there are a small number of mothers who have large famiies because they are baby worshipers. But, truly, the mothers I have met that are the most dedicated to the Lord are those who have large families (and they have large families because they have submitted that area of their life to God - not because they want a reality show). I certainly don't mean to argue that one must have a large family to be dedicated to God - I just found it interesting that large families specifically noted when my experience is that mothers of the large families I know are the go-to ones for spiritual wisdom and maturity.

    • Adam

      Shawnele,

      Parents (fathers, primarily) - not churches - are given the instruction to disciple their children - but in some churches, good luck getting time with your children. They're at school all week (and churches respect that), but then there's Friday night activities, Youth Group events on Saturday, Sunday School on Sunday, Bible class Sunday & Wednesday evenings... Churches should be equipping parents to disciple their children and letting them do it - not competing for their children's time and hearts.

      Are you seriously suggesting that the church does not have the authority to disciple those under its authority, including the children? Is not the whole point of the church to "make disciples" of both children and adults? I would think both children and adults would be included in the phrase "all nations." I think that such a position proves the point the author is making, namely, that the family has become such an idol that it is seeking to supplant and uproot the teaching ministry of the church!

      Worse than that, in such a situation, how can the parents ever be corrected? How would you ever have a situation, such as Deuteronomy 13:6 ever come about where false teaching within the family is corrected by the church, and, in this case, is punished by death? Without that necessary corrective on the teaching of the parents, I would say that the only thing that is left is patrio-fascism. No, the scriptures present both the parents *and* the church as teachers of children so that the parents can be corrected from the scriptures when they are wrong.

      Yes, there is a problem when churches snuff out the parents ability to teach their children. However, there is also a problem when parents snuff out the church's ability to teach and disciple their children. Both are important and essential. Idolatry occurs when one is neglected, and when you neglect the teaching ministry of the church to children, you have just made the family an idol, because you are contradicting what God has said is the role of the church in teaching those under its authority including Children.

    • Michelle

      Thanks Shawnele. I agree that mothers of large families seemed to be picked on in the article, as if they were somehow evidence of idolatry.

  • http://www.theologyforwomen.org Wendy Alsup

    Great thoughts. I've felt the same tug in my own heart.

  • Shawnele

    Hi Adam,

    The first thing that jumped out to me in your comment is how you came up with Jesus giving any instruction to "the church" - as "the church" came into existence upon His death.

    He told His **disciples** to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16). That said, the appointed elders of a church are to "shepherd" the flock and I do agree that they need to know what's going on with "the flock" in order to shepherd them - but very little of that takes place in a congregation setting, in my experience. We all get to know the members of the congregation - what they believe and what they are teaching their children - by spending time with them outside of the church setting.

    "Idolatry occurs when one is neglected, and when you neglect the teaching ministry of the church to children, you have just made the family an idol, because you are contradicting what God has said is the role of the church in teaching those under its authority including Children."

    The examples and directive we have in Scripture are of the members of the church coming together (as a church) to hear sermons, to sing songs, to encourage and admonish one another. We have the example of the deacons giving food to the widows. We also see that they were in each other's homes and lives on a day to day basis. We see that the elders have the responsibility to shepherd and all the members have the responsibility to admonish and encourage. We do not see Sunday School, Youth Group, etc ever in view. It would appear that, even from the times of the Old Testament, families worshiped together and parents raised up their children in the nuture and admonition of the Lord. We see that parents were responsible for discipling their children; that individuals disciple one another; that elders oversee the function of the church and shepherd the members. (A shepherd doesn't take a lamb away from it's mother to raise it - or even to give it a little snack on Sunday mornings, by the way. A shepherd ensures that the mother has what she needs (food, shelter, safety) to do her job - and he lets her do it.)

    I am responsible for the discipling of my children. I may choose to "outsource" that to a Sunday School teacher, but nothing in Scripture would indicate that I have any obligation to do so.

    • Adam

      Shawnele,

      No one is saying you *must* send your children to Sunday School [although, as my pastor said, what's better to be doing on a Sunday morning than studying God's word in Sunday School].

      Yes, Jesus gave the great commission to his disciples, but clearly it was intended to be something that is to be carried out by the entire church, because, right after Jesus' commission, you have the book of Acts, and is anyone going to suggest that the only people making disciples were the apostles?

      The examples and directive we have in Scripture are of the members of the church coming together (as a church) to hear sermons, to sing songs, to encourage and admonish one another. We have the example of the deacons giving food to the widows. We also see that they were in each other's homes and lives on a day to day basis. We see that the elders have the responsibility to shepherd and all the members have the responsibility to admonish and encourage. We do not see Sunday School, Youth Group, etc ever in view. It would appear that, even from the times of the Old Testament, families worshiped together and parents raised up their children in the nuture and admonition of the Lord.

      I don't accept the notion of directive and examples as an acceptable form of application of scripture in the first place. First, as to directives, my pastor gave me an excellent illustration one time. Let us say that there are two hunters out in the woods, and hunter one has a gun, and hunter two has a pair of binoculars, and is on the lookout for game. All of the sudden the hunter two sees the game off to the left, and he yells, "Shoot over there!" pointing to the left. Hence, hunter one shoots off to the left, but misses, and the game starts taking off to the right. However, hunter one keeps shooting the gun to the exact same place, even though the game has run off to the right. After hunter one runs out of bullets, hunter two bops him on the head with his hat, and says, "Why are you still shooting over there?! Didn't you see that the game had moved off to the right?" To which hunter one responds, "Yes, but I was just obeying your directive to shoot to the left."

