Family Idolatry: A Q Zone EXTRA

hqdefaultOne of the questions that came in during the 10:30 service delved into the matter of whether or not our children—or families for that matter—can become an idol. And if so, is there danger in that?

Though I answered the first part of the question with a clear-cut ‘yes,’ I did not expound on the answer due to time. But I could sense in the wording of the question that a little more information around this topic is probably what the questioner was actually wanting.

At the risk of being repetitious, let me restate that both our children and/or families can become an idol. Like I said Sunday, it’s one thing to live with a “family priority” mindset, quite another to engage in family idolatry. What’s the difference? Here’s one for sure—A good thing becomes a ‘god’ thing when we try to derive from it meaning and significance only God can give, or ascribe to it worship and awe only God should receive.

Take children for example. No doubt too many parents seek to find their own worth from their children, pushing them to “succeed” just so they (the mom and dad) can feel good about themselves. They wear their children like a badge of accomplishment for their intended purposes instead of fashioning them like arrows for God’s intended purposes. In the end, this faulty approach is actually a crushing weight when parents discover their children can’t give them the deep, ultimate sense of value they were craving. Only God can do that internal work by his Spirit and through his grace.

How is this dangerous? In principle, it sets us at odds with God our Maker. Elevating anything we make or have to a god-like status and ascribing worship to it is sin (Romans 1). That’s dangerous.

But practically, I don’t know how this plays out. Only God knows and determines how and in what ways he will conquer a wandering, idolatrous heart. I would suggest one not focus on what God might do (and how) and instead concentrate on what you should do (and now)—fight hard against your idols; keep yourself from them (1 John 5:21).

Here’s a shoe-leather suggestion that pertains to children and families: Raise your kids for release. In other words, the target for your parenting is God’s will for their life. Don’t assume that includes making sure they stay in close proximity, or even in “safe” America. It may, or may not be, the best option once they are grown. The best option is God’s will, wherever that may be. To try and prevent them from obeying God’s call, for whatever reason, is to put them, and you, in a dangerous place I think. After all, the truly safest place spiritually is right in the middle of where God wants to use them, regardless of physical location.

Much more has been said on this from people much wise than me, so here is some insight from a number of collected articles on this matter, some more recent than others.

Signs We Are Worshipping the Family

Do Christian Parents Flirt with the Idol of Safety?

Discipleship and the Idols of Family and Culture

Do Christian Parents Flirt with the Idol of Education?

Worshiping at the Altar of Family

Jesus’ Theology of Family

How do you see the idolatry of family playing out in our 21st century? What cautions do you have for parents? Children? Love to hear from our readers, so feel free to share.

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