Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christian values and family values

I always love pulling out the passage Luke 14:25ff when someone tries to talk to me about Christian Family Values. Certainly there are a number of passages that celebrate family, but… family is less important than following God. Christian family values are centered around God rather than the family. Christian family values look to Jesus rather than to what the family looks like. Christian family values are those who take in the orphan, the widow and the stranger rather than those who throw away a child because they are in jail or have a different sexual orientation or are on drugs or are doing something that the ‘family’ considers unchristian. What is unchristian is an attitude that discards a person because they’re not living the ‘right’ way. Christian family values are those that speak out in truth and love to welcome those who might be despised or lost or forsaken.

Christian values aren’t family values. Once that little word ‘family’ is used as a modifier then the Christian part ceases. There are Christian values for families, but the emphasis should be on the one whom we follow rather than anything that might separate us from that one. I’m certainly not opposed to families having and teaching values. I just want to be sure that those values are properly labeled and taught. There are Christian values and family values and Christian values that impact families. But to speak of Christian family values dilutes the message of Christianity in a way that distorts the message of the Christ that is claimed. And that upsets me.

The Christ that I find in scripture welcomes the child and the widow – those who have lost the protection of family or of paterfamilias – but also when told ‘blessed is the womb that bore you’ corrects the comment with ‘blessed are those who hear and follow the word of God.’ And this is the point of the passage – all else is subordinate to the word of God. One who follows Christ is going to leave everything behind for God. No if, ands, or buts are welcome. A whole heart that goes to one end irrespective of family or anything/ anyone else that might get in the way of following God.

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