      As for examples, again the problem is that this is likewise insufficient. Consider, for example, the fact that every example we have of someone drawing water from a well in scripture involves the use of a rope and bucket. Does that mean that there is a problem with using water pipes to bring water up from our wells today? If you want a more theological example, every example of the Lord's Supper we have in scripture is in the context of an entire meal. Does that mean that we must serve an entire meal with the Lord's Supper? Examples such as this could be multiplied.

      The issue is not so much the directive or the example as it is the *intent* of these directives or examples or anything else in scripture. The question is, "What are these texts intending to accomplish?" Or, as the pragmatics literature states it, "What is the illocutionary force of these statements?" If the intent of commandment is to get the church to teach, then, obviously, Sunday Schools and Youth Groups, being examples of the church teaching, would fall clearly within the intention of the text. I wrote about this on the Puritanboard a while back when the movie Divided came out arguing that such a view of the application of scripture does not understand the linguistic field of Pragmatics, which deals with things like intentionality in language. Language is far more than words on a page. It intends things, implies things, presupposes things, and can even shift reference in deixis. Word based views of language are largely on their way out because of the advances in the field of pragmatics.

      Also, I would not see Sunday Schools and Youth Groups as examples of the public worship of the church. You never have the sacraments during these events, and hence, it can hardly be said to be public worship, given that both word and sacrament are not present.

      We see that parents were responsible for discipling their children; that individuals disciple one another; that elders oversee the function of the church and shepherd the members. (A shepherd doesn't take a lamb away from it's mother to raise it - or even to give it a little snack on Sunday mornings, by the way. A shepherd ensures that the mother has what she needs (food, shelter, safety) to do her job - and he lets her do it.)

      First of all, as I have already said, no one reading the book of Acts is going to suggest that the task of discipleship is only given to the parents. What is going on with men like Barnabas, Timothy, Pricilla and Aquilla, and the many other faithful ministers of the early church who were not apostles if not discipleship? And what of the making of disciples by baptism? Is baptism invalid today, because only the apostles could make disciples? Or, is baptism to be done by parents and not the church?

      Also, no one is advocating kidnapping parents away from their children in order to raise them in the church. What is worse is the imagery of the shepherd and the sheep is used to express the need of the sheep for guidance because of the stupid nature of sheep. God is the head shepherd, but he has placed undershepherds in the church in order to do his will of leading and guiding the sheep. How is that leading and guidance not discipleship? And, are you really suggesting that a shepherd doesn't feed his little sheep? What of Jesus' command to Peter to "feed my lambs?" Are we seriously suggest that he meant "only the adult lambs?" Again, it makes no sense, given the cultural background, and given the context of Jesus' commandments themselves.

      • Shawnele

        Adam, we could go 'round and 'round on this and not get any further than we have right now. My perspective of Scripture (and the role of the directives and examples therein) is different than yours - as is my perspective of the role of parents and the church.

        May God bless you in your walk with Him.

  • David J.

    A specific but perverse manifestation of this idolatry that I have personally observed is the Christian woman whose idealized vision of a Christian marriage -- and especially of a Christian husband -- leads her to destructive dissatisfaction with her marriage and her spouse, allowing her to rationalize a divorce without a true biblical basis. The unbiblical divorce is then compounded with a headlong rush into an adulterous remarriage to a man who appears, at least at first, to be more spiritual. Serial marriages can be the good Christian woman's version of infidelity/adultery.

    David's comment above makes a very important point in drawing parallels between the evils of pornography for men and the evils of romance fantasies for women (now coming to be known as "divorce porn"). Unfortunately, the church is either unequipped or simply fails to step in to head off the consequences when it's the woman's idolatry that is driving a divorce.

    • Brenda

      David, you are absolutely right. I am in a spiritually unequal marriage, and there was a time when I considered leaving because I thought there was some sort of Christian prince charming I was SUPPOSED to be with (I thought I "deserved" to have that "idealized vision" of the Christian marriage). I now see things very differently (1 Peter 3) and it is my job to live biblically as best I can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the marriage I am in, not make an idol of romantic ideals of the "perfect" family. These romantic ideal idols nearly caused me to do something really dumb years ago. Do I love my family (we have 3 children)? OF COURSE I DO! But I wanted that perfect spiritual leader for my children so badly, I almost left a good marriage and I acted like a big baby. That is not right. And the crazy thing was, I didn't even think I was doing anything wrong! There are a lot of whitewashed walls out there (just look on Facebook) and I thought I was doing something horribly wrong, in fact, because our family didn't look like a lot of other families (dad dosen't come with us to church).

      One more thing: there is not a whole lot of compassion for women (and men) who are in this boat - we are kind of like the ugly duckling in a world of what appears to be, at first glance, perfect families. Maybe a person's own idol isn't an idealized mate (like me), but the worship of their immediate family to the exclusion of their church family and/or their secular community who may need some inclusion.

      • David J.

        Brenda, I'm so glad you were able to pull back from the divorce. If you don't mind my asking, what caused the turnaround in your thinking? I can believe that you thought you were actually doing the right thing; my ex remains convinced that she was doing the right thing, at least for now. Your reference to 1 Peter 3 is telling. In one of our many go rounds, I made the point that if Christian women are told to win their unbelieving husbands by their behavior, that should be at least as true of their behavior toward a believing husband. Her response? "It would be easier to live with a non-Christian husband."

