Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It Doesn't Take a Village...It Takes a Family

About fifteen years ago, Hillary Clinton famously said that it takes a village to raise a child. Liberals loved it while conservatives hated it. Not surprisingly, many conservatives responded to Clinton by disagreeing and saying that it takes a family to raise a child.

I'd like to throw my "two cents" into this equation.

First, Clinton is simply wrong. It is absurd to think that it takes a village, by which she means the broader community, to raise a child. As a Christian, there is no way that I would allow the village to be significantly involved in raising my children. Most of the village does not know Christ and is therefore dead in sin. They have hearts of stone. Their minds are blinded to the things of Christ. In light of all that, the village is not raising my kids.

So who should raise children? Primarily it should be Dad and Mom. This is God's plan and is therefore the ideal. This is the best situation. However, there are certainly real families out there who do not fit the Dad-and-Mom pattern. Due to death or sin, single Dads and single Moms are raising their kids; many are doing a very solid job of this. We also see grandparents actively involved. Sometimes aunts and uncles act as parents. Additionally, adoption is one of the most beautiful examples of parenthood (In case you are wondering, the two-dad and two-mom families are not beneficial).

We should, however, ask ourselves whether or not this is enough. Are the families mentioned above enough to raise a child? I think the answer is, "Yes, but..." Yes, they can raise their children well. But, there is an important addition that can help immensely.

What is this addition? The answer is simple: the church family.

The church should be a family. Because of this, everyone in the family ought to know everyone else. They should be familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses, interests, talents, hopes, struggles, etc. In this setting, adults have a tremendous opportunity to positively influence children. This happens through both word and deed. Parents may be wise, but they don't hold all the wisdom in the world. They need help and can benefit a great deal from the wisdom of their brothers and sisters in Christ. An encouraging and/or challenging word from an adult can edify a child a great deal.

In order for this to happen, churches must come together in a way that leads to people really getting to know one another. This requires families meeting with families. It means people letting down their guard and being real with one another.

Let me be clear about what I'm not talking about. I'm not referring to many of the church programs we see today. These programs, which split families apart, do little for the building up of the family or the individual. They are based on man's ideas, not on scripture.

I am talking about real communication, real relationships, real accountability, and real family.

So as parents, let's protect our kids from the world's influence. Let's at the same time look for positive influence from our church families. Let's get to know one another intimately enough that we can say and do things that will be meaningful to others' children. Let's all build one another up in the faith.

It takes a family. Dad + Mom + church = a good formula for Christian growth.


Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

I'd suggest that Ms Clinton was infamously quoting others and putting her own spin on the saying!

The saying in it's commonly repeated current form certainly didn't originate with her; the exact words can be found in other written sources since at least the 1970s, and reflect similar ideas from much farther back. And in those previous usages it certainly did not hold the meaning she has given to it.

I think the concept derives from close-knit cultural groups living in small extended-family type groupings (villages)with strong commonly held values.

So your example of the church (in its true form as an intimate family community/body) as a support and extension to the mom/dad/kids family group is probably closer to the original meaning of the saying - in fact, could even be offered as the ultimate example.

This saying (along with numerous others) has been tossed around uncritically, and in the process has been twisted by those with certain agendas. Thank you for asking us to stop and think carefully about ideas we too often glibly accept and repeat.

Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

5 days later, and I can't stop thinking about what you've said here! So I have posted up some of my own thoughts over at my blogs: and "My Church Journey" ( (same thing both places, just different audiences). Hope that's okay!

Anyway, thanks again for challenging me to ponder these issues.

Eric said...


I'm glad you have been thinking about this. It certainly is an important issue.

As foe raising kids, I wish no parents would try to go it alone. They really do need church family support. This is yet another reason why church families need to be small enough that they can be close-knit.