16 Jan Spiritual Family: A Bond More Enduring Than Marriage
I recently published a follow up to the article I wrote in the spring for Equip, an organization run by Pieter Valk and dedicated to supporting sexual minorities in the church. My article in the spring challenged evangelical notions of the relational primacy of the nuclear family, and this article follows up to expand upon these thoughts. Check out the excerpt below or read the whole article on Equip’s blog.
“I wrote a guest post for Equip last spring which addressed the priority of spiritual family in the Christian life. I’d like to follow up on that post by engaging in some more reflection on the ideas I presented. In an age where more and more people feel ostracized by the church, this discussion may be more important now than ever before, at least in American culture. Getting the family of God wrong means getting the church wrong! And that’s something we just can’t afford.
For single and celibate people, the stakes are particularly high, especially for celibate gay Christians. Lifelong celibacy means surrendering the possibility of biological family in pursuit of the Kingdom of God. In exchange, the Bible promises a family that is ‘many times more’ in this life (Luke 18:28-30), a spiritual family that is more meaningful than anything a traditional family could offer. Unfortunately, celibate gay Christians struggle to find such a family.
Notably, Rosaria Butterfield, who is well-known for her contribution to discussions on same-sex attraction in the church touches on a number of ideas relevant to this discussion in her book The Gospel Comes with a House Key. In a recent article, she had some strong words to say about the state of Christian community:
‘[Christians] have swapped out the biblical priority that the church is the family of God for a counterfeit that says the blood of biology ranks higher than the blood of Christ. And when we do this, we toss the most vulnerable brothers and sisters under the bus. The Christian life comes in exchange for the life (and sometimes the family) we once had, not in addition to it.’
It’s no coincidence that Butterfield’s book comes out during a cultural moment when more and more people see the church as a place of hatred (especially towards gay people) rather than a profound embodiment of supernatural love. When we consider that Scripture ties our very identity as a people of God to our larger reputation for love (see John 13:24), there may be no greater indictment against the church today.” read more