        At root, Christian women's refusal to love and respect their husbands if they don't "measure up" is a result of fear. That's Peter's last thought on wives' proper behavior, in 1 Peter 3:6 -- "You are [Sarah's] daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." They can't or won't trust God to take care of them ultimately, so they have to manipulate their husbands into being what they think he should be (frequently if not always by withholding sex and respect) and, if necessary, divorcing him to move on to a better candidate. Unfortunately, our no-fault divorce system erects no barriers to this choice and, instead, frequently rewards it with unbalanced custody and financial arrangements. I'm "lucky" in that one of my two children who are still at home elected to live with me and the other is only only 2-3 years away from adulthood and the end of child support. I can't imagine what it is like for Christian fathers who lose primary custody of all their kids and have to pay child support long-term.

        • Brenda

          David J, once again I think you are correct in saying that a lot of times "Christian women's refusal to love and respect their husbands if they don't "measure up" is a result of fear." For me the fear was that my children would be negatively affected by my husband's secular worldview (BUT I'd like to emphasize he was not abusive and he did not cheat on me). That fear was honestly a bit paralyzing, the only way to combat it is through a commited prayer life (this is still the case for me). With me it was not a matter of a wandering eye on my part (although I did read romance novels at the time, which is a whole other can of worms and is definitely a kind or porn.) I never had an affair, nor did I actually leave our home. But I had this image in my mind of what a family should look like and I didn't feel our family fit what I saw in the church in general as the ideal. Like I said in my first reply to you: I made an idol out of the family (husband) that I thought I should have.

          I totally agree with the last part of your first paragraph. If I believe what Peter says in 1 Peter 3 (and I do), then I am called to be making every attempt to win my unbelieving husband without words by my behavior. Leaving the husband is not an option here, at least not biblically (I'm not talking about cases of abuse, obviously). If my husband is a believer but perhaps not growing in his faith as I maybe think he should be, I think this principle would most certainly still apply! I'm so sorry for the hurt and loss you apparently have suffered! The comment "It would be easier to live with a non-Christian husband" gave me goose bumps...it is NOT easy; some of the things I have to trust in God's hands I can't and won't go into here in this forum. I worry for her if she made such a statement.

          As to your question what caused the turnaround: I hit rock bottom. My husband and I fought constantly, we ended up filing bankruptcy because of poor choices (financially most were his, to be fair to me), and we lost our home. I was brought to my knees, literally, and I sought God through prayer and daily Bible reading and I began taking classes at my church - more relating to the Bible than my earthly relationships. For me, getting closer to God and attempting to discern His will for my life led me into a much closer relationship with my husband. Although it's not perfect, sometimes he resents the obviously large priority I place on God, our home is far more happy and harmonious. I DO NOT see, in any way, shape, or form, God's blessing on me leaving a marriage and disrupting my children's relationship with their father.

          Lastly, withholding sex and/or respect from a husband is never an option. This is not a Godly way of handling disagreement. Again, I'm so sorry for the hurt you have suffered.

  • Matt

    There's a lot to commend in this post and perhaps there's a segment of folks (women?) who need to hear it. Still, I wonder if a denial of the calling of women to be workers at home, devoted to husband and children as her first and most important particular callings which flow out of her calling to be a Christian isn't really where the battle line is drawn for MOST Christian (not to mention non-Christian) women. It's a question of emphasis and wisdom.

    • Adam

      Matt,

      Again, read the text:

      Titus 2:4-5 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

      Notice, it says that older women are to teach younger women to be *working at home* not workers at home. One implies a simple action they must perform, and the other implies an occupation, which is rather odd in the context of ethical concerns. The Greek term οικουργους is, in fact, an adjective, not a noun. And, as I pointed out above, it is spoken of in the context of ethics, not in the context of "particular callings which flow out of her calling to be a Christian," as if the calling to love her children, to be sensible, and to be pure are only "particular callings which flow out of her calling to be a Christian," and not universal ethical norms which all people must obey.

      Again, we must go to the text, and let the text define its agenda. When we read things like callings of particular genders into a text that clearly as an ethical agenda, commanding things that must be obeyed by all believers, then something has gone wrong.

      • Laura

        I worked full-time outside the home, as did my husband, from our daughter's infancy on. I promise you that when I was at home I was working! (I also loved my child, was sensible, and was as pure as anybody, I guess.)

        I appreciate your comments here, Adam.

        Going back to the original article - having just one child, we empty-nested all at once. It was really hard. It was hard for her too, because she kept asking permission to do stuff, and for me to make decisions for her, and once she was nineteen or so I had to tell her to quit asking; that she had always exhibited prudence and good judgment, (which was very true,) and that she was a grownup now and had to do her thing. Advice she could have, of course; I still ask my parents for that; but not me directing her life. The thing is, if my pride and self-respect and self-image had been totally bound up in being her MOMMY then it would have been so easy to just let her stay at home and continue to be our dependent forever.

        • http://www.delightfulsoaps.etsy.com Jaclynn

          Adam, thank you for that clarification on the verses in Titus, you made some really good points earlier about women being pure and sensible etc. and that is part of their calling as women in Christ, not THE calling. Just as staying at home all the time is not necessarily necessary or the THE calling. The fact that that word is an adjective and not a noun really brings it to light.

          Laura,
          It was good to read your thoughts on your daughter...I am that daughter in many respects,and I wish I had parents that told me what you told your daughter because it would have help me grow up sooner, I've been an adult for about 10 years now and I still doubt my decisions.

