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The family is the basic unit of society and that society would collapse without it?

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  • The family is the basic unit of society and that society would collapse without it?

    Over in the Screwballs thread, Rogue cited positively this Christianity Today article, which makes what struck me as a totally bizarre claim:

    Dawkins: "Theological theories make no predictions at all, let alone testable ones."

    ...Dawkins says many things that are true. But this isn't one of them. Theology makes lots of predictions – many of which are testable. The Bible for example tells us that human beings are sinful and will lie, that wars, plagues and pestilence will continue on the earth, that the poor we will always have with us, that Jesus will return, that the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse.

    The other points cited have an obvious basis in the bible, and will be familiar to even a casual reader of the bible, but the statement "that the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse" strikes me as totally made-up. Nothing in the bible says that. Seems like a case of the author having his own nutty view, and pretending it's biblical.

    To quote a couple of Jesus's statements:
    "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"

    "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household."

    Can a serious case be made that the bible teaches "that the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse"? Or is that author just nuttier than a fruitcake?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Starlight View Post
    "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household."[/box]

    The statements of Jesus make reference on consequences that will come about for following his radical teachings. The family discord (even coming down to sheer violence) that can come about when one cuts ties to deeply rooted family traditions in exchange for a another tradition (especially one perceived as dangerously radical) is a thing that can happen. They are not teachings in and of themselves, they are disclaimers.


    Can a serious case be made that the bible teaches "that the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse"? Or is that author just nuttier than a fruitcake?

    It can be made to a certain extent. The association of the breakdown of filial ties to an imminent fall of peoples and kingdoms is not unknown in Hebrew thought:


    5 Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips.
    6 For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

    - Micah 7:5-6


    The letters to Timothy explaining the qualifications for leadership for the Christian communes in Ephesus where the expectation of a well governed household (the basic social unit, be it the Hellenic oikos or Latin familia) as conducive to a well governed and stable commune/society. I would say it is not a far fetched notion to extrapolate into Christian thought and praxis when it comes to social organization and the ills that come about when there is a mass breakdown/disfunction of basic social units, whatever their configuration may be.
    Ladino, Guatemalan, Hispanic, and Latin, but foremostly, Christian.
    As of the 1st of December, 2020, officially anointed as this:

    "Seinfeld had its Soup Nazi. Tweb has its Taco Nazi." - Rogue06 , https://theologyweb.com/campus/forum...e3#post1210559

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    • #3

      Originally posted by Andius View Post
      It can be made to a certain extent. The association of the breakdown of filial ties to an imminent fall of peoples and kingdoms is not unknown in Hebrew thought:

      5 Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips.
      6 For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

      - Micah 7:5-6
      I take it I don't need to explain why a prophet observing/predicting temporary family dysfunction in Israel at one specific point in time, doesn't amount to a general teaching about societies in general that "the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse"?

      The letters to Timothy explaining the qualifications for leadership for the Christian communes in Ephesus where the expectation of a well governed household (the basic social unit, be it the Hellenic oikos or Latin familia) as conducive to a well governed and stable commune/society.
      Indeed Greek society was heavily organized by "household" - the oikos could comprise quite a large unit beyond the core family, and include many slaves and properties etc. I note that while these units centered around the core family, the families of all the slaves in them were not necessarily respected by society as families and could typically be separated on a whim. Thus while it was a family based system, it was only supportive of a small minority of families while being severely disruptive of the majority of families.

      As you note, the letter of Timothy uses this model for Christian leadership since it was culturally relevant to the recipients, and using a paradigm they were familiar with.

      I would say it is not a far fetched notion to extrapolate into Christian thought and praxis when it comes to social organization and the ills that come about when there is a mass breakdown/disfunction of basic social units, whatever their configuration may be.
      I think it is extremely far fetched to make that extrapolation. The tangentially-relevant one-off examples you give don't remotely support generalizing this to a principle that allegedly applies to all cultures in the way the OP quoted article was doing. There seems a rather unbridgeable gulf from "Christian leadership in Ephesus should be well-organized, like households in Ephesus" to "all cultures everywhere would fall apart if the family isn't the basic unit of society".

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
        I take it I don't need to explain why a prophet observing/predicting temporary family dysfunction in Israel at one specific point in time, doesn't amount to a general teaching about societies in general that "the family is the basic unit of society and without it society will collapse"?

        Hence why I qualified it "to a certain extent". I cited said Micah only merely to show that it exists within the corpus of Judeo-Christian thought, and thus derivable to develop and evolve our own understandings of family and society through the centuries (Keep in mind doctrinal diversity throughout time is perfectly normal). Catholic Social Teaching is one such latest example. But to be fair, I know of no Judeo-Christian propositions of family-social cohesion that derive from the prophecies of Micah. I only cited it as a plausible possibility were to one to venture that path of thought.

        Indeed Greek society was heavily organized by "household" - the oikos could comprise quite a large unit beyond the core family, and include many slaves and properties etc. I note that while these units centered around the core family, the families of all the slaves in them were not necessarily respected by society as families and could typically be separated on a whim. Thus while it was a family based system, it was only supportive of a small minority of families while being severely disruptive of the majority of families.

        As you note, the letter of Timothy uses this model for Christian leadership since it was culturally relevant to the recipients, and using a paradigm they were familiar with.
        I would say that those "sub-families" within an ancient household didn't have any relevance when it came to maintaining the integrity of the oikos or familia, even when "slave-families" started becoming a thing with the coming of the Roman emperors. Our present is not a proper paradigm to evaluate the past of what constituted "family disruption".


        And quite right. I might also add that whilst simultaneously using familiar paradigms, Judeo-Christian thought also played a role in subverting the very structure of the oikos and familia, very sneaky stuff. Were I a Pater Familias, I would not take kindly of being told at the idea of not threaten my servus under the pretext that I and the servus serve the same master (The Christ).



        I think it is extremely far fetched to make that extrapolation. The tangentially-relevant one-off examples you give don't remotely support generalizing this to a principle that allegedly applies to all cultures in the way the OP quoted article was doing. There seems a rather unbridgeable gulf from "Christian leadership in Ephesus should be well-organized, like households in Ephesus" to "all cultures everywhere would fall apart if the family isn't the basic unit of society".


        You're over a century late either way, Roman Catholic Social Teaching has been thing for a good while now. Again, I only cited Micah and the letter of Timothy to show it merely exists within long established accepted corpus of ideas of Christendom.


        Don't get it twisted Starlight. "Christian leadership in Ephesus should be well-organized, like households in Ephesus" to "all cultures everywhere would fall apart if the family isn't the basic unit of society" , Really? that's not how I am framing it man... especially in such a stiff hyper-literal manner. The ideas are derived and adopted in dialectical derivative fashion as they have been for centuries in all kinds of topics. Even from the two examples I cited, it is possible to take them into diverse dialectical pathways to adjust to diverse contexts to formulate ideas revolving around different propositions of social cohesion. And if a man from one of the churches of Scotland wants to make something of it, more power to him then.
        Ladino, Guatemalan, Hispanic, and Latin, but foremostly, Christian.
        As of the 1st of December, 2020, officially anointed as this:

        "Seinfeld had its Soup Nazi. Tweb has its Taco Nazi." - Rogue06 , https://theologyweb.com/campus/forum...e3#post1210559

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