Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nick Bogardus considers the decline of the nuclear family

Perhaps the most loving, most prophetic thing the church can do is to call men in their 20s to love Jesus, read their Bibles, get a job, to leave their parent’s house, and to love one woman—according to the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and the New York Times, no one is doing that.

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Bogardus seems to have overlooked a prophetic message from some dude named Isaiah about eunuchs in the people of God.  Not everyone can or will get to that "love one woman" thing.  Where are those jobs for the 20-somethings?  The "real" jobs?  Bogardus is just repeating worn out axioms from Driscoll, I'm afraid.  The decline of the nuclear family may not presage a decline of the family at all. We may be in a tumultuous transitional period in which extended families begin to make a comeback.  Ironically Mars hill, in the first ten years, was a huge advocate for "living in community" and "life together". Or at least they were while Driscoll felt obliged to rent out as many spare rooms in his real estate as possible.  Now that he and his wife aren't renting to single guys maybe things have changed.

The nuclear family won't go away but perhaps the most prophetic and loving thing the church in America can do is to recognize that sexual fidelity is wonderful but the economic baggage we attach to courting/mating/dorting may have to be reassessed.  Most of the guys who have pastoral roles at MH who are in their 40s or late 30s by now were able to capitalize on a pre-bubble real estate situation.  These guys have obtained their variation of the American dream and they seem to really think that younger guys not pulling off the same hat track is a sign that they need a prophetic rebuke.  Maybe some of them do but I think the decline of the nuclear family may be nothing more than a transition in American culture into extended families becoming more common, if not in the upper classes then potentially in lower classes. This may look like a breakdown of the "traditional" family but the nuclear family is not nearly as traditional as evangelicals in America may think it is.  

That thing about the "one woman man" stuff ... further reading of Reformers beyond a few Neo-Calvinist favorites might be in order. I'll let biblioblogger Jim West field this because I can't possibly improve on what he wrote.

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