          • Be Careful

            Be careful not to play the blame game! I've seen it happen many a time and only brings more hurt upon ourselves. We can be adults and still seek advice and counsel from others. Read Proverbs. Don't run too far the other direction! Satan is waiting there.
            Your doubt is not your parents' fault. If you are doubtful, it's either because Satan is planting that seed of doubt or God is warning you not to do something.

            • Jaclynn

              Be Careful:

              Thank you for your words of admonition, I agree that Satan could be planting a seed of doubt or God could be warning. But you are forgetting another factor....lack of self esteem or confidence, in ones ability to make good wise informed decisions. I am not blaming my parents, I''m taking responsibility for my actions. But I am saying that I do struggle, even when I know a decision is the right one, because my parents made the majority of decisions for me, as a mature adult.

          • Be Careful

            Jaclynn: I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling with wherever you are in life right now and your self-confidence.I believe that there is nothing that good communication can't solve if both parties are ultimately wanting to living God-honoring Biblical lives. I don't know what major life decisions you are talking about nor is it wise to go into depth here. However, have you had some heart to heart talks with your parents? Have you sat down with them to discuss where you'd like to grow and go in life? That might be the first step in addressing some of the underlying issues there.
            I hope you can do that; I think it will help.
            Also, most parents (godly ones) desire nothing but the best for their children. Try to keep that in mind when reviewing your parents' past decisions and extend grace toward them. Perhaps they weren't meaning to be overly controlling and didn't realize it. Whatever the case may be, there can be healing if you truly do desire it. Communication, honesty, and a desire for God's will can help you prevail over the issues you face.
            I have found that lack of self-esteem/confidence can sometimes be a personality trait to overcome in time. God gives us strength to be over-comers in life- to persevere and be mighty servants for His kingdom. If you are in doubt about a major decision (whatever that may be, I don't know), pray on it a while longer. God always gives peace when we are in His will. If we aren't in peace about it, it may not be the right step to take.
            Cheers and God Bless.

            • Be Careful

              I also wanted to encourage you to keep your eyes focused on Christ. If glorifying Christ is our goal in life (as it should be), we may find that we don't focus on ourselves as easily. Our self-worth (and thus our self-esteem) comes from Christ. I have found in my own personal life that when I focused on myself too much, that is also when I struggled with "self-esteem", doubt, confidence and lack of self worth.
              No-one else can give us our self-worth. It's Christ alone. We are complete in Him.

  • http://www.thechuppies.blogspot.com Kara @ The Chuppies

    Have been thinking about this article for a while now...
    Comments too long for this box :)
    I appreciate much written here, but am wrestling with several aspects as well.

    http://thechuppies.com/2012/08/is-your-family-your-idol/

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  • Mother under condemnation

    As the product of a broken and dysfunctional home, the one thing I wanted when I, an agnostic married to an atheist, stopped work and started a family was to have a happy family and be a better mother and housewife than my mother was. Depression soon set in with an extremely difficult first-born, my marriage was getting rocky and the family dysfunctional, as my emotional baggage manifested under the pressures of motherhood. Some years later, the Lord worked in my life and I came to know him and he began to deal with my baggage. All I wanted was that my husband and children come to know and love the Lord. (I didn't expect them to be perfect). Instead, all my dreams have been shattered and eventually I reached the stage of burying my hopes and dreams. I've watched other whole families get saved down through the years, but not mine. In the meantime, I did my best to serve the Lord where he called me, but it has been a very lonely road. Now I walk alone with the Lord, while my atheist husband and grown children, one apostate and two lukewarm, do their own thing. In a sense, my family has been sacrificed on the altar of my faith. I've wondered if I perhaps tried too hard. Now this article shows me that I sinned by making an idol of my desire for my family to know the Lord, even though all I was doing was praying for them and trying to raise my children to know the Lord. I constantly prayed that the Lord would save them and work in their lives in spite of my failings. I keep praying for them, but articles like this make me wonder if I should, because it perpetuates that "idolatry". I can't go back and relive the wasted years that I've been such a failure as a Christian wife and mother...

    • http://www.titus2atthewell.com Tiana @ Titus 2 At the Well

      Dear Sister,

      None of us can go back and relive our wasted years. Thanks be to God for our Savior Jesus Christ! He forgives and restores those who turn to Him in repentance. If your past needs repenting of, then please repent. If you've already repented of those things then rest in the promise that God will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9).

      Desiring to see your family walk with God is not idolatry. That is a biblical desire. It can become self-idolatry when we believe that we are in control of the outcome--it is God alone that saves souls. Nevertheless, He has also ordained the means, and this includes your prayers. Never quit praying for your lost husband and children, but never forget that Jesus is the one who does the saving, not mother. (((HUGS)))

      • JRP

        Amen to this: "Desiring to see your family walk with God is not idolatry."
        However, like you mentioned....we also have to realize that only God alone can save their souls from their choices, their sins, their waywardness.
        I'll never quit praying for one of my family members. I now realize that I can't do anything about it. All I can do is pray and hope. And God is good, always!

