I was speaking at a conference on Christianity and the family. I had the challenge of trying to think about the family in the manner that Jesus seemed to think. I noted that Jesus had minimal interaction with his own family and, when he did go home or encounter his mother, things usually went badly. He made his disciples by rescuing people from their families. His, "Follow me!" appears to have meant, "Leave your family." Then there is Paul, and most of us know how negative he was on marriage and family. Indeed, one of pagan Rome's most trenchant criticisms against early Christians was that they tore families apart, teaching children to be disrespectful of their parents, and wives not to submit to their husband, and nothing was more dear to pagan Romans than their families. Jesus was clear that he had come to turn father against son and mother against daughter (Mark 3). The gospel was a sword that severed families and broke the hearts of many parents (Matthew 10:34-39).I wonder if James Dobson would agree with Willimon on this.
So when Christians say "family," what we mean is "church" - that gathering based not upon natural birth, or social class, or race, or the world's other ways of locating people. We are trying to be members of that family formed by the waters of baptism. Our family consists of those who have been made disciples by being baptized and taught. That is our idea of family. (220)
Saturday, November 04, 2006
was Jesus anti-family?
I'm getting back to reading Bishop William Willimon's book Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry. This morning I read this thought provoking section in the chapter entitled "The Pastor as Teacher: Christian Formation."