Evangelical Christianity has never come to grips with the massive sociological changes resulting from the Industrial Revolution. Until that time, agrarian culture and values undergirded Biblical concepts of the family. However, mechanization, immigration, urbanization and rapid transportation radically transformed the entire Western world. If we are not aware of the sociological impact on the family, we have no objective basis to evaluate the changes that resulted. There is a real danger that we will accommodate ourselves to prevailing cultural norms, rather than Biblical ones. And hence, the Christian family becomes salt that has lost is savor.To that I say, “Amen!”
A particularly perspicacious paragraph later in the article states...
In all this, the Church badly fumbled. Rather than influencing culture, we allowed ourselves to be influenced by it. American Christians eagerly grabbed at the promise of the “good life.” We sacrificed our families at the alter of a growing economy, good jobs, career progression and a house in the suburbs stuffed with toys. The industrial revolution was accompanied by the rise of antinomian and Arminian theology. Both heresies focused on the individual because both had no concept of covenantal living. Thus Christians were hit with a one two punch of deviant theology and a changing society. We’ve been staggering around the ring ever since.Mr. Abshire does a great job of summing up the little-understood history of the destruction of the biblical family in America. As he points out, it happened when Christian-agrarian culture acquiesced to industrial culture.
The article goes on to offer several suggestions for “reconstructing the family” and they are all good. There is, however, one glaring omission.
Mr. Abshire correctly understands and states that agrarian culture and values undergirded the biblical family. This was clearly the case for centuries. But his solutions for reconstructing such families do not include a voluntary and deliberate return to agrarian culture. This choice to pursue Christianity within the agrarian paradigm is, in my opinion, an absolutely necessary element in the reconstruction equation. To ignore it is a huge mistake.
Can biblical families live and grow and prosper within the paradigm of an industrial culture?
Well, I suspect someone can come up with examples of such families. They, like Daniel in Babylon, are able to resist the pressures to conform to the ungodly dominant culture. But I’m persuaded by what I’ve seen that “Daniel Families” are very few and very far between. More often, Christian families are consumed by the dominant culture through syncertism.
And, though I may be wrong (without looking it up), it seems to me that Daniel was taken to Babylon by force. He did not choose to live there. I rather doubt any devout Jew of the day would. So why would any devout Christian choose to live fully within today's Babylonian culture?
Then there is the matter of Abraham and Lot and city culture (the closest thing to an ancient “industrial” paradigm) vs agrarian culture. Here is an excerpt from an essay I wrote awhile back:
...Abraham goes and lives his agrarian life while Lot goes and pitches his tent toward the city of Sodom.It is perfectly clear to me that the culture of the city and of the industrial world around us is at war with the biblical family. And I can’t help but think that it is folly to attempt to reestablish biblical families without separating from that culture as much as possible.
Before long, Lot is seated in the gates of Sodom, which I understand to mean he was one of the leaders of the city. It appears that it was not so much the good land of the plain that appealed to Lot as much as the cities that were in the plain. Wicked cities. What is the final outcome? The cities of Sodom and Gomorra are justly destroyed. Lot, along with his wife and daughters, are rescued by angels. Mrs. Lot, so in love with her urban life, looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s two daughters don’t turn to salt, but it appears from their actions afterwards that they were heavily influenced by the ungodly city culture. Lot, a godly man by every account, made a foolish decision to leave the simple life of an agrarian herdsman and brought his family into the more "exciting" city. I suspect there were more "opportunities" there, more things to do, better entertainment. One can easily justify urban life on such grounds. But it was flat out wrong for Lot’s family to get involved in the culture of the city. That’s the way I read it. And I don’t think much has changed since then.
Historically speaking, agrarianism was the most “fertile ground” for raising biblical families. That has not changed.
You can read Rev. Abshire’s full article here: Reforming The Family