        • JCR

          God is good, always! Amen! :)

  • Be careful

    The problem with this article is that it assumes the motives by looking from the outside....
    There is a name for this: judging. Jesus does not want us to judge our neighbor. If you have a loved one that you sense is engaging in the behaviors mentioned for the reasons mentioned (idolatry) then that is a Matthew 18 situation.....you can lovingly and truthfully, in an intimate setting, after much prayer, ask the questions that will get your loved one to consider their ways....
    As you can see by this last commenter this article can be taken totally the wrong way and is not clear on a "doctrine" of the family in light of the gospel. It would be far better if a person could articulate via confession about thier own idolatry - worshiping the gift of family rather than the giver - and spur others on in humility, rather thank dropping a condemnation bomb and having it hit not only its target but many others as well. Only God knows for the most part who is worshiping at the Altar of Family, and who is loving, multiplying, educating, and enjoying their family out of spirit-led, truth-fed, Worship to him.

    • JRP

      Amen, "Be Careful". I agree with you on the last commenter that you are referring to. The article can be taken the wrong way for sure. We need to be careful to not throw away the good gifts God has given us. Yes, family is a gift. God created it. Satan wants to destroy it.
      Only God knows our heart fully and truly. He knows when a family is loving, disciplining, correcting, educating and truly just enjoying their family out of spirit-led and truth-led Worship to Him. He will bless those who are truly seeking to do His will and follow Him. :)
      He knows our hearts.

  • Jeff

    I'm not buying what your selling in this article on several counts:
    1 - Family should be the primary source of discipleship of children. (your not espousing otherwise, but you are necessarily calling "amount of focus" and time into question)
    2 - You use "we" and "you" way more often than "I"...that's problematic when dealing with an issue that you-yourself are obviously dealing with at a core level...not necessarily true of the rest of us.

    God bless, and circle those wagons around your family, for the love of God.

    • Be Careful

      I love that last sentence of yours.... "circle those wagaons around your family, for the love of God".

  • Dean P

    Awesome awesome article. Thank you Ted and Kristin for this. My wife and I have been married six years and have no kids and you would think that the mission of some believing ladies that we know is not to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ but to preach the Gospel of your not an obedient Christian until you have had at least three children. So family idolatry is very apparent to those of us who have none but quite a blindspot for others. It also looks like based on some of the defensive comments above that the reality of family idolatry is very apparent right here at TGC.

  • Jennifer

    "Family idolatry is very apparent to those of us who have none but quite a blindspot for others."

    I was thinking the same thing - it's interesting that the vast majority of those who are accusing people of making their family an idol are those who have few or no children. I don't think one can understand the commitment and sacrifices, the time and work involved in parenting a larger family, and to those people, that makes it appear to them that these families are placing too much importance on their family unit. I think it would be wise to reserve judgment until one knows what another is truly thinking, feeling, or doing (and why), and realize it is very difficult to put yourself in another's shoes, especially when their circumstances are so different than your own.

    Interesting how those with small families are able to see so clearly this idolatry in larger families, while to the larger families, it is a "blind spot." Using language like that comes across quite arrogant, I must say. (and I am not saying that in a mean or nasty way, really - I just think it's sad how many folks are so quick to make assumptions about others).

  • Meg

    Interesting article- some in the church have elevated large families to a place of idolatry. We should not worship our families or judge each other because of the number of kids the Lord given us. But a couple of things in article I gave me pause...

    When speaking about marriage Malachi 2:15 says: Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

    Sad commentary on our churches when one says, "even foster kids". Really? Even? Like they are the lowest. Sadly,

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  • http://www.thatmom.com thatmom

    I appreciated the balance this article brings to the discussion on family life in the evangelical church. And I agree with the commenter who (rightly) observed that this is often a problem for women, especially in circles where “a godly woman’s role” has become limited to marriage and children. When Russell Moore and others declare the need to promote this lifestyle above others, what are we to expect? (And I say this as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of 6 and grandmother of 13 who has ived this way for nearly 40 years!)

    I sympathize with those who feel frustrated in churches where little ones aren’t welcome in worship services. We struggled with this for many years and eventually got involved with the family integrated church movement. However, all that glitters is not gold. Though children, and many of them, are welcomed, the underlying teachings including involvement with dominion theology and the federal vision, combined with heavy handed male authority both in the home and in church make for an oppressive environment for those seeking grace-filled relationships.

    I am currently running a series of podcasts on the family integrated church movement on my website and encourage anyone interested to check them out. I also wrote a 13 part series of articles on the pros and cons of the FIC based on our own involvement in helping to plant two FIC churches before returning to the traditional church several years ago. You can find both at http://www.thatmom.com.

    • http://www.titus2atthewell.com Tiana @ Titus 2 At the Well

      thatmom,

      While I do not have time to read the lengthy series of articles you've written, I'm sorry that you had bad experiences in the FIC movement. I think you need to be careful, however, to not paint with a broad brush. Most FICs I know of personally have NOT embraced the false doctrine of the federal vision/new perspective on Paul. Our church, and our denomination, have taken a strong stance against it. I'm not sure what your definition of "dominion theology" is, but those ideas vary a lot based on a church's eschatology. Indeed, FIC's have a pretty wide variety in terms of confession of faith. One way or the other, I assure you that no one is being heavy handed in their leadership around here, and what is being preached from our pulpit is expositional teaching of the Word, the true Gospel, and orthodox reformed Christianity. Obviously, if you find a church that isn't preaching the word rightly, turn around and run. But please, don't assume that all Family Integrated churches are full of bad doctrine. Most of us are simply trying to return to worship practices that do not separate children from their parents and restore to importance the practice of family discipleship.

