We Can Reclaim the Household Through This Crisis

So when everything started going down with coronavirus, Jeff shot me a article by Andy Crouch, who’s a really favorite writer and thinker for both Jeff and I.


And he wrote a great article about what’s going on, but he had one line in there that I wanted to tease out with you, Jeff, because I thought, man, this is really relevant to what we are talking about at Family Teams. He wrote, “One of the things that this crisis represents is that we can reclaim the household as the fundamental unit of personhood, the place where we all are best known and cared for.” Reclaim the household as the fundamental unit of personhood. I’ve thought a lot about, like what is Andy saying there?

Yeah, so good.

Because that is very much what… if you were to describe… if we were to describe what we feel is the crisis of the modern family, it’s really the destruction of the household and the devolution of the family into the nuclear family. We’ve left being the household, a household that really was an economic unit, a religious unit. There was so much to the first century household, and this was true all the way up ’til very recently. Basically in the 1950s we started to fall into nuclear family land for about 15 years, and then we’ve been into the modern family since then. So, yeah. I’m just wanted to hear you, Jeff, tease out that a little bit. What do you think Andy’s talking about, reclaim the household as the fundamental unit of personhood?

Yeah. I feel like he’s talking about there’s… We don’t realize how much we abdicate the home for being the center of identity shaping, and we let other things be centers of identity shaping. So, we’re getting our identity from work. We’re getting our identity from school. We’re getting our identity from our peers. We’re getting our identity from culture. I would say that’s probably one of the prominent ones, actually, kind of this more pseudo-combination of everything out there. When yes, the personhood, who you are, what you have to offer the world, will show first there, will show first at home, will show first… What you have to offer will show at home before it shows to the world. Who you’re told you are in a truest sense, you’ll find that more true at home than in the world, and on and on. And so I just think, yeah, hugely important to regain that as a centering force, not a thing that we’re trying to run away from and go into what we think is deeper or bigger or more flashy things.

Yeah. And when you guys think about what it means to even be in like quarantine or this kind of experience a lot of people are having, it makes a lot of sense if you’re in a household, right? It makes a lot of sense that you have a lot of diversity of gifts. You’re able to think about how to educate the kids, how to work in and through the house. How do I continue faith rhythms in and through the house? The household was this extended family, larger unit that in times of crisis would come together almost reflexively and would have an abundance of resources to really handle a crisis.

And the reason why so many families were designed this way and were really centered around households was because crises were so common. And today we’re so safe, and economic prosperity is so vast that people now can really move away from family and live incredibly isolated lives, not thinking that a crisis around the corner could mean that all those relationships they’ve neglected could be really important for their survival, for them to thrive. And so one of the things that we’re seeing is if people really value the household more. So that’s really exciting to us. It’s a bit of a silver lining in the midst of a lot of… a real difficult time.

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