Family Values?

The recent holiday season had me experiencing and thinking about family a lot.  I am finally at a point where I feel I need to speak up about something that I find to be tremendously troubling emanating from large sections of the Christian church. I have concluded that this is a blind spot that is harming our credibility and witness as followers of Jesus. I am talking about conservative Christians support for “family values.”

On the surface “family values” sounds perfectly innocuous. Kids deserve a married mother and father who provide stability, support and love throughout their lifetime. Promoting this standard is in societies and children’s interest. Unfortunately this laudable goal has become a phrase that demeans other family models, ignores their very existence and seeks to deny fellow Americans rights we all share.

It has come to this: when a conservative American Christian promotes “family values” they are directly and openly condemning the existence of LGBT families, regardless of their intention.

It does not have to be like this. Christians can follow their faith without directly infringing on the rights of LGBT families to exist. But we need to fix this blind spot that so many have when they say “family values.” What are some ways forward?

1) Recognize that LGBT families exist. Conservative Christians can promote “family values” all they want, but that is not going to break up happy, loving, committed LGBT families. These families love each other and their children just as much as any other family. There is common ground to be promoted here. Stability between two parents benefits children, regardless of their gender, and can be seen as a decidedly conservative value. We are dealing with real people who need God’s love. The sooner we recognize this fact the better. Wrestling with this recognition will be difficult for many Christians but ignoring this issue is hardly more feasible. I am still trying to figure out what this means for myself as well. I do not have all the answers but recognize that presently we are not loving people the way we should.

2) Recognize that LGBT families are helping. Regardless of how sinful you may think gay people are personally, they are becoming loving parents to children that need them. If every child in America had loving straight parents tonight that would be something worth considering but in reality there are hundreds of thousands of children in this country who are hoping to be adopted. To try and prevent capable gay couples from starting families of their own is not only incredibly hurtful to them but ignores the needs of children all over the country.

3) Recognize that”family” is a complex phenomena. People’s definitions of family are probably as diverse as the number of people on the planet. Are two parents ideal? Probably, but does that mean we should take children away from single parent homes? Of course not. A loving single parent can do exponentially more than two parents who are emotionally neglectful and/or abusive. Sometimes grandparents or other relatives or friends are left to raise the children and they do a tremendous job. The bottom line is that the American nuclear family is one model amongst many. We can promote this model while also supporting and strengthening all the models that actually exist and are benefiting children right now.

I realize I am raising difficult and complex issues with this entry. I also realize I have not reached a final conclusion on any of the things I address above. I really hope this entry is the start of a conversation between Christians and others about what it means to practice our faith today. This probably will not be my last entry on this topic. I hope you will engage and share your stories, thoughts and comments. I welcome them as openly as I can.


7 thoughts on “Family Values?

  1. Good thoughts Matt, first, one political question: what does LGBT stand for? second, are you saying then that when defining what a nuclear family is, it is not a theological issue but a personal one?

    At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that you know how I would address this topic, haha! So, here is my question: If Christians today begin to accept sinful(meaning against God’s commands, character, and revelation) lifestyles for the sake of “goodwill,” how will that keep Christianity set apart from the patterns of this world?
    Also, when a Christian shows love, we are to show love as Christ has(Christian=”little-Christ”) shown. He loved all people and desired all to repent and believe, but repentance involves change from one lifestyle to another. Christ died for sinners while they were still in sin, which means He did not wait conditionally to die for us but only in the magnitude of His grace in mercy did He buy us salvation by faith. But Christ in His holiness could never accept anyone outside of repentance, no matter their character of “goodwill.”

    For knowing you personally, I think I know where you’re getting at. I agree, many Christians do not show compassion to others, to the lost, in the way they probably should. But in a similar manner, many Christians do not stand for Truth and what it means to live Biblically. I agree though, politically and democratically, we do live in a nation that promotes freedom of religion and freedoms of that sort. But just because a nation is founded on these freedoms, does not mean the Church is to bend her knee to the nation. I have now brought up a huge can of worms, and a completely different topic you were talking about, but I believe it is of the same issue that the Church faces with this day: do we allow the culture to dictate what, how, and when the Scripture is interpreted, or is it more of a commission to simply submit to the authority of the Word of God. Thanks for “stirring our thoughts,” like you said, it is an issue that should not be overlooked! 🙂