      And with that, I need to let this conversation go. My idol is not my husband or my children. My idol is the approval of men, and it's starting to show it's ugly head here. I am sad to have been misunderstood by my comments. I desired only for women who minister to their families faithfully and tirelessly in accordance with the Scriptures to not be painted as idolaters because of it.

      Many Blessings to all.

      • http://www.thatmom.com thatmom

        Tiana, I am sorry you don't have time to read the articles because I think you would find that I have pointed out many of the great aspects of the family integrated church model and encourage all churches to consider how they can adopt these things as well. Two of the men I interviewed in the podcast series also have shared the good things that have been brought to light through this model. However, there are some very real concerns. For example, do you have any families in your FIC who are not homeschooling? If so, that is very rare. Does your church teach, in word and deed, that evangelism is meant to be done outside the church and home also? Or are you taught that evangelism is for our children? One of the key apologists for the FIC teaches that the Great Commission is directed at father evangelizing their children only. Are you also aware the the FIC movement has declared that churches that are not FIC are outside the will of God? I would encourage you to did deeper...this isn't about experiences alone; it is about a false Gospel that results in idolatry of the family.

        • http://www.titus2atthewell.com Tiana @ Titus 2 At the Well

          "For example, do you have any families in your FIC who are not homeschooling? If so, that is very rare."

          Not all of our families homeschool, but I am at a loss as to why it would be a bad thing if they were. It's not a membership requirement, if that it what you mean.

          "Does your church teach, in word and deed, that evangelism is meant to be done outside the church and home also?"

          Of course. Our presbytery sponsors missionaries, and our body has a prison ministry. We pray for the lost, both within and outside our families. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

          "Or are you taught that evangelism is for our children? One of the key apologists for the FIC teaches that the Great Commission is directed at father evangelizing their children only."

          I've never heard anyone with any credibility take this position, and I've read and listened to FIC teachings pretty extensively.

          "Are you also aware the the FIC movement has declared that churches that are not FIC are outside the will of God?"

          They teach that separating children from their parents for worship is a violation of the regulative principle of worship. They point out the lack of Scriptural basis (and sad failures) of the modern youth ministry model. I have no doubt that all of our churches are "outside the will of God" in some way shape or form. We must admonish churches to examine their methods to discern whether or not they are biblical (or merely pragmatic).

          Alright, and now I am really done here. God bless you all as you seek to honor Him, in your families and beyond.

          • http://www.thatmom.com thatmom

            Tiana, here is a link to Kevin Swanson making these assertions ie evangelism. Kevin is one of the apologists for the FIC movement, was featured on the Divided Movie you link to on your blog, and is a well-known spokesperson for the patriocentric end of the hoemschooling spectrum.

            http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=5511036227

  • Dean P

    Jennifer. I actually regret writing that sentence that you brought up it was indeed arrogant and for that I apologize. I would though ask that you go back and read the initial first sentence that I wrote and really try to contextualize and put yourself in the shoes of those of us who don't have, can't, or are not able to adopt children and see how arrogant and self-righteousness this sentiment and stance comes across to those of who are different. It is that reactionary stance towards the world that is what often times fosters that blind spot of self-righteousness.

    The irony in all of this is if or when my wife and I finally have a child because of logistical and vocational issues I will be the one who will likely be staying at home with the child instead, of my wife. So then we will have a whole other batch of self-righteouness reactionary attitudes coming from the same Christians who were pushing us to have children for so many years in the first place. Now when we finally do, they will be looking down their nose at us for me being a stay at home dad. So either way because of this family idolatry that exists in this church we are d@%#)d if we do and d@%#)d if we don't. Woo-hoo good times.

  • Hope

    Totally me, worshipping at the altar of family. If you would have told me so a few years ago, I would have denied it and called you, "worldly." By the grace of God I was woken up to my idol, but then experienced extremely painful shunning from my some of my closest friends. It was a lonely season, but God has brought me and my family to a better place.

  • Mary

    I love the heart of this article...I should love my husband and be an anxious bride waiting for His return. Nothing should take that place in my heart- not my earthy husband, my children, our family unit.

    I am extremely disappointed this article wasn't edited to make sure all part were biblical. 3 things I find troubling- all in the first paragraph.

    God designed marriage to produce godly offspring, so this "trend" is not so much a "trend" but an expectation by our Heavenly Father. (Malachi 2:15)

    Also wondering what the authors meant when they stated "even foster kids"- like they are secondary people and foster families are using them to enlarge their "idol".

    The authors say because their kids are a lot of work that must mean that they should only 2 kids...not so much a Biblical principle- we do not run from hard things but follow the Lord out of obedience. I have fallen into this trap myself, like I should choose how many kids the Lord wants to bless me with.

    The heart of this article is awesome! I need to keep myself in check- that He is the ONE who is receiving glory and all my worship.

    • JRP

      Amen, Mary!! I found very few Biblical references myself. God created family and children and it's His will for many to marry and create offspring.
      We should Never run away from hard things. We should always follow the Lord in obedience. Even if that means not marrying or waiting to marry. Or if it means marrying at a young age because God brought your spouse to you at that point in your life.
      I, myself, would rather wait to get married (as I'm doing) than rush headlong into marriage just to get married and have a couple of babies.

      • JCR

        Marriage should never be an object or goal (that to me, would be like putting it up as an idol) and if you are getting married just to get married or just to have babies, then one obviously lacks maturity. If it is His will for one to marry, I believe those signs will be obvious when the time is right. :) Sometimes stepping forward and actually marrying when you are called to do so, can in itself, be a "hard thing". Relationships take sacrifice, it is not all about being in love, but rather a daily choice of love and putting the one you love at the Lord's feet.

