Russell Moore decided to add to the many books on the family after he realized many Christians have adopted a version of the prosperity gospel when it comes to such issues as marriage and parenting.
The author of the new book The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home told Baptist Press (BP) he recognized a “common theme” in his conversations with people in different states of family crisis. In part, “many Christians have an implicit ‘prosperity gospel’ when it comes to the family,” said Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“We falsely believe if we love Jesus and we follow the right steps that we will have nothing but peace and tranquility in family relationships,” Moore said in a Sept. 19 interview with Baptist Press. “That misunderstands what the Bible teaches about the family as an arena of spiritual warfare.”
It is a reason why, “when people are facing difficulties, they sometimes withdraw and assume that means that something is wrong with them rather than seeking the rest of the community of the body of Christ,” he said.
The Storm-Tossed Family, released Sept. 15 by B&H Publishing Group, offers guidance on the family in the context of the atoning death of Jesus, spiritual warfare and the church, while it addresses the topics of marriage, sexuality, divorce, children, parenting, household tensions and aging.
In the book, Moore writes the family comes with a “unique mixture … of joy and terror, of beauty and brokenness.”
“The cross shows us how we can find beauty and brokenness, justice and mercy, peace and wrath, all in the same place,” he writes. “The pattern of the Christian life is crucified glory – this is as true for our lives in our families as in everything else.”
Moore told BP, “[I]t seems that every aspect of family life is ultimately humiliating in the sense that it tends to bring us to the end of our resources where we really need the Spirit, we need the church. And I think that’s intentional, and I think that as people of the cross we ought to see that God’s glory often shows up in places that seem to be the most difficult and broken.”
In the book, he writes, “The family is one of the pictures of the gospel that God has embedded in the world around us. Through a really dark glass, we can see flashes in the family of something at the core of the universe itself, of the Fatherhood of God, of the communion of a people with one another.”
It is not accidental that Satan “seeks, in every generation, to disrupt the peace of the marriage covenant, of the integrity of the sexual union, of the parent/child bond, of the unity of the church as the household of God,” he writes. “Family is spiritual warfare.
“Family humbles us,” Moore writes. “Family humiliates us. Family crucifies us. That’s because family is one of the ways God gets us small enough to fight the sort of battle that can’t be won by horses or chariots but by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Christians must realize family is important but not pre-eminent, Moore says.
In his interview with BP, Moore said, “[W]e can love the family best when the family is second in our priorities. If we seek first the kingdom, then we don’t see our families as some ultimate expressions of ourselves, which means that we cannot pin all of our hopes and expectations on the family, which only leads to disappointment.
“I will often find husbands or wives, for instance, who are resentful of their spouses because they’re expecting a soul mate who can meet every expectation of their entire lives. That’s a ruinous path,” he told BP. “And I’ve seen many homes where parents have pinned all of their sense of the future on their children as being successes in the world or as valedictorians of their class … which also leads to disappointment on the part of the parents and often resentment on the part of the children.
“But if we know that Jesus has a kingdom waiting for us and my entire life is not dependent on having a picture-perfect presentation of my family, then I’m able to really love my family in all of its reality.”
The church is vital in considering the family, Moore writes in the book.
“The church is not a collection of families,” he writes. “The church is a family.
“That means no Christian lives alone, and no Christian dies alone. There’s no such thing as a ‘single’ Christian.”
Moore writes, “We must recognize the joys and responsibilities that come with being part of a family formed not by the blood of biology but the blood of crucifixion.”
He told BP, “The Bible speaks of the church as the household of God and speaks of our places in the church as being that of brothers and sisters and even spiritual fathers and mothers within the church. That sort of kinship and family is a counter-cultural act that really reveals the beauty and the newness of the gospel.”
It is “counter-productive” for Christians to be only with people who are in the same demographic or life season, and the church can help avoid that mistake, Moore said.
“We need people older than we are to help shepherd us through life changes that we don’t even see coming,” he said. “And we need to be pouring our lives out on those who are younger who will be facing issues they can’t see around the bend right now.”
The Storm-Tossed Family is available at LifeWay Christian Stores, among other booksellers, and Amazon.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)