When I consider the state of the world, the total obscurity enshrouding our personal destiny, and my present imprisonment, our union—if it wasn’t frivolity, which it certainly wasn’t—can only be a token of God’s grace and goodness, which summon us to believe in him. We would have to be blind not to see that. When Jeremiah said, in his people’s hour of direst need, that “houses and fields [and vineyards] shall again be bought in this land,” it was a token of confidence in the future. That requires faith, and may God grant it to us daily. I don’t mean the faith that flees the world, but the faith that endures in the world and loves and remains true to that world in spite of all the hardships it brings us. Our marriage must be a ‘yes’ to God’s earth. It must strengthen our resolve to do and accomplish something on earth. I fear that Christians who venture to stand on earth on only one leg will stand in heaven on only one leg too.
Dorothy Sayers, playwright, novelist and Christian scholar, wrote an important work in the 1930s entitled, Are Women Human? In her essay, she presents the biblical case for gender equality in a humorous and insightful way, grounding mutuality in theological anthropology. From the Genesis narratives to the new earth of Revelation, she affirms this thesis:
We are all human beings, made in the image of God with a job to do. And we do our jobs as a man or a woman.
This theological vision — of men and women in mutual love and respect carrying out their vocations for the glory of God and the good of others — undergirds the best of ecclesial, economic, political, and social liberty, and it has implications for the full range of human interactions and relationships. Notice the order of reflection: Creator > human identity > the call to worship/work > gender identity.
Alas, the effacing (not erasing) of the imago dei has led humankind down all manner of oppressive pathways, from dehumanizing and disintegrating practices of pagan and secular ideologies to the degrading subjugation of women, minorities, and many others in the name of “religious tradition.”
For followers of Jesus, a full vision of God’s reign includes living the future now in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the church as the herald and witness of the fullness to come. This includes redeeming the wholeness of being human, integrating all facets of individual and social being, including relational shalom. Women and men who love Jesus are icons of the coming kingdom. Singleness is not incompleteness, but a signpost of a future where all God’s people are married to Christ and sisters and brothers of one another. Marriage is a special illumination of Christ’s delight in his church, not a superior status. (more…)
The Vatican is currently hosting a three-day inter-faith conference and discussion entitled Humanum. According to their website, it is
… a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.
Witnesses will draw from the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.
One of the focal points of this gathering is a beautiful set of videos, each centered on a particular aspect of love, marriage, family and commitment. The video below allows young people to voice their concerns and ideas regarding these issues. (Unless you’re a polyglot, you’ll want your closed captioning turned on; just hit the little “CC” button in the lower right of the frame.)
It has become a regular occurrence at conservative publications to note the strong correlation between traditional marriage and family and higher income levels. Take, for example, Ari Fleischer, who wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal last June:
If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family.
He continues, “One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order.”
Despite my traditionalist leanings, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these sorts of editorials. For example, contrast this with Ben Steverman’s recent article in Bloomberg:
Divorce among 50-somethings has doubled since 1990. One in five adults have never married, up from one in ten 30 years ago. In all, a majority of American adults are now single, government data show, including the mothers of two out of every five newborns.
These trends are often blamed on feminists or gay rights activists or hippies, who’ve somehow found a way to make Americans reject tradition.
But the last several years showed a different powerful force changing families: the economy.
He goes on: (more…)
In case you hadn’t noticed, “manly Christianity” has become somewhat of a thing. From the broad and boilerplate Braveheart analogies of John Eldredge to the UFC-infused persona of the now embattled Mark Driscoll, evangelical Christianity has been wrestling with how to respond to what is no doubt a rather serious crisis of masculinity.
Such responses vary in their fruitfulness, but most tend to only scratch the surface, prodding men to spend more time with the wife and kids (good), provide more steadily and sacrificially for their household (also good), spend more time in God’s creation (also good, I suppose), and eat more chicken wings and do more Manly Things™ (debatable).
Due to a complex web of factors, some more controllable than others, society and culture have increasingly promoted a full-pronged infantilization of modern man, driven by or paired with its increasingly hollow philosophy of love and life. Thus, Roberts concludes, “The recovery of Christian masculinity will only occur as we commit ourselves to the restoration of biblical Christianity and the recovery of the weight and stakes of its moral universe.”
I have routinely written about the challenges of raising kids (particularly boys) in an age where economic prosperity, convenience, and a host of other newfound privileges make it easier than ever to insulate ourselves from external risks and skip past formative processes that were once built-in features of existence (e.g. manual labor). When it comes to the cultivation of the soul, our character, and the human imagination, what do we lose in a world wherein work, service, and sacrifice have been largely replaced by superficial pleasures and one-dimensional modes of formation? (more…)
“Deadbeat Dads”—absent fathers who don’t provide financial support for their children—are one of the most significant factors contributing to child poverty in America. So why do some single women have children outside of marriage when they know they will receive little to no support from the child’s father?
A new study from the University of Georgia and Boston College attempts to answer that question. The authors created an economic model to simulate a scenario in which every absent father was forced to pay child support. As the researchers note, “Looking at the data through the lens of this ‘perfect enforcement’ scenario caused the picture to change.”
Could our strong marriages and great interpersonal relationships be a threat to the state? Stella Morabito thinks so. In a piece at The Federalist, Morabito says the State has something to lose when culture promotes traditional marriage, strong families and ties to the community. She examines a Slate article in which Lily and Carl (a fictional couple) are facing an unexpected pregnancy. They aren’t married, don’t care to be, and Lily (who has few community relationships outside of work) sees no advantages to marrying. Corabito says that the Slate article, which claims that women want and need their “freedom” and that few marriageable men are to be found, needs a strong second look.
Let’s start by looking at Lily as a real person. She is in need of relationships, intimacy, and a life not overwhelmingly dominated by 9-to-5 drudgery. Let’s consider Carl a real human being also. Yes he needs a job, but he also needs the same things as Lily: to feel respected, connected, and useful to others. They both need to feel anchored to something worthwhile, not like displaced persons wandering about life. How does such anchoring happen? Through strong relationships with real people.
Most telling in the Slate piece is this throwaway line about Lily: “She has very few friends, married or unmarried, in strong relationships.” That is a statement worthy of deep exploration.