Leaving Christianism Behind, Ctd

A reader writes:

I found the David Platt video interesting. But one thing occurred to me when I watched it: Jesus never had kids. It's all well and good for Jesus to say that you should sell all of your belongings, but he never had a child to raise.  How does one balance the austerity teachings of Jesus with the concept of child-rearing? I certainly don't have any answers.  But I can't help but wonder if there's not a path from this dissonance that leads to suburban Christianism.

This is what I call the Jesus Family Problem. Much of the Christianist right is dedicated to the structure of the mid-20th century nuclear patriarchal family. You will find few words mentioned as often as "family" in Christianist circles. And while there is no doubt that the family is a core and vital social institution, and worth defending and expanding (to gays), it has very little backing in the Gospels or New Testament. Jesus was distinct for his refusal to marry and his celibacy. He told all his immediate disciples to drop everything - including abandoning their wives and children - to follow him. The only women in his entourage - even more shockingly - were unmarried. He stayed overnight in the house of two unmarried sisters, Mary and Martha, an act that would have drawn the ire of the Fox News and the mainstream rabbis of the time.

He publicly rebuked his parents when they were completely justified in worrying about him as a young man lost in the Temple. He told his followers that they would have to hate their spouses and family members if they were to follow him. He urged a life totally incompatible with the responsibility of caring for a child or a spouse - a life of homelessness, begging, and indifference to the future, which he predicted would end soon anyway.

This radicalism doesn't fully permeate the new evangelicalism of David Platt and others. Which is why their radicalism is still helpfully, if less obviously, circumscribed by the contours of mainstream evangelicalism. But Jesus' message is a dangerous one for the religious left as well as the religious right. It takes you where few want to go. Which was, of course, the point.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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