    • Adam

      Mary,

      Read another translation of Malachi 2:15. For example, the NASB:

      Malachi 2:15 "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.

      The issues in Malachi 2:15 are manifold, not the least bit whether the "remenant" has anything to do with the theology of the remenant, and even whether the "Godly seed" refers to the seed of the people God is addressing here, or, since they are descendants of whoever this passages is talking about [whether Adam and Eve or Abraham, or others], the audience themselves, saying that they are to be Godly seed. The context would seem to suggest the latter, since this is a judgment oracle against divorce. In other words, "God was seeking Godly seed by this union, so, if you claim your are truly this Godly seed [i.e., the chosen people], start acting like it!"

      Again, be careful to not confuse "Biblical" with "my interpretation." Malachi 2:15 is one of the hardest texts to deal with in the Hebrew Bible, and entire pages of commentary have been written on it. Right handling of the text sometimes involves recognizing these issues, and refraining from using a passage like this, even though it, again, would be countercultural to do so. Handling the scriptures accurately should be our first priority, not simply doing things to be "contercultural."

  • shevrae

    I was not trained or educated for homemaking; I prepared myself for a career in scientific research. I knew that my purpose was to research disease and find cures, and to volunteer my spare time, energy, and money in mission work through my church. I still think I would have been very good at that.

    10 years later, I find myself a stay-at-home homeschool Mom with 4 girls. There's not much spare time, energy, or money anymore for that mission work and I'm not curing diseases. But THIS job sends me to my knees in prayer like nothing else in my life. I certainly don't feel like I'm "good" at it - but I know God IS good and is teaching me how to rely on Him at all times. I have no way of knowing what the fruit of this season will be - for me or for my daughters.

    I don't doubt the premise of the article - humans are quite adept at taking the good things God gives and elevating them in importance over God. But someone who would look at the changes in my life over the last decade and assume that I had given up a "missional" mindset in favor of a family idol would be very mistaken - God has simply changed my ministry from one that I was able to perform quite happily under my own power to one that I need His strength every day to complete.

    • Be careful

      Oh my goodness.....so well said. Please read this comment!!!

    • Shawnele

      I agree - a wonderful comment!

  • Radiance

    In the Mormon religion, marriage and family are the cornerstones of the afterlife. Contrary to Jesus' teaching, Mormons believe marriage is an eternal bond...not merely a temporal symbol of the church's bond with Christ. Christ takes a backseat to spouses and children.

    Is it any wonder so many "Christians" in this country so easily identify with a presidential candidate who is an unbeliever, a lost follower of a false religion that blasphemes the Word of God? Because when they look in the mirror, they see more of him or at least wish to be more like him...the seemingly perfect spouse and parent, rich, successful, etc...

    Jesus wasn't even married. He was a blue collar carpenter. Yet we are called to look and be more like him even as married people in varying vocations. That is the challenge.

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  • JRP

    But that doesn't mean we can't CHERISH our families. Respect and honor them. Appreciate them and be thankful for them. No need to run away from something God created... Remember, Satan loves to tear apart families and destroy them. Go to far the opposite way and Satan already has you in his hands. It is a battle. A personal battle.

    • joyfulgal

      JRP:
      I can't help, but notice that with all your comments on this board, that you are not merely commenting to edify, but rather that you have a personal agenda you are pushing? Correct me if I'm wrong, it is just that some of your comments at times have little to do with the subject or person's comments you are replying to.
      Peacefully,
      joyfulgal

      • JRP

        JoyfulGal,
        I'm sorry if I was coming off too personal there. Its just that I can see how many well-meaning people could take this article the wrong way and it bothers me. So many people seem to run the opposite direction in search of a balance. I've seen it happen and that is why I am concerned. I think God blesses those who cherish their families and realize they are a blessing from God Himself. I don't think our families should be idols but it's a fine line there. I see family togetherness and closeness as a beautiful thing; esp. in today's world where it hardly exists anymore.

  • Dean P

    Radiance: Amen & Amen Brother.

    JRP: I'm not seeing the things that you are warning about in "Radiance's" comments. What your saying sounds more like the slippery slope fallacy to me.

    • JRP

      I was referring to Calvanist Crossings comment :)

  • Brian

    The article is over generalized. Aside from using nonconstructive sarcasm in the first four paragraphs, the authors offer no biblical examples or biblical basis for what they're writing. Of course, families can be an idol, but so can the church. The authors leave no resolve.

    When I read the article, these were my initial thoughts: 1) Are they really over the fact that they cannot have children? 2) How exactly do they judge what is acceptable time spent in church ministry vs. ministering to the family? 3) And why so much unloving sarcasm? and 4) Is this really an article against having large sums of children or is it about balancing women's responsibilities within church?

    It would be more helpful if the authors would take the time to Biblically describe the balance that should exist between time with families and time with ministry. Even better yet, please use the Bible to annotate the responsibility of time spent according to husband/wife roles. E.g., What role does the woman have in church ministry given Ephesians 5:23 and Genesis 2:18?

    This would be particularly useful because my wife and I are currently trying to find the balance between church and family. The very qualification to be an elder is to be able to manage one's own home. This is for the male and not the female. Likewise, not every male is to be an elder; however, it is obviously of high importance for the man to manage his family. So, where do the women (young women with children) fit into church ministry equation?

