The diagram below showed up in my newsfeed a few days ago and I had this visceral, knee-jerk reaction that it was wrong. Mind you, I haven’t been the best Bible student the last few years, though there has been a significant uptick in that since starting seminary a few weeks ago.
Something that many people don’t know is my imagination is in pictures, not in words. This sometimes makes the task of putting creative thoughts to paper a little more difficult sometimes. But, as I tumbled the idea this image represented, the response I concocted was straight from the brain to the fingertips and I got some positive feedback. Granted, I have absolutely no experience as a parent – I don’t even play one on TV – but I think a lot of it was inspired by a lot of the reading I’ve been doing in and outside of my studies. I’m currently taking courses in the Old and New Testament as well as immersing myself in the works of Rob Bell and Peter Rollins. Something about them lights up my imagination more than anyone else in Christendom as of late.
I’ve made some adjustments and spelling corrections because I wrote this on the fly originally.
People who believe in an economy of responsibility like this probably end up either feeling like a failure or resenting those above them. This is likely because one or more people up the chain cannot, as human beings, perfectly satisfy their roles as mentioned above. To slap the term “Biblical” on it and Christ at the top just idealizes those roles even more which is just setting those involved up for even more bitterness when someone within this closed system inevitably breaks down.
Secondly, it pigeon-holes the roles of the parents in gender roles they may not even be equipped or developed to handle or even understand. Marriage and child-rearing are not job titles you immediately fit into. The jobs of mother and father are obtained by having and/or deciding to rear children. The roles you play in those children’s lives depend on your own strengths and weaknesses. So, you have these jobs, and, like any job, you try to do what you’re best at. So, it’s more like trying on different uniforms and, with each, you’re taking on that role. One day, you’re a baker, the next you’re an airline pilot, the next you’re a prison guard. That you’re male or female shouldn’t dictate your role in your child’s life.
What this graphic should really look like is a water park while it’s raining. Everyone in your family enters the pool by the water slides. The slides are the entrance into this world, the water is God’s grace (both in the pool and the rain coming from the sky; you are constantly soaked in it). You struggle to stay above water as a couple; that’s the struggle and doubt that we all deal with and have to learn to embrace to survive in the environment. Then your children come down the slide, and you have to take turns keeping them above water until they can do it themselves. But that’s okay, because you have rafts and water wings which are filled with your breath which is God-given, so God is in that too.
It’s a mess and it’s not as simple as the diagram you have pictured above but I don’t think life was ever meant to be that simple. Don’t rely on a system to define what your life should be like because you are separated from the culture of the Bible by a few millennia. Not even the people who wrote the Bible were able to uphold the ideals they wrote about; learn to embrace the uncertainty, the doubt, the mess, and the anxiety.