In our column a week ago, we suggested that the real, final battle in these last days would be between those who prioritize faith, family and commitment and those who are caught up in the pursuit of individual “freedom” and preserving their personal options.
We also drew the conclusion that those who orient themselves to the sacrifice required by family devotion end up being much more religious and spiritual than those who don’t.
Whether he intended it to apply to this exact context or not, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard made an apt comment on “the battle” and on the interplay between church and family with the church as the “means” and the family as the “end":
"It is in the living room that the battle must be fought, lest the skirmishes of religiousness become a changing-of-the-guard parade one day a week. It is in the living room that the battle must be fought, not imaginatively in church, with the pastor shadowboxing and the listeners looking on. It is in the living room that the battle must be fought because the victory must be that the home becomes a shrine.
"Let the work be done directly in the church by holding an inspection of the contending forces — under whose banner the battle will be fought, in whose name the victory will be won — and by describing the position of the enemy, by imitating the attack, by praising the omnipotent ally and strengthening trust by arousing mistrust, trust in him through mistrust of oneself ...
"But the main point still is that the single individual will go home from church willing wholeheartedly and eagerly to battle in the living room. If the pastor’s activity in the church is merely a once-a-week attempt to tow the congregation’s cargo ship a little closer to eternity, the whole thing comes to nothing, because a human life, unlike a cargo ship, cannot lie in the same place until the next Sunday.
"Therefore, the church is the very place where the difficulty must be presented, and it is better to go from the church discouraged and to find the task easier than one thought than to go from church overly confident and to become discouraged in the living room."
A lot of food for thought there!
“The victory must be that the home becomes a shrine.” We often speak of how sacred our homes are, and Kierkegaard seems to have embraced that. We are reminded of President Harold B. Lee’s quote that “The most important of the Lord's work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.”
“Let the church describe the position of the enemy.” The enemy, the adversary, is attacking the family, marriage and the home from all four sides: the societal redefinition of marriage on one side, rising divorce rates on the second side, cohabitation instead of marriage on the third side and chosen lifetime singleness on the fourth side. And as if that were not enough, commercial and monetary interests have learned there will be more revenues each time one family splits into two.
“The church is the very place where the difficulty must be presented.” And it is being presented, more and more in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. General conference talks seem to center on the family more than ever before, and as the world moves away from commitment and permanent, prioritized relationships, the church focuses ever more on their importance and on the model and example of our heavenly parents and on a lifestyle built around natural marriage and devoted parenting.
“Praising the omnipotent ally under whose banner the battle will be fought, in whose name the victory will be won.” The name of the omnipotent ally is Jesus Christ, and for us, the banner is his church. But there are other allies, and not all of them are religious.
All those who truly value natural families and who live their lives accordingly are with us.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."