Here is a clever, charming music video Justin Taylor just re-posted:
Now, let's think about it, and discuss it.
Setting the stage. I like the video, as far as it goes. At first listen, anyway. It's a pretty, sentimental, creative reflection on how marriage and family can change your life for the better, killing old dreams but replacing them with new ones. All true. As far as it goes.
What I am about to say really isn't primarily meant as a criticism of the video — though I guess it ends up that way. Primarily, this is meant as a reflection on the video itself as a springboard for further thought.
If someone were to say in conversation, "Boy, marriage and kids sure changed everything for me, but I'm glad of it," I'd just say "Amen" and I'd smile. I wouldn't start criticizing — unless my friend added something like "and it's the most important thing in my life," or "living for those kids' love is what keeps me going," or a number of other similar statements. Or unless someone else hearing his remark said such things about it, treating it as if it were the whole enchilada on the subject of Family. Then I might feel the need to say something.
Are we clear, so far? (Only the meta will tell me.)
Those thoughts I have. The video made me think of truths it didn't even touch on. Justin Taylor, good man that he is, says that this song is by a guy "whose life and lyrics have been soaked in The Story," and that this song is "a simple song about God taking his old dreams and giving him a new reality."
Well, no, actually, it isn't any of those things. In fact, the lyrics do not mention God at all, nor The Story — if by that we mean either the whole-Bible story of redemption, or the specific pivotal story of Jesus.
Look, the song is nice. I liked it. Mostly. But I don't know the writer — and that doesn't matter a lot, because the song is the song. It is what it is. Whoever the writer is, that song is what he chose to say about being a Family Man.
From the lyrics, a Christian might have written it. Equally, a Mormon could have written it, a Roman Catholic could have written to it. Anyone who loves his wife and kid could have written it.
The song itself is completely and entirely horizontal. The family fills the singer up with love. Hearts hearts hearts, from his family. The family helps him stand. He's got a nice house in the 'burbs, and they're going to Disneyland. Mission Accomplished!
And that's it. Much as I like what's there, it all makes me think about what's missing.
I've mentioned God and the Gospel. They're absent, period. I particularly became aware of this in the middle, where the singer says
So come on with the thunder cloudsNow, that bothered me. The imagery made me think immediately of Matthew 7:24-27. Didn't it do the same for you?
Let the cold wind rail against us, let the rain come down
We can build a roof above us with the love we've found
We can stand our ground
So let the rain come down
Because love binds up what breaks in two
So keep my heart so close to you
And I'll fill you up with love
Fill you up with love
And I'll help you stand
'Cause I am a family man
But what holds a person steady and sound under "thunder clouds" and "cold wind" and "rain" is not horizontal family-love, as in the song. Not according to Jesus, anyway. According to Him, it is building one's life consciously on the words of Jesus. Otherwise, no matter how great a "family man" he is, he's headed for absolute disaster.
And if he hasn't given his family anything better, so are they.
The major reason why this video strikes me thus, no doubt, is because of what I'm doing right now. I am working through the final chapter of my book on Proverbs, which is on raising children. It puts my hands on the pan-Biblical teaching about the meaning and purpose of the family — which is (surprise!) emphatically and distinctively God-centered. The family was created for God and defined by God. It has a purpose which is all to do with him.
Husbands/fathers and wives/mothers have critical and specific roles in that family, chief of which is personal fascination with the person of God and with His words, which overflows in emphatic instruction of the family (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). That, in brief, is the heartbeat of the family, as God defines it. None of which showed up in this song or video.
I'm also a little concerned with a young single Christian watching this, and having the fantasy reinforced: if I get married, my goals will die, but they'll be replaced by wonderful love and happiness that my family will give me.
Well, leaving everything else aside, maybe. But not necessarily.
If your goal, single man, is to give your life in service to God, and a family brings an end to that, you've made a poor and foolish trade — and, ironically, you won't be serving them well.
If your assumption is that your family will give you love and meaning and stability... where did you get that idea? From something like this video? Maybe. Certainly not from the Bible.
Ask David if his family gave him happiness and stability and meaning. Ask him as he's pursued by his spoiled, arrogant, self-righteous, above-the-law, treacherous son Absalom.
Now, you can rightly say that David's own sin had a bearing on this. True enough. And the song doesn't mention that, nor nor does it mention the sole elements which would prevent that specific (i.e. the Gospel and real discipleship). Nor does it mention the lone factor that kept David stable and sane during that horrible time. Read Psalm Three, as a for-instance. You'll find the answer. (Hint: it wasn't his family.)
I could go on and on. Some will say I already have. I know how my (to them) carping and fault-finding will strike some. What can I say? A blog is about what one thinks about things. This blog is about what I, as a Biblical Christian, think about things.
And that's what I think about this song.