"there is always something humorous or perhaps sinister about academics critiquing family as though their commitments to study could somehow be cleansed in the process. To dare use an overused phrase by some the above mentioned bloggers, perhaps evangelicals (and the bloggers who critique them) have not elevated marriage and family enough."He continues:
Our critiques should not be doing away with such possible expressions of faithfulness but adding to them [...] Doing away with the theological expression of marriage is like doing away with the theological expression of land and its relationships. Through our social and economic system we have largely done away with expressions of land. We need to add and fortify this.My impression of Halden's and Ben's critiques is that they are mounted in an effort to guard our resurrection faith by preventing an overzealous appeal to what we might consider "natural" sources of revelation and faith. Despite the fact that God declared His creation good, its original tragic finitude and even more so its corrupted state of sin disallows any ultimate provision of revelatory truth, and seeking this in nature becomes a matter of idolatry (Rom. 1:25). Indiefaith offers an alternative to crude idolatry by describing the place of marriage and family (and land, etc.) as "expressions of faithfulness". As acts of expression, institutions such as marriage and family serve their purpose in directing us to faith without compromising the priority of divine grace at work in us. We must remain rooted in these expressions, however, for God's purpose in them to be effectual. The same might be said for sacramental devotion, which roots the Christian life in liturgical expressions of faithfulness (Christ's to us... ours to our neighbor...). Indiefaith's example of our relationship to the land as an exemplar of faithfulness is also important, perhaps one of the most important social expressions outside of the immediate ties of family and community. I'm reminded of Wendell Berry's call to rootedness in and nurture of the land. A recent article on the blue crabs of the Chesapeake Bay addresses the extent to which an ignorance of naturally rooted expressions of faithfulness tear apart the life that God blesses; this crisis is close to home for me, and local concerns of many others are likewise applicable.
While I appreciate the concern of Ben and Halden that we in our rootedness might fall into idolatry~ that panegyric may turn to outright doxology~ I think the faithlessness that the Church currently wrestles with is one that results from an idolatry of things other than the natural gifts in which God roots us in expression of His faithfulness. The disorder of cosmopolitan life that both distracts our worship and our relationship with land, family, and community, has (in my mind) done more to damage faithfulness than any overcommitment to marriage and family.