Something hit my radar this week. I have not sorted out all the particulars, I’m not sure where I take a position, but I will lay it out so you have something to think about too.

It all stems from theology from the middle ages and the Three Estates (sometimes called Estates of the realm.) The basic idea is God instituted three spheres (estates) of human interaction: the family, the church, and the government.  In history, each sphere may have a slightly different look depending on how people act and react to situations and world events of a given time. However, each interact between and within all spheres. The family is the basic unit, from it you may see the framework of both the church and government. In a perfect world, a father would lead the family (government framework) in following God’s commandments and nourish a healthy faith life (church framework) that grows the family. That family would grow and interact with other families, which builds the institutions of church and government. “In a perfect world” (Garden of Eden) is where the serpent attacked the estate of “family” and sin corrupted everything.

The idea that I came across this week is that the family unit is under attack (and this is nothing really new in the culture wars) and that the church should become an ersatz family unit.  On the face of it, it looks like a reasonable proposition: a group of like-minded people following God’s commands nourishing a healthy faith life, interacting, trying to influence families and government.

The church is supposed to influence families and government. The church are children of God, so we are family. And in our American culture, by and large, our families and government are dysfunctional anyways…  So why not make the church the prime estate? I cannot put my finger on it, but there seems to be just not quite right with this proposition. It might be the way that I am presenting the idea that is getting in the way. It might be how I view “vocation” (which is a related topic, but outside the scope of this discussion.)

All throughout scripture, the church is adjured to take care of the widows and orphans, the poor, the foreigner, the list goes on and on. Paul tells us, “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1 EHV) Both Paul (Ephesians 5&6) and John (1 John 2) give instructions on family life. The church may look at families and government and see dysfunction. Families and government may look at the church and see a broken, antiquated, institution looking to grab power.

The church needs to recovery its identity. That identity is not the family, not the government. It includes the family, it includes the government, but foremost it includes Jesus. This is a discussion the church needs to have.



Trust the Promises


Steve Skiver







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