    • Hey Hershey,
      Thanks for your comment man. You bring up a lot but I’ll try to address what I can.
      LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender people. The acronym seems to be constantly changing, I just tried to pick a simple common one. I should have spelled it out first in my blog though.
      As far as the nuclear family, it depends who you are. Christians would look for some Biblical model perhaps and non-christians would look elsewhere. That being said speaking generally about America, freedom rules the day. There are fantastic families with a mom, dad and two kids. There are terrible two parent with kids families. There are fantastic single parent homes and I’m sure some that are not ideal. And there are fantastic, loving LGBT parents with kids as I’m sure there are some that are not so ideal. I suppose my major point is we need to acknowledge and respect (and perhaps even support) these families as existing when we talk about family values, if for no other reason than to benefit the kids. I am not arguing to redefine the standard nuclear family but to accept the fact that other models exist and it helps no one to ignore them.
      You wrote more and I’ll try and think through a response soon! Thanks man!

      • Thanks so much for your reply, Matt. I believe I see more of your intended point. Nationalistically (see, i still like to make up words ;)…) speaking, or rather as a nation founded on self-entitled freedoms and obligations of enforcement of those ideals, I recognize your point of acknowledgment and respect. Don’t worry too much about my babble, haha, I may have gotten carried away (common problem for both of us i think).
        I guess the reason for my response is an attempt to make aware the more Biblical concern of definitions of family values. As Christians, we are to reflect the character of Christ. However, because of that, I cannot approve of the lifestyles that people choose themselves to live by. This is a common trend I think, that more and more we are looking for more ways to justify ourselves, and claim ignorance of calling sin, sin. But of course, many presuppositions are made off of this position, and many have already assumed this of my character and integrity even here. Granted, there are those who, under the “Christian” banner, speak words of hatred to those around them. I can guarantee that their judgment will be done justly; as will for all of us. But, there are some of us who strive to live humble and truthful lives. However, when it comes to these issues at hand i respect the position that many take in redefining values in an attempt to help people start looking at people as people.
        I hope at least you Matt, can see my passion for this issue: The Bible speaks of one message that we are directly commanded as God’s Ambassadors to deliver, and that is, “Be reconciled to God.” Christ Himself, began His ministry proclaiming, “Repent! And believe for the kingdom of heaven is near!” He shared the same message to all prostitutes, religious bigots, thieves, the greedy, and the everyday person with everyday struggles and pains. Some turned, and changed and believed and received life. The others, decided to crucify Him for His “harsh” message. That is why I think this is critical for American Christianity and what it needs to realize: it’s not about us choosing our path, choosing our desires, or choosing our freedoms; ultimately, it’s not about us at all. It’s about Christ, and the redemption He continually offers. But of course, Matt, you already know this 😉

  2. Increasing numbers of Christians recognise that the Bible condemns not all gay sex, but only in particular circumstances. Increasing numbers of churches welcome loving gay couples.

    The problem is that for some Christians, condemnation of gay people, perhaps because it is unjustifiable in moral argument, is a sibboleth of their own peculiar view of the Bible. They imagine that this makes them true Christians. And, some feel disgust if they think of gay people, and want their prejudices legitimated.

    That is a problem because the preaching of the latter group drives young gay people to suicide. And, it drives gay and straight people from the Church, because the latter group cannot show the love of Christ.

    Simple really. So I see that you are in exploration of this issue, but it matters, and I hope you come down against bullying of gay people.

    • Hi Clare,
      Thanks for your comment. Just to reference your last sentence. I certainly come down against bullying of gay people. I am about to become a teacher and I cannot teach students who do not feel safe. This is completely straightforward for me. Bullying of young people should never happen.

  3. Matt, I have questions for you. You are exploring, I am decided- but gay people testify that we cannot change our orientation. Do you accept our testimony, at least of the people who say that, if not of others who claim otherwise?

    Second, if it were not “clearly God’s will as revealed in the Bible” that gay sex is wrong, is there any independent moral argument that two people who so swear that they cannot change their orientation should not form an exclusive loving and sexual relationship?

    Answer if you wish.

    • Those are big questions Clare and I don’t feel like I can answer them properly in the comment section of my blog but stay tuned and I may be writing more on these topics as the year progresses! Thank you!

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