Focus on the (Poor) Family
Since this is my first post here (thanks for welcoming me!), I should probably introduce myself as a new intern for Bread for the World out in California, officemate of my esteemed blogging Bread colleague, Holly. My internship is geared towards thinking about how conservative Evangelical concerns and social justice concerns might find common ground. In a way, I'm emphasizing the "nonpartisan" nature of our organization in a different way than you might normally think. Not only are we not tied to one particular political party, but we find common cause amidst all members of the Body of Christ, in the spirit of Ephesians-like unity.
Today I'm thinking about the affects of poverty on the family. There was an interesting short article in the Washington Post about this recently and also a post about it (with about a billion comments and counting) over at the God's Politics blog. Meanwhile, I've been thinking on my blog about what Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family (FoF) might have to say about hunger and poverty. As you might expect, one finds a good deal on the website about how strengthening families is one of the most profound ways to work against poverty. And to that, I say Amen!
On the other hand, this issue is a two way street. Poverty makes it harder to have a strong family. FoF certainly recognizes the negative affect that a bad financial situation can have on families when it comes to gambling. In fact, FoF even goes further to cite poverty as a major cause for divorce. In one report, FoF proclaims that a higher divorce rate in the Bible Belt is due not to religious affiliation, but rather "is due primarily to increased rates of poverty and of marriage at younger ages" in that region of the country. In other words, according to FoF, poverty is a major threat to the family. Not their words, but it doesn't seem to be an unreasonable conclusion! Rather than getting caught up in doing one or the other (strengthen families vs. assisting people out of poverty; individual responsibility vs. structural injustice; etc.), why not work on both?
Finally, the last paragraph in FoF's Colorado Statement on Biblical Sexual Morality states that, like the example of Christ, we must show love to those who find themselves in hardship (including poverty), whether or not that is the result of their own sexual sin. This paragraph is quite profound and I was surprised to find it, but it is clear as day. And I think that is a call to all Christians to show love to those in poverty, not just as the result of sexual sin, but all sin (even "laziness," God forbid!). So, in the end, FoF says that we should show love to the poor, no matter whose fault their poverty is. Amen! Now these are some "family values" I think we can all get behind.
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