So is the Bible "family-friendly"?
I asked the guy from "Focus on the Family" that question. A great guy. Totally appreciate what they do at "Plugged In Online", where they review the content of movies and such, since I've always been strict with what my kids see and hear. But his answer was wrong.
You guys rate things on a family-friendly level according to "stars". Given the content of the Bible, how many "stars" would you give it?
A pause. "Five."
Really? So, if there was a movie, realistically showing the actual stories in the Bible, you'd say it was appropriate for all viewers?
Man, I wouldn't take little kids to see Lot fathering his daughter's children. Maybe I'm more media-conservative than Focus on the Family...?
I know he gave the political answer, and the one he had to give. (Imagine Focus on the Family getting complaints, "The Bible's not 'Family-Friendly'???") But with due respect: You gotta be kidding me.
"Well," you might say, "it's family-friendly, because I read the Bible with my little ones every night…"
Well, you read SOME of the Bible. Parts of it. Why? Because you're a smart parent, and don't really want to be explaining what "like the emissions of horses" is all about, right before lights-out. That's Ezekiel 23, and that's for starters. Nevermind Lot getting his own daughters pregnant, or Samson taking advantage of prostitutes or Noah getting naked and trashed, or Song of Solomon's well-known lusty stuff. Kids have a sense of modesty, and wise parents protect that.
Here's another reason it's obvious: The Bible isn't family-friendly, because there's plenty of content that I couldn't share on the
air without a disclaimer. Or at all. I can read direct quotes from Jesus, on a Christian station, and send people to their computers for emails of complaint. "My kids were in the car, so I don't appreciate you talking about how prostitutes will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven before the religious leaders."
Other people notice the decidedly unclean, non-family-friendliness of the Bible. Many Muslim leaders criticize it for being full of "abhorrent tales of sexual escapades as done by the Bible's 'holiest' men." And, indeed, these stories ARE abhorrent, they ARE horrible, they ARE scandalous in the worst way if...
IF...God's ultimate, highest call on our lives is for us to be "family-friendly."
But it's not. Not even close.
"Well, okay, but but the Bible IS family-friendly, because it shows us the best way to put our families first, and..."
Actually it doesn't do that, either. The Bible doesn't buttress the primacy of the family. It threatens it.
For those who want to idolize the importance of the nuclear family, Jesus, himself, is a threat. He turned the entire idea of family on its head.
He says his kingdom matters more than your family, and my family, in Matthew 19. He does it again, in explicit terms, in Luke 14.
He says the poor, the imprisoned, the sick are his brothers and sisters in Matthew 25.
Shockingly, in Matthew 12, he compares his - what we would call - "real" mother and brothers with the people who were following him. And he said the LATTER group, anyone who "does the will of my Father" is his real brother, and sister, and mother. He redefines family, itself.
"Yes, but that was a different time, and family is much more important now, in these troubled times."
I've thought that before, too, but... it's exactly wrong. Family was your very IDENTITY at that time. Your past, present, and future, all in one. It was ALL about family. And Jesus, God among us, redefined it. And no, it didn't go over well then, either.
For the believer, the Jesus-follower, "family" is redefined, and the centrality of our nuclear, physical family, is threatened. Like the old western, Jesus walks into town, confronts our worship of other things, even good things, like our families, and says, "There ain't room in town for the two of us."
I thought about ending the blog, here. But then I anticipated the responses, attempts to take the shocking reality of Jesus, and simply make it fit what we're already doing. "Well, thanks, Brant! This is all true, of course, etc., but it doesn't mean we shouldn't care about our families, and…"
Yes, yes, of course. But don't use that as a means of escaping what Jesus is saying, here: If you are a believer, you are part of the body of Christ, and that means integrating your life, with others, in a way that recognizes this new conception of family.
It does not mean retrofitting the radical teachings of Jesus to keep doing the same thing. And that's good news, because the way of Jesus is BETTER, even if it doesn't fit our idea of what a "good Christian" looks like.
Imagine: Your money. Your time. Your home. Your everything, woven with the lives of others. Less isolation, less stressful relationships in the home, more healthy marriages, and true families for the lonely, the orphan, the widow, the divorcee, the single, or the misfit. Jesus has a plan, and it's a good one. Don't short-circuit it by defending your status quo. (Frankly, as America becomes more post-Christian, we may find ourselves, by necessity, rediscovering just how great this family, his Real Family, is!)
No, by our definition of "family friendly", the Bible doesn't cut it. Once again, Jesus takes our little categories and leaves them in tatters.
And once again, he threatens us, because he loves us too much to let us stay the same.