As a husband and father of five boys, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is a bona fide family man. His latest book, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, offers a biblical vision for family that bears Christian witness in the world. Writer Jen Pollock Michel spoke with Moore about the promise and peril of family life.
Compared to previous generations, what new anxieties and challenges do today’s families experience?
Twenty or thirty years ago, many Christians worried almost exclusively about ways to protect the institutions of marriage and family from outside cultural forces like television or the sexual revolution. That anxiety is still present, but I find the biggest problem today is two-sided. First, we idealize family. Many Christians expect a family life that’s tranquil and idyllic; when they encounter struggles, it throws them off.
But at the same time we idealize family, we also diminish it. You see this in our habit of equating family with the nuclear family as if it were simply Mom, Dad, and the kids in a minivan. But everyone is facing family issues. The single Christian is not someone who doesn’t deal with family. We are all sons and daughters, and even those who don’t know their parents feel that absence acutely. And as Christians, we’re all part of the family of God’s people.
You write, “The kingdom is first; the family is not.” How does this help reshape our common perspective on the family?
When we value the family above God’s kingdom, we actually end up destroying what we think we’re upholding. If kingdom comes first, this reveals why the family matters. Family ...1
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