Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The family and the church

Below I am copying a great post by Peter Leithart. The original post can be found on his blog.

As soon as Adam sins, his marriage is disrupted, as he becomes Eve’s accuser instead of her guardian. In the next generation, sibling rivalry escalates to the first murder. The family is a fallen institution. It cannot redeem. It needs to be redeemed.

The story continues throughout the Old Testament. The families of the patriarchs are often riven by rivalry between son and son, wife and wife, father and son. David’s sons compete and kill for the throne, and in the very last book of the Old Testament Malachi is still talking about divorce. The family cannot redeem. It needs to be redeemed.

It can only be redeemed by incorporation into the family of God, the church. Families are independent. Fathers and mothers have real authority over their children, and elders do not micromanage family life. Each family has its own table, its own proper ways and habits and memories and hopes.

But families function rightly only if they submit to the oversight of the elders in a church family. The family table is a place of joy and celebration only when the family also gathers together at the table of the heavenly Father. Marriages are healthy when they are engrafted into a network of marriages. We can raise our children well only with the assistance of the brothers and sisters, the aunts and uncles and mothers and grandfathers, the kin network of the church.

This doesn’t happen by magic. It happens when we all take responsibility for the next generation. Through the Spirit, we are all members of one another, and that means that we need to be assisting one another in raising children. Whenever we have a baptism, we promise to assist the parents in the Christian nurture of their children. Are we keeping those promises?

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