Family as Idol
Many on my side of the homeschooling fence subscribe to one or more of these philosophies, which gave me pause to think. Are we worshipping idols, family style?
The bad fruit of misunderstanding God's foundational purpose is often a form of idolatry. Our family (or worse yet, the family-integrated ministry model) becomes a sort of idol. Idolatry is when we substitute or place a created thing in the rightful place of the Creator. When we get ourselves backwards and pursue as our primary goal the family-integrated thing, the homeschooling thing, the patriarchy thing, the breeding thing, the modesty/home-baked bread thing, or the "making sure our boys are tough warriors and not wimpy" thing, instead of God's glory, idolatry is just around the corner. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with any of these things I have just mentioned. But they are means, not ends.
Although I personally feel I run close to (if not in) this basic movement described, I have also experienced the judgmental "legalism" which I think the author is referring to in this article. I have on occasion been on the receiving end of not-so-kindly-worded criticism from other Christian homeschoolers about placing my children in Sunday School, the fact that I don't particularly advocate corporal punishment or the fact that I don't particularly oppose it either. I have seen others, even those new in the faith, held to an artificial standard of behavior which, although derived from biblical principles, does not quite carry the weight of scripture.

In short, I have known people who attempt to impose an outward expression of godliness without concerning themselves for the heart. I have also known atheists and agnostics who displayed more genuine love and compassion for their fellow man than most devout Christians I know. That bothers me. The bible does not tell us we will be recognized by the world by any outward our dress, number of children, employment of the mother, style of worship music we listen to or the structure of our local church.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
--John 13:35
Yes, the family is not the end and those things which preserve the family are not the highest goals. God's glory is the purpose and increased focus on the family is a means to an end. But there is one thing Mr. Barfield leaves out, which is acutely relevant in a church plagued by the same social ills as the rest of the world. If we do not have the means, how will we ever accomplish the ends?

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