|Children Fighting by Johann Grund|
But it does not follow that because the family can be made into an idol that the family is not important to Christianity.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I believe that ideas have consequences but isn't it also true that consequences lead to ideas?
The current issue of MHAJ carries an interview with Mary Eberstadt concerning her book How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization which makes the case that the decline of the family is a precursor to the decline of Christianity not always the other way around. When the family loses meaning in a society, Christianity loses meaning for those people.
"It is commonplace to observe that ideas have consequences,that theories often lead to practices, that what we think about something will shape how we behave. It is not as well recognized that ideas have antecedents, that practices often lead to theories, that the way we are used to behaving will establish intuitions that guide our thinking. Ideas explicitly expressed in the form of statements or arguments are often the way we articulate a set of instinctual pre-verbal assumptions about reality. Assumptions that have been acquired by the experience of the patterns of everyday life."
Thus begins the Mars Hill Audio Journal interview with Mary Eberstadt on family and secularization.
"Ideas influence behavior and patterns of behavior influence ideas."
"Family decline powers loss of faith."
We are seeing the beginnings of the non-family. In very secularized countries like Sweden we are seeing more and more households of just one and in many ways that is how I picture present day Britain, not as a country of thriving families but rather as a series of individuals. This rapid change in the structure of society has brought with it rapid secularization. Then there is Japan, a country that is looking more and more androgynous.
"Changes in family formation are driving religious belief."
I remember talking to a group of Chinese teachers visiting America several years ago during Thanksgiving at my sister's house. These non-Christian women were fascinated by our large family and by homeschooling. They asked question after question and finally one of them said to me, "I worry about my son because he not only does he not have siblings but in one generation we have lost all concept of cousins or aunts and uncles."
I had never ever thought about how quickly a society changes with a one-child policy. In one generation whole swaths of family life are removed.
This also brings us around to the idea put forth by George Gilder in Men and Marriage that the most destructive force in the world is the single male. The single male is a good warrior but a bad citizen.
We are living in a rapidly crumbling infrastructure. To be honest, I am embarrassed that I ever listened to men like Doug Philips, but it doesn't follow that the family is not important or that I am sorry I had 9 real children.
Children make us better people and often better Christians. In our family, I am comforted when I see my unmarried sons love their nieces and nephews. The most successful single people I know ally themselves to children and families.
This is all part of that tether I keep talking about. Our children are actually the tethers that hold us to the past, to our heritage, to our Christianity. As weird as it sounds to our modern ears, in so many ways we are saved through childbearing (I Timothy 2:11).
Motherhood is a high calling. Civilization is closely tied to motherhood. Don't get me wrong I do not think you should lose yourself so thoroughly in motherhood that that is all you are because that is not healthy for you or your family, but I do think women need to know that motherhood is a high value commodity in the market of civilization.
As you begin this new year, Mama, do so knowing that you are really the first pillar of education. You are a vital part of the infrastructure of culture, family and even Christianity.
This is not about having the perfect family or the perfect school. Your success or failure doesn't rest on your perfection just your faithfulness. Your family is going to be a mess sometimes. You could cure this by not having a family at all, the modern choice. Western Civilization does not rest on perfect families but on the imperfect ones. Yours and mine.