Word from the Center: Friday, August 3, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

The Enduring Virtues of Marriage and Family – It’s Good for Society too!

God is at work in the world two ways, to preserve it and, then, ultimately to save it. Christians need to learn to differentiate how He does each. He works in the civic-temporal-societal realm through the law, through the vocations of Christians and non-Christians, to preserve society itself even as He proclaims salvation in Christ through His Church for all who believe. Because God is at work in the community in both ways, Christians are to be engaged in the community for the sake of the Gospel as well.

One of the fundamental vocations, affecting both realms, is being fathers and mothers who seek to have families, even more so, ones who seek to build faithful families. As Christians, the effort to strive to build faithful families can be a blessing not just for those that we love, but for the community as well. For those we love, the family can be the place where fathers, mothers, and children can share Christ’s love daily. So, striving to build godly families is lovingly honoring God’s institution of the family in service to one another which blesses us personally. But faithfulness to God’s intent for the family is one way that God also builds public civility, respect, and courtesy into a community. In that way, fulfilling our roles as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children can be helpful in sharing the Gospel too. After all, it is hard to share the Gospel when all hell might be breaking loose in one’s life. The disarray, even dissolution of the family, is at the root of many community problems in our midst. When people are living in fear in their homes, or when home life itself is in disarray, sharing the Gospel is very difficult because people are often in survival mode from one day to the next.

Striving for godly families, even defending the virtues of the traditional family, matters then, not just to the church, but to the culture. Recent debates about marriage, including gay marriage, are a bit disingenuous because they come on the heels of the sexual “liberation” movement which for decades denounced marriage and its virtues as institutionally and relationally outdated. When I was in college at the University of Michigan in the late 1970s, I remember professors describing marriage as obsolete at best or abusive at worst. It was a time for experimentation, not commitment; for vice, not virtue; for temporary pleasures, not eternal disciplines. But something is changing today. Mona Charen, in her National Review article titled, “The Price of Feminism,” notes that even feminism may be tiring of the so-called sexual revolution. She says,

By rejecting modesty, courtship, and chivalry, feminists of the 1960s and 1970s rejected the safe harbor of marriage and family and invited the social chaos that has left so many women struggling to raise children by themselves and feeling exhausted, insecure, and cynical. It has also left many men aimless, addicted, angry, and alone.

Striving to build faithful families, speaking against the pathology of sexual libertinism, and defending the institution of the family are not just optional for Christians. Why? Because we know that the family is one key way in which God is at work in the world to preserve it so that people can really hear that He saved it in Jesus Christ.