(Editor’s Note: In her last article, ‘Householding: Everybody’s Living Together!’, Melody Adele Connally introduced the wild idea of ‘householding‘ with family. A particularly intense form of intentional community, householding (or ‘sharehousing’) provides both benefits and challenges. In this article Melody offers a biblical context for viewing shared-living with family as a form of Christian community. She presents the possibility for graciousness and love in the nuts and bolts of daily life by way of our identity in Jesus- and by means of His Holy Spirit who enables us to live in peace and unity even when we find a pile of day-old dishes sitting in the sink..again!)
Sometimes I get kind of sick of answering the questions: “So, how is it living with your family?” “Are you guys all still getting along?” “Have you been looking at places?” I know the questioners are well-intentioned, but the underlying assumptions wear me out a little. As common as this householding thing is getting, most people still don’t really believe that Kevin, Edythe and I would get stuck here on purpose if there were other options. For the record, living with my family is great. Yes, we are still getting along. Yes, we have been looking at places. But honestly, we are now more often looking at places we could All move to.
People want to know if, and how, householding can be possible. How do you keep from fighting, cleaning up other people’s messes, having your special cereal being eaten? Well, you sort of don’t.
Paul gives the believers in Ephesus some directions about walking in love as the new community in Christ, and I believe householding is successful when we acknowledge our families as christian communities. Some of his points are fairly obvious- don’t get drunk- and some are more challenging- submit to one another “out of reverence for Christ.” Some are kind of weird, but it turns out that “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” is actually possible in the home on a daily basis. My dad actually wanders around singing and making melody to the Lord. I’m really not kidding. Come see if you don’t believe me.
The letter to the Ephesians is some of the most directly applicable scripture to the project of householding. The first half gives us, as individuals and a group, the premise of the identity we have in Christ, and the second half explains how to live in unity as “children of God,” the family that we are members of because of that new identity. It closes with a sort of manual for the tools we have available to us as such. Specific relationships, family relationships between people who are sharing one home, organize the fifth and sixth chapters. Throughout the book, we get two primary directives. Imitate God (5:1), and submit to one another (5:21). Both of these are incredibly difficult, but that is why Paul itemizes the resources available to us at the end. In the well-known Armor of God passage, we are told that our enemies are spiritual forces, not “flesh and blood.” Certainly not each other. Our ability to imitate God and submit to one another within our families is challenged primarily by “the schemes of the devil” (6:11), but God provides “the strength of his might” (6:10). And that, my dear, is how you live with your family. Simple.
In a given conversation, decision, or episode within our home, it doesn’t always work out perfectly. Family life is complicated with many opportunities to trip each other up: relationships, responsibilities, finances, and the list goes on. Our daily struggles center around who left what dishes on the counter, who left what lights on, who is having an emotional spasm. We have limited resources, and sometimes they are distributed unequally. We have uncomfortably passionate debates about the semantics of the word “manipulate.” We all have prideful hearts. We have to submit, lay down our supposed rights as individuals for the benefit of the family. Whether or not you live with your family, submitting to one another is imperative for a healthy identity in Christ. Miraculously, when everyone lays down their rights sacrificially, we actually enjoy more respect toward our own individuality, and we end up with a vibrant and healthy family life.
(Source: EveryPlenty.org – Thank you Melody!)