Tim Keller Article Notes — “Three Ways with Families”

In a February blog entry titled “Three Ways with Families,” Tim Keller posted a brief look at the secular, religious, and gospel-centered view of the family. He introduces the topic with an interesting fact: in Japan, Russia, and Western Europe, the birth rate has dropped below replacement levels. Interestingly, these are societies that are becoming increasingly secular; societies that tend to be more religious are having no problems with population decline.

Why might secular folks not be interested in having kids?

  • “The sacrifice factor” — Sociologists studying secularism for the past thirty years have found that it fosters individualism. The idea of having kids doesn’t exactly mesh well with the idea of going out and following your dreams.
  • “The hope factor” — With environmental and technological disasters threatening, the secular folks don’t see the prospect of bringing new life into the world very enticing. Why bring someone into such potential suffering?

Does this mean, “Yay, religion is a friend to the family!” Not necessarily; people from religious or moralistic backgrounds have a tendency to idolize family. Yet, “according to theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, Christianity was the very first religion or world-view that held up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Jesus himself and St. Paul were single.” In the Gospel, one does not need a family to have the love and acceptance and honor of God.

So, what does the Gospel do for singles?

  • frees them from the shame of being unmarried found in conservative cultures.
  • allows them to nurture lives for the family of God just as Christian parents do.

And what does the Gospel do for marrieds and families?

  • Gives us the hope and strength for the sacrifices required in marriage and child-rearing.
  • “Christians grasp that they were only brought to life because of Jesus’ radical sacrifice of his independence and power. We know that children are only brought to life and self-sufficiency if their parents sacrifice much of their independence and power. In light of the cross, it is the least we can do.”

The article’s not long, and definitely worth a read. Being from a conservative background, I can relate to the tendency to idolize family and family honor. Like all idols, these idols are good things that my heart tends to change into ultimate things. Praise be to the one who gives us a family and family honor that cannot be shaken!


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: