<![CDATA[(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!)]]>
Householding: Families As Christian Communities
by Melody Adele Connally | Jun 6, 2011 | Community and Ecclesia, Features, Home and Family | 2 comments
What about the definition of marriage being a “man shall LEAVE his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh”? How do you stop obeying your parents or following their advice for you/ your husband/ your children when you live with them? What if their wishes and wisdom contradict your husband’s? A wife must follow her husband and not her parents. Would you want to live with your mother in law? What about inevitable lovemaking noises? I think it was very healthy we lived in a state quite distant from my parents when we first married and were learning to live together as one flesh. It’s very good it works for you, but I think it would not for most people. Just my opinion. It is an interesting concept, and I love my parents, but it would be my husband’s nightmare.
Hi Amy, Thanks for the comment. I think you bring up really important points. I can speak from experience. Several times during our marriage we have lived with my wife’s parents and it definitely is really important to have your own personal space -especially for the grandparents to have some quiet time away from rambunctious kids. We had some key conversations to hash out our boundaries – of personal space, parenting, etc. I think also it is possible to “leave and cleave” but it is more challenging when in close proximity. Newly married couples would be wise to learn how to function independently for a time. In my opinion the best situation is a living space that has a separate apartment or in-law suite. But consider that much of human history seems to not involve merely the “nuclear family” but an extended family living model – from what I understand this is a modern invention that emerged with the creation of the suburbs. Many people in the world today still live in this extended family pattern in some way. Personally, I think this is something worth studying because I think being reconciled to and honoring our elders is a critical aspect of healthy community.