Filed under: brave new world | Tags: Christianity, evangelicals, family values, fear, home
Ah, how I loathe the culture wars. We are walking out of a battle field now, one on which the definitions of family were ravaged. Here is a clearer view.
The prevailing orthodoxy claims that family is foundational to good society and living. They emphasize blood lines and values and remove their kids from public schools. It is a loving inward gaze.
The alternate view is that such self love can lead to territoriality and fear of the outsider. And it seems that when asked, most people believe that family values means looking beyond the family. Maybe that’s what loving your neighbour is: that to really love, we must look past ourselves, our bloodlines, our tribe, and try to understand and love ‘other’ people.
Salon-The U.S. News article cited a 1997 poll in which 75 percent of 950 adults said moms with kids under 3 who work outside the home are threatening family values.
Coontz-You know these polls change from day to day depending on how they’re phrased. If you phrase the question, “Are women who work neglecting their kids?” the overwhelming majority will say no. In many cases, because it is the only vocabulary people have to express their concern, they’ll use the conservative term “family values,” but when you press people on what they mean by that, they’ll define it in a totally different way than the right wing does. The public defines it in terms of teaching your kids to look beyond the family. They define it in terms of reaching out to get involved in community activities. Whereas the right-wing definition of family values is extraordinarily narrow — even in terms of the history of Christianity. Christ was quite anti-family. He said that family bonds can interfere with your commitment to the larger Christian community. And the early evangelicals took pains to always talk about the Christian household, to indicate that you had to reach beyond the narrow, selfish ties of sexual attraction and the narcissistic ties of blood in order to look out for the larger community.
May 20, 1997, “Christ was quite anti-family”, STEPHANIE COONTZ ON THE WAY WE WEREN’T — AND ARE, Salon.com
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