Restoration of America’s Christian heritage does not hinge on the upcoming elections. While we all want to see our nation’s highest offices occupied by faithful believers, there’s a reason why Jesus tells us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. Government runs the kingdom of this world, but Jesus leads a greater Kingdom. Elected officials cannot solve Kingdom problems. Instead, our Lord set up two earthly constructs to conduct heavenly business – families and churches. Those are the primary institutions God established to carry out the Great Commission. In other words, transforming our culture into its intended, Christ-centered state starts from the bottom up, not the top down. As leaders of our families and churches, we bear far greater responsibility for the direction of our nation than our President, Senators or Governors.
No doubt, that’s why Satan is consumed with destroying biological and church families. Most discipleship is supposed to happen within our homes and through our houses of worship. Yet, both family units God envisioned are being viciously attacked in today’s culture. Coordinated campaigns were launched decades ago designed to undermine the biblical composition, roles, authority and allegiance of husbands, wives and children. Unfortunately, churches counteracted each of those campaigns primarily with their votes and voices, attempting to impose God’s laws on those who don’t acknowledge His existence.
Modeling Agape (unconditional) love is a prerequisite for criticizing any immoral forms of Eros (sexual) and love. Jesus was merciful toward “sinners” and harsh toward those who judged them. The Church’s credibility has suffered immensely as it fought each new Eros battle – premarital sex, abortion, gay marriage and then transgenderism – conveying condemnation rather than compassion. As a result, the Christian community not only lost on all of those fronts, but in the process was complicit in its own decline in public perception.
The path to reinstating the biblical picture of family and the institution of marriage in America is not legislative or judicial. The buck stops with individual believers taking responsibility for discipling their own children and churches taking more seriously the mandate to disciple their own members. Jesus repeatedly stressed that the latter was the more important “family” – a united, loving Church that obeys the Great Commandment and Great Commission is “My brother and sister and mother”. A disciple’s devotion to “father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters” must pale by comparison to their love for Jesus. Church families are made up of biological (and foster/adoptive) families who will live out in their own homes what they see modeled in their own church.
Biblical Picture of Family
Jesus came to bring division within households, called many followers to leave their families behind and abandoned His own parents to go to “His Father’s house”. Yet Jesus validated the sanctity of marriage and command to honor moms and dads. Society collapses without a solid familial structure in line with God’s will where faithful parents raise up godly children “in the way they should go”…
- Marriage – Comprised of a man and a woman (Mark 10:7)
- Fidelity – Undying loyalty to one another (Matthew 5:32)
- Unity – Alignment via an established chain of command (Ephesians 5:22, 25)
- Discipline – Sons and daughters need correction (Hebrews 12:8)
- Fatherhood – Dads play a critical role in children’s lives (Ephesians 6:4)
- Priorities – Family commitments don’t supersede Christ and compassion (Luke 9:59–62)
- Faith – Entire households believe in Jesus and follow Him (Titus 1:6)
Politicians and pastors can’t perform those functions for us. We must shepherd our own flocks. However, those who lead our nation and churches are largely to blame for providing ammunition to activists to undermine our Christian heritage by tearing at its underlying foundation – the family unit.
America’s (Re)Definition of Family
Centralizing church around a place, event, pastor and youth group leader has not only led Christians to abdicate their (decentralized) spiritual leadership roles within their own families but has also facilitated pointing fingers out in anger at non-believers whose aim is to break down biblical family constructs. Rather than empowering and equipping parents, attractional church growth models have increased dependence on a “village” to teach our kids about Jesus. However, those same “Invite, Involve and Invest” strategies also keep most youth groups from pouring deeply into children, hoping to lure parents by engaging kids in fun and fellowship. The resulting throngs of cultural Christians lack the depth to grasp that Jesus came to serve and heal the sick, not condemn them. Those who organize and support anti-family campaigns are no different than the tax collectors and prostitutes Jesus gravitated to, offering faith, hope and love. In other words, defining “church” around a place and not people means most Christians today don’t reflect Jesus’ emphasis on discipleship and compassion, clearing the way for activists and media to have tremendous success in advancing their radical agenda to redefine “family”…
- Marriage – Two women or two men are equally qualified to raise children as a man and woman
- Fidelity – Personal happiness is paramount, so anyone unhappy in a marriage should leave it
- Unity – Partners retain their unique versions of “truth” and feelings should never be suppressed
- Discipline – Children need space to find themselves, including their gender and religion, so rather than meddling, trust them to make the right choices
- Fatherhood – Genders are interchangeable; it’s sexist to think moms can’t do everything dads can do
- Priorities – Sacrifice for kids, even if their activities conflict with church and helping the poor
- Faith – It’s immoral to influence or impose your personal worldview on the rest of the family
All of those principles hinge on the premise that human nature is inherently good. Personal fulfillment is the ultimate objective in the absence of God. Yet our society is experiencing record rates of teen suicide, depression and drug use. Misplaced faith in self and human intellect always eventually implodes in on itself – we were made by God to glorify God, not ourselves. So campaigns to redefine modern families have had to produce a tremendous amount of intensive propaganda over decades to prop up their misguided assertions.
How Churches Can Restore Biblical Families
Jesus established His definition of “family”, the Church, to help maintain order in our chaotic world. Without any guidelines for our most basis social structure – the biological family – culture crumbles under the weight of divorce and disobedience. However, earning the equity to speak into that culture such that non-believers will listen requires demonstrating that the biblical model “works” better than their alternatives…
- Demonstrate Agape love to those we don’t agree with in the face of their hatred toward “judgmental” Christians
- Unite across denominational lines to show anti-family activists and the media that our love for one another eclipses their worldly forms of love
- Serve relentlessly and pray incessantly for those who are not part of our family of Christ
- Return to intensive, personalized discipleship to combat high divorce and depression statistics among churchgoers
- Find common ground with secular society on equity and justice issues, conveying that God (and His followers) care about them too
- Patiently wait for their self-centered, godless picture of “family” to eventually flounder and fail, which it will
- When that time comes (and even before), share the Good News that the Lord has a preconceived, better design in mind for men, women and families
Fighting the culture war by electing politicians and raising up pastors who will conduct an air war, dropping more verbal bombs, won’t stem the breakdown of American families. No amount of shouting through a louder megaphone will move that needle back in God’s direction. The only answer is a ground war of love and compassion that wears down their defenses as they begin to realize the consequences of building their proverbial (family’s) “house” on the sand.
It’s Your Turn…
Do you think Christ sees your church family as a model for how biological families (within and outside your congregation) should operate? Are the pastors and parents within your church taking full responsibility for their roles as disciples and disciple makers in their homes and house of worship as God intended?