    Titus 2:3-4 mentions old/aged women doing ministry. Old women presumably do not have large families to take care of any more. This leaves time for ministry in the church. That said, it doesn't state when the older women are to minister or how often. How far then do we have young women with children/husbands participate in church ministry?

    • Clarice

      Yes. I had similar thoughts and similar questions on all accounts.

    • G.R.

      I agree with you.

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  • Michelle

    I'm not sure what the relationship between Reformed churches bursting with children and idolatry of the family is...from what I've seen, small families are just as likely (more likely?) to be the ones where Mom lives vicariously through her perfectly doted-upon children. The "children as pets" syndrome, in fact, is alive and well in post-Christian America. A family who limits itself to a small number for the express purpose of being able to give their children the most attention, lots of lessons, every academic advantage, etc. is probably more prone to idolatry than the family whose children wear hand-me-downs, aren't able to take part of very many sports or lessons and who do chores out of necessity. Of course, the heart is an idol factory and we are all prone to make idols out of...pretty much anything. So yes, Godly women who are following Scriptural commands to be busy raising their children will probably struggle more with idolatry of family than say addiction to romance novels, or putting their career first. But please don't pick on Moms who have a large number of children, as if this is somehow a sign of their idolatry or proof that the Church is going off into error.

  • Erin

    As a personal friend of the authors of this article (full disclosure of possible bias here) I know the spirit in which this article was written. I know of the pain they have experienced, feeling like outsiders, like second-class citizens around the large, biological families in their church experience. But I would like to point out to all readers of this article and the comments above that they are not standing in judgment over large families. If you read carefully (not even carefully, but at least with a heart that is not already closed to the possibility that you may have something to learn here) you will see that they are claiming for THEMSELVES the name of "idolator." They, with their two adopted children, are the ones who are feeling convicted of idolizing family. Because family is so important to them and it has been a harder road than they had anticipated. They aren't pointing fingers, but inviting all of us to consider our own idolatry, admitting that ours may not be the idolatry that is most often mentioned from behind pulpits.

    As the wife of a pastor, I have seen family take precedence over church and God many times in parishoners' lives. I've also seen church take precedence over family. Both are ugly. Yes, family is a gift. But our job as parents is to disciple our children (as several comments pointed out) not sacrifice all of our time, energy, money, and praise to build their egos, make their resumes more impressive, brag about them to our friends, and obsess over their accomplishments. Once upon a time that was all considered pretty tacky. Now it is a given. I think the Klucks are hoping to add balance to a culture that tends toward extremes. I think they are trying to get us to ask ourselves important questions like "Do I spend more time at my kids' sporting events and rehearsals than I do in prayer and Bible study?" "Do I spend more money on my kids' extracurricular activities, clothes, and gadgets than I give to my church and charities?" "Do I miss worship (and allow my kids to miss worship, thus setting the example for them that God is less important than X, Y, or Z) because it conflicts with our schedules?" "Do I spend more time talking about my kids to other people than I do talking to them about God?"

    Kids are blessings. Spending time with them is important. Showing them unconditional love is essential. The Klucks aren't saying it isn't. They are simply asking the question: "Are we putting the ideal family in the position of preeminence in our lives, where only God should be?" For some of us the answer will be no. For others, it will be yes. But all of us should consider it. If the answer is no, great! The next step for you is to examine your heart and see if there is something else in your life that is taking God's place. And you just might examine whether or not you are coming across as condescnding and superior to the infertile couple in the pew behind you (even if you don't mean to).

    • Adam

      I agree, Erin. It is sad that the message of this article is be caricatured into "If you have large families, you are an idolator." That is *not* the intent. The point is to show that putting the family at the center of reality is not good, and statements such as "Anything other than a Family Integrated Church is not God's will" or "Women must have their carrier in the home" or "not having children in marriage is wrong" all point back to one direction: the family. When we start misusing the text of scripture, and place a mere creation in the center rather than the creator himself, we are walking down the road to idolatry.

      Let the scriptures speak for themselves, and let *them* define what is and what is not acceptable behavior. Then, we can go to culture. However, one has to wonder, when you come up with all of these strange teachings that are *very* bad exegetically, one must ask: Is the guiding principle of interpretation of scripture the text itself, or is it marriage and family?

  • http://prayernotesbycynthia.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    It is so easy to turn people(families) and things into "our worship." That's why we must take stock of our thoughts, words and deeds...adjusting and readjusting who we worship and serve: Christ!! Be proud of your family, friends and neighbors, but know that no one comes before the Lord. Let your speech lead to the Kingdom of God. And, when we realize that we are raising people and issues above Christ, let us pull-back, adjust and readjust our thoughts and words upon Him. Love each other...hold each other up...but, remember, the Lord is at the center of everything. He is Everything. When we keep Him at the center of our lives, there is no room for placing others on a pedestal. He stands at the center of our lives, guiding, loving and holding us. We are bound to swerve off-course, every once in a while. But, the most important and critical part of growing in Christ, is to recognize our flaws, dust ourselves off, adjust and readjust our focus onto the One that matters most: Jesus. Be blessed, friends.

    • JRP

      AMEN!!!!

  • Shansbo

    This is an amazing article. I have seen people worship and idolize their families for years. It's very easy to fall into the practice, but what's scary is it is a sin. It is in violation of the first commandment of God. When you idolize your family, you see no wrong doing by them. Just like Ely never disciplined his sons, both he and his sons died. People must be careful because God will remove that idol... God is still a jealous God.