On issues of the family and scripture, Christians are in a bit of a pickle.
Jesus, for example, did not as the great spiritual and sentimental ificance to family life that many Christians do today. How then do we reconcile the expectation that all good Christians should marry with his example of lifelong celibacy? Endorsing family values poses particularly interesting issues for biblical egalitarians, since many of our fellow Bible-believers hold that these values should include a hierarchical model of marriage.
I New Testament historian S. Scott Bartchy in arguing that rather than support patriarchy, Jesus and other New Testament writers especially Paul intended to over- throw it.
One of the most important examples of how Jesus reoriented family values is found in Matthew — In this passage, the Pharisees attempt to entangle Jesus in a dispute about grounds for divorce. He refused to be drawn in, however, and replied that they should be more concerned about the grounds for marriage instead of arguing about divorce.
In their context, men married in order to meet their own material needs for children, sex, and household management. In this passage Jesus challenged another ancient family value—the expectation that every respectable person should marry.
He noted several reasons why people might choose not to marry, including the decision to devote themselves entirely to the kingdom of heaven v. Between this teaching and his own example of celibacy, Jesus made it clear that it was acceptable for godly people to remain single.
This was a radical claim, since singleness had rarely been an option before. Historically, most marriages were arranged by families to further their own interests, often with little consideration for the preferences of the bride and groom. This was particularly true for women, who were valued mostly for their ability to contract a good marriage and bear children.
Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?
In allowing believers to remain single and challenging married people to renounce the self-centered way in which they lived together, Jesus reminded us that God created human sexuality as a blessing :. So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
The imperative in verse 28 is not a command. Rather, marriage, children, and sexuality itself are blessings, gifts of God to human beings.
As such, human beings may partake of them or not. Ancient societies considered adultery to be a crime against men. Jesus said that what was truly admirable about his mother, or anyone, was that obedience and faith.
What was important about individual women or men was not their ability to bear or father children, but rather that they heard the word of God, and obeyed it. This redefinition of blessedness opened the door to bonds that extend beyond physical kinship. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his.
Children will rebel against their parents, and have them put to death.
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Everyone will hate you because of me, but those who stand firm to the end will be saved. Mark —13 TNIV. Ancient patriarchy placed great value on family prestige, which could only be increased at the expense of other families. Because of this intense competition, only family members could be trusted.
Who are my mother and brothers?
By making the kingdom of heaven the source of their primary relationships, believers are redeemed from the materialism of the Fall. Jesus did not intend for his disciples to abandon their biological families altogether, but rather he challenged them to abandon the self-serving family structures—especially when these old allegiances interfered with their higher duty to serve God. Once we renounce our desire to cling to self-interest, reconciling duty to God with love of family is not difficult. For example, Paul writes that children should obey their parents, a notion consistent with patriarchy.
Fathers, however, must not use that obedience for their own purposes, as they had in the past. Rather, they now use it to serve their children, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Eph. Jesus said that he came to serve, not to be served Mark ; Matt.
The husband does this not by leading his wife, and certainly not by ruling over her, but rather by nurturing and serving her in such a way that they grow together, head and body, into one flesh. This represents a major and positive shift in motives; nonetheless, the fallen impulse to use other people to fulfill self-centered needs remains. But if we do start our own families, Jesus taught that we have deep responsibilities to our spouse and children.
In marriage, we must strive for a life-long, one flesh relationship. As parents, we have children not to meet our own needs for love, but to raise a godly generation who loves the Lord. These are family values of the kingdom of heaven, and truly the only values worth living.
Reading through the gospels 79
Miles March 05, Advanced Search. Tip: to find an exact phrase or title, enclose it in quotation marks. Academic Article.
Book Review. Featured Articles. Singleness In this passage Jesus challenged another ancient family value—the expectation that every respectable person should marry.
In allowing believers to remain single and challenging married people to renounce the self-centered way in which they lived together, Jesus reminded us that God created human sexuality as a blessing : So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Family Responsibility Jesus did not intend for his disciples to abandon their biological families altogether, but rather he challenged them to abandon the self-serving family structures—especially when these old allegiances interfered with their higher duty to serve God.
Throughout this passage, Jesus upholds the caveat that divorce is permissible for the innocent party.
Bartchy, p. Marriage, Sexuality. From Issue:.