The Storm-Tossed Family - A Review

Families are under attack and the only hope for them is to be reshaped by the cross of Christ.

That might sound like a reactionary statement, which could be accompanied by a decline narrative and commentary on how much worse things are today. However, as a central idea of Russell Moore’s recent book, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, he provides evidence that the family has always been critical and has always been a spiritual battle ground.

Moore writes, “Family can enliven us or crush us because family is about more than the just the life cycle of our genetic material. Family is spiritual warfare.”

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The spiritual importance of the family is made evident in the pages of Scripture. Even before one of the Ten Commandments anchors the family in the very character of God, we read of Satan’s attempt to disrupt the first family by tempting Eve to sin. Shortly after that we read of one brother killing another out of jealousy. The Bible is clear that the family is a focal point for satanic attack and that the disruption of the family is one of the clearest evidences of sin in the world.

Logically, we must ask why that is.

Again, Moore helps to explain, “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.”

The balance of the volume explores the nature of the family, the corrosive ideas that are negatively impacting our families, and offers a better vision for the good of the family.

The Storm-Tossed Family is reasonably comprehensive. After introducing the concept of family being spiritual warfare Moore begins by identifying points where contemporary culture conflicts with a cross shaped vision of the family, tearing down mistaken ideas and offering a better version of the family.

This process begins with Moore’s affirmation that the Kingdom of God is the primary concern of Christians, not the family. Here he is debunking the dangerous idea that the function of the church is somehow social or political—to preserve the nuclear family—rather than spiritual.

The most important distinction in that important, but secondary, concept of the family is that the family is a picture of the gospel, not the gospel itself. No one comes to Christ because they see a strong nuclear family. They come to Christ because they recognize their need for a savior and the hope that he offers.

Additionally, Moore deconstructs one of the ongoing myths of Christian sub-culture by reminding readers that the church is a family. Thus, the hyper-territorial parenting styles that are a fairly common occurrence in children’s church and the preference of “family time” over church activities in all or most cases represents a deviation from the pattern outlined in Scripture, particularly the New Testament.

Subsequently, the place of singles in the body of Christ becomes less questionable. No longer is the local church projected as a way to support the nuclear family in a hostile world. It does that, to be sure, but the primary purpose is to be a family to exemplify the gospel. Thus, singles are an integral part of the body, not a loosely attached appendage consigned to a class of misfits on a Sunday morning.

The themes that Moore tracks down are plentiful, and the above paragraphs provide just a few examples. He also delves into human sexuality, pointing out where the church has conceded a great dal of ground to the world around—we are, as Moore has argued frequently, often simply slow-moving sexual revolutionaries. As long as we are a few decades behind society, we feel like we are being sufficiently conservative. The point, however, is not to be conservative per se, but to be biblically faithful.

The Storm-Tossed Family is an important book for our age. Moore manages to highlight errors prevalent in even the most theologically orthodox churches while holding firm to the positive patterns of family that are indicated (though rarely exemplified) in Scripture. The connection between the gospel and proper function of the family is, without question, the central theme of this book.

The good news in this book is the good news: Christ came to redeem us from our sin. One of the most affirming and reassuring anecdotes in this book is of a man, realizing he had failed often and significantly as a father, being told that Christ would redeem his failures. The message is not that it is ok to fail, as if all the wrong we do will be undone, but that in Christ all things will work together for good. Repentance is real, powerful, and effective. God doesn’t change the past, but he will redeem it through the blood of Christ. That is the sort of hope that all of us imperfect people need to hear about.

NOTE: I received a gratis copy of this volume from the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.

A Fun Activity for your Family

Some extended family time is upon us. Once you’ve exhausted the possibilities for polite discussion, you may be wondering what you should do or talk about.

 In some families, this may be the time that the traditional family game of Twister is launched. However, for those of more sedate minds, other games may be in order. Some games are entertaining, some humorous, some dauntingly boring, and some just plain fun.

 I’m here to suggest a fun game that can fill your afternoon even if you didn’t plan ahead. In fact, all you need for this game is a timer (like the one on your cell phone), some paper, and writing utensils.

 This is a version of Madlibs, but without the prefabricated story.

Photo used by CC License. For credit:  http://ow.ly/zcxK306twQu

Photo used by CC License. For credit: http://ow.ly/zcxK306twQu

 The gist of the game is that everyone will answer a series of questions by writing down a clause of a sentence. At the end, the resultant sentences will be read aloud. Typically much hilarity results, especially if you have an odd assortment of ages, interests, and personalities.

 You’ll want to set a timer for 15-30 seconds (otherwise someone will think too hard), announce one of the questions, have people write on their papers, then fold their answer back and pass the paper along.

 The game can be played with any number of players, however, I would recommend having five or more. We recently played with a group of college students, ourselves, and our kids.

 There are five questions that participants will need to write a clause in response to:

  1.  Who did it?
  2.  What did they do?
  3. Where did they do it?
  4. When did they do it?
  5. Why did they do it? 

Since we just played this game, I’ll produce some of the results below: 

My stinky dad
Searched for the formula to turn iron into gold
At the North Pole
After mother said to
To get back home. 
[Two Participants]
Ate a stack of pancakes
On the moon
As the sun rose and the choir sang Old MacDonald in falsetto voices
Because she forgot bubble gum.
 16 yellow monkeys with names that start with ‘z’
watching TV
in Fred’s stomach
while Ronald Reagan was President
to win one million dollars. 
Everyone in this house
Stacked some coins
On Hoth
As the snow fell on a quiet July evening and the banjo music lilted on by
Because no unicorn had come 
Princess Leah
Landed terribly
In a ramshackle house on the edge of a cliff in Texas
In the 1600s
To feed mom carrots. 
George Washington
Flew upside down deliberately
In New York
On November 18, 2016
To be able to retire early and learn to play shuffleboard. 
 
Doctors in the Soviet Union
Got soaking wet in the rain
In Greece
In 1812
Because no one had ever asked her to the prom. 
Dr. Wierdo
Advertised on the internet
At McDonalds
Before dinner
To destroy the dark side forever. 
A co-op of ladies making and selling jewelry
Did the hokey-pokey
Down by the river side
In the second century of the new republic
Since her mother hadn’t ever seen her left toe uncovered.

Obviously, all of these are a load of nonsense, which is exactly why they were so much fun. If you are bored, or in need of some cooperative levity, I recommend playing this simple game.