It Takes a Village

When Hillary came out with her book, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” it was met with a howl of outrage and protest from conservatives and evangelicals, who responded with, “No! ‘It Takes a Family to Raise a Child!'” Rick Santorum wrote such a book praised by Dobson and Robertson’s organization.

For generations, the trend among evangelicals has been to view the family as the basis of all spirituality. Santorum’s book was hailed by the Christian organizations as, “based on sound values — including the centrality of the family to all social and political life.” In Western Christianity, “church” is typically a one-hour affair on Sunday morning to serve as a family outing.

The evangelicals were mistaken, however. And therein lies the heart of the problem with fundamentalist conservatism: it’s all about “Family Values”. The home is a fortress against the World System, dominated by fathers, who are often carnal, materialistic and emotionally sick from career-driven lives in pursuit of prosperity.

It isn’t working. My generation (40 and over) is the last one to be familiar with Christianity. Aside from the mass exodus of the church by youth (see the Barna article), there is a wholesale rejection of Christian doctrine and world view:

  • Only 20% of teens (after college) maintain regular activity with a church
  • 70% of evangelical youth will leave their church and denomination.
  • 75% of teens have engaged in witchcraft or psychic phenomenon.
  • Rejection of Universal Truth among evangelical youth: in 1991 52%, in 1996 62%, in 2000 78%, in 2004 91%.
  • Biblical inspiration and inerrancy: in 1995 only 10% agreed, now it is under 4%.

The family is not the highest value in life (a surprise to many), the kingdom of God is. The family stands to serve God (Mt. 6:33). True, there is probably no greater blessing and joy than a Christ-centered family, but it is not an end unto itself. God wants us and our children to be committed to him first, then to the rest of the family (Mar 12:29; Luke 14:26).

Successful Christian families are plugged into a vital, thriving church life, the research shows:

“In situations where children became mature Christians we usually found a symbiotic partnership between their parents and their church. The church encouraged parents to prioritize the spiritual development of their children and worked hard to equip them for that challenge. Parents, for their part, raised their children in the context of a faith-based community that provided security, belonging, spiritual and moral education, and accountability. Neither the parents nor the church could have done it alone.”Barna Research

For this reason, Barna concludes, “ministry to young people may be the single most strategic ministry activity” we could undertake in the church.

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