- The Definition. There is no real definition of Family Values. Articles, blog posts, and entire books have been devoted to the topic. There may be some core, central values, but they are amended by each individual, rendering a definition useless and discussion heated. The old, “Well, everyone knows what it means,” does not apply. Before entering into a sermon or dialog with others it is wise to find common principles and understanding.
- The Politics. When a particular political party lays claim to family values, they are eroding the entire basis for respect. If something is a Value, Moral, or Truth, it is universal in nature applying to the whole of a society, all political parties, all religions, all genders. To claim to be the exclusive followers of Family Values just plain stinks of self-righteousness. “Standing on the street corners to be seen by others,” or wearing a lapel pin do not equal Family Values.
- The exclusion. Family Values, as practiced by many, is an attempt to exclude others–those who are in some way different. It is much easier to spend time with those who have similar views–indeed, similar appearances. We can make our inside jokes, poke fun at others, and not allow them into our circle. It is easier to close ourselves in after 6:00 for “family time.” And what happens to the world outside that closed door? It is in darkness, and that darkness may come knocking. Aren’t we called to be light not hidden under a basket–or behind a door?
- The Community. Those who practice the exclusivity mentioned above actually undermine nuclear families because engagement in the community is both the groundwork for families and its support. Without community, the family is fragile and easily broken. Except for the knuckleheads who claim to have “built the cabin they were born in,” we recognize the need for community support. The librarian who remembers your favorite mystery series, the pastor who knows your heart and gifts, small study groups, football fans, a neighborhood, our schools are all part of the community.
Why is this important to us now? We have raised our families.
Well, first of all, because women often bear the brunt of expectations and criticism for family values. If we speak out, we are not being “submissive,” If we have a career, we are accused of neglecting family. If we a stay at home, we are seen as being unsupportive. It’s not too late to demonstrate what a true family is–the Family of God. It is not too late to open that door to others who may be different. And seriously, we outlive men most of the time–have you ever seen rows of widowed men in the churches? No, it is row upon row of women. Women who are often lonely, afraid. Women who somehow lost a spouse–whose children live across a continent–women who are not married. Women who are invited to Thanksgiving but not Christmas “because that is for family.” We are called to be salt–let’s get out of the shaker.