On Family-Integration and Jesus Christ
There is a blaring hole in family-integration ecclesiology.
First, some background. My family helped plant Household of Faith Community Church twelve years ago. It was one of the first family-integrated churches in the Northwest (if not beyond). I grew up in this church and am one of the few members of my peer group who became a strong proponent of the philosophy.
But, I also think we should be as critical of our own ideas as we are of other ideas. In light of that, I have noticed a uncomfortable silence on family-integration teaching and the subject of Jesus and His family. For a group of people who are so family-oriented, we seem to ignore passages like the following:
While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
When they [Jesus’ family] saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.
To the casual reader, there seems to be a discrepancy between these texts and our family-integration model. Furthermore, family integration teachings seem to skirt around these Gospel narratives with such consistency it almost seems purposive.
Today, I’m asking the proponents of family-integration to account, exegetically, for the apparent dichotomy between our ecclesiological/sociological reforms and the Gospel narratives –men such as Mr. Douglas Wilson and Mr. Geoffrey Botkin of Vision Forum Ministries; Dr. Vodie Bachum; my friend, Mr. Gregg Harris, and my local elders at HOFCC.
This is not a demand from some punk-twenty-something whose arrogance grants him the liberty to order around men who are his undisputed superiors. On the contrary, this is a plea. I need these answers for myself and for those will will examine my thinking on the subject.
Some may be wondering, “David, you’re a Biblical Studies major, a strong family-integration proponent and a lover of exegetical studies, why don’t you do the research and answer the discrepancy yourself?”
I will be working on an answer as diligently as I can before the school year begins (at which point, teaching and Greek will demand all of my time). Should I write a sufficient response, I will post it here for you all.
The reason I am begging these men to offer an explanation is because I trust them. I trust their handing of Scripture; I trust their devotion to truth; I trust their commitment and submission to our Lord, Jesus the Messiah. Their teaching on the subject would be of great value to me.