There has been significant energy around the topic of marriage and family over at Faith and Theology and Inhabitatio Dei. Ben has asked pastors and the church broadly to excuse itself from the civil acts of weddings until something more theologically responsible can be engaged. Halden has been more brazen uncovering the idolatry of marriage and family as it typically exists in the evangelical church and particularly in his new favourite nemesis Mark Driscoll.
I fully confess that my life is marked increasingly by something that Halden would liken to idolatry. In the past ten years I have lived and worked in some of the most dangerous and impoverished communities in
However, this month we moved into a small house in the country that we are renting. It is so peaceful here and our neighbours are so supportive.
I feel some guilt . . . but it is only slight. I am offering increased attention to my wife and our household duties which now includes a garden (and hopefully a pig that we will butcher ourselves). We are also thinking of starting a family. This is all taking greater time and energy that I what used to devote in my urban context.
I am rambling like this because while I appreciate the critiques about family being offered there is always something humorous or perhaps sinister about academics critiquing family as though their commitments to study could somehow be cleansed in the process. To dare use an overused phrase by some the above mentioned bloggers, perhaps evangelicals (and the bloggers who critique them) have not elevated marriage and family enough. While yes there may be none ‘married and given in marriage’ in the Kingdom theologically marriage and family remains one of the most analogously fecund expressions we are given in life (I am of course expanding the notion beyond biological husband and wife). The ‘eviscerating call of the Crucifed and Resurrected One’ (Halden) is always towards marriage (to Christ, to justice, to neighbour . . . yes even to spouse) and not away from it. The form and expression of marriage is of course important but that is what should be at issue.
Our critiques should not be doing away with such possible expressions of faithfulness but adding to them. What I have added in the this move is the opportunity to get my hands dirty in a different way then I did in the urban contexts I lived in. Doing away with the theological expression of marriage is like doing away with the theological expression of land and its relationships. Through our social and economic system we have largely done away with expressions of land. We need to add and fortify this. I was reminded of an old post where I quoted Dostoyevsky having read Crime and Punishment for the first time. Faithful relationship to each other and land is weaved together as symptom and perhaps source of Raskolnikov’s apocalyptic social plague.
Raskolnikov was in hospital during the last weeks of Lent and Easter week. When convalescing, he remembered the dreams he had while running a high temperature and in delirium. He dreamt the whole world was ravaged by an unknown and terrible plague that had spread across