Religious Education in the Family

Religious Education in the Family

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CHAPTER I AN INTERPRETATION OF THE FAMILY § 1. TAKING THE HOME IN RELIGIOUS TERMS

The ills of the modern home are symptomatic. Divorce, childless families, irreverent children, and the decadence of the old type of separate home life are signs of forgotten ideals, lost motives, and insufficient purposes. Where the home is only an opportunity for self-indulgence, it easily becomes a cheap boarding-house, a sleeping-shelf, an implement for social advantage. While it is true that general economic developments have effected marked changes in domestic economy, the happiness and efficiency of the family do not depend wholly on the parlor, the kitchen, or the clothes closet. Rather, everything depends on whether the home and family are considered in worthy and adequate terms.

Homes are wrecked because families refuse to take home-living in religious terms, in social terms of sacrifice and service. In such homes, organized and conducted to satisfy personal desires rather than to meet social responsibilities, these desires become ends rather than agencies and opportunities.

They who marry for lust are divorced for further lust. Selfishness, even in its form of self-preservation, is an unstable foundation for a home. It costs too much to maintain a home if you measure it by the personal advantages of parents. What hope is there for useful and happy family life if the newly wedded youth have both been educated in selfishness, habituated to frivolous pleasures, and guided by ideals of success in terms of garish display? Yet what definite program for any other training does society provide? Do the schools and colleges, Sunday schools and churches teach youth a better way? How else shall they be trained to take the home and family in terms that will make for happiness and usefulness? It is high time to take seriously the task of educating people to religious efficiency in the home.

§ 2. THE RELIGIOUS MOTIVE

The family needs a religious motive. More potent for happiness than courses in domestic economy will be training in sufficient domestic motives. It will take much more than modern conveniences, bigger apartments, or even better kitchens to make the new home. Essentially the problem is not one of mechanics but of persons. What we call the home problem is more truly a family problem. It centers in persons; the solution awaits a race with new ideals, educated to live as more than dust, for more than dirt, for personality rather than for possessions. We need young people who establish homes, not simply because they feel miserable when separated, nor because one needs a place in which to board and the other needs a boarder, but because the largest duty and joy of life is to enrich the world with other lives and to give themselves in high love to making those other lives of the greatest possible worth to the world.

The family must come to a recognition of social obligations. We all hope for the coming ideal day. Everywhere men and women are answering to higher ideals of life. But the new day waits for a new race. Modern emphasis on the child is a part of present reaction from materialism. New social ideals are personal. We seek a better world for the sake of a higher race. The emphasis on child-welfare has a social rather than a sentimental basis. The family is our great chance to determine childhood and so to make the future. The child of today is basic to the social welfare of tomorrow. He is our chance to pay to tomorrow all that we owe to yesterday. The family as the child's life-school is thus central to every social program and problem.

§ 3. WIDER CHILD-WELFARE

This age knows that man does not live by bread alone. Interest in child-welfare is for the sake of the child himself, not for the sake of his clothes or his physical condition. Concern about soap and sanitation, hygiene and the conveniences of life grows because these all go to make up the soil in which the person grows. There is danger that our emphasis on child-welfare may be that of the tools instead of the man; that we may become enmeshed in the mechanism of well-being and lose sight of the being who should be well. To fail at the point of character is to fail all along the line....