There are lots of disturbing statistics that get thrown out by every latest study. Phil Lawler identifies the most disturbing of all, the one that has the most devastating implications for our society, our culture, and our people: Fewer than half of our children today, 46%, live with both of their parents. [Read more…]
In working on an article about vocation, I was looking for the source of Luther’s famous saying about the holiness of changing diapers. I found his sermon “The Estate of Marriage” (1522) posted online here. A priceless excerpt:
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? 0 you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful. carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.” [Read more…]
More counter-intuitive mysterious health findings:
A new study says that parents are less apt to the common cold than those without children.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that those with kids were half as likely to develop colds with that number increasing with each additional child in the household.
Yet, the study shows that a strengthened immune system is not what protects parents.
Rather, researchers say that “mental toughness” stemming from parenthood helps them to fight off the virus, reported the Daily Mail. . .
Researchers found that those people who had children were 52 percent less likely to get a cold.
Medical News Today said that the study also found that the risk of parents contracting a cold was even lower when the parents did not live with their children – 73 percent less likely.
Interestingly, when researchers controlled for factors such as immunity and exposure to the cold virus, parents still fought off the virus better than non-parents, pointing to psychological factors that may offer protection.
“Although parenthood was clearly protective, we were unable to identify an explanation for this association,” said study author Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in a press release.
“Because we controlled for immunity to the virus, we know that these differences did not occur just because the parents were more likely to have been exposed to the virus through their children.”
The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
One would assume that having kids would expose parents to all kinds of bugs their offspring bring home with them. But that having kids reduces the number of colds? And that the more kids you have the more protected you are against colds? And more so if your offspring aren’t around? It’s hard to imagine the connecting factors. That parents have greater “mental toughness”? May be, but since when does toughmindedness protect a person from viruses?
Any theories about why this should be?
I have a new book that I wrote with my daughter, Deaconness Mary Moerbe, with the support of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN, that has just been released from Crossway Books. It’s entitled Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.
Today when we hear “vocation” we mainly think of “job,” but for Luther and the early Reformers “vocation” referred above all to the estate of the family. (Work as a calling was itself seen as part of the larger estate of the household; that is, the family and what you do to support your family.) So Mary and I applied the doctrine of vocation to the specific offices of the family: Husband and wife; father and mother; child. We also have some things to say about brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and ancestors.
And I have to say that vocation provides a way of thinking about all of our family relationships that makes them more precious than ever. And it’s all so practical, giving us down-to-earth guidance that can help us through our everyday lives, including the problems that come up in marriage, parenting, and being a child. Our book turned into a comprehensive study of the what the Bible says about all of these offices. We show how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are literally present and at work in marriage (which images Christ and the Church), parenthood (the Fatherhood of God), and childhood (the Son of God). We deal with bearing the Cross in these vocations, frankly discussing the problems that people wrestle with in these different callings and what difference the Cross of Jesus can make with these problems. I even think our book illuminates things like sex and other topics that have been hard for Christians to talk about.
We do all of this without just laying down laws and rules, like most Christian books on the family. We don’t get bogged down in “who has to obey whom,” though I think we completely resolve the issues in those debates, which take on a completely different light when seen in terms of vocation. Throughout our focus is on the Gospel. It’s the Gospel that looms in God’s design behind marriage and parenting and even being a child.
I am not bragging about our book, since we did not invent the teachings that it puts forward, but I am just saying that I myself was greatly benefited by putting this book together. Mary, with her Deaconness training, brought to bear a depth of Scriptural application that I never thought of before. I have been studying vocation for a long time, since my book God at Work to which this is something of a sequel, but I really think we have broken new ground in apprehending God’s callings and how we can live out our faith in ordinary life.
When we made our proposal to Crossway, the editors said that they had thought they had seen every approach to family issues that was possible, and yet they had never seen anything like this. Which is sad, since the doctrine of vocation is the theology of the Christian life and the Biblical teaching on the family. If Christians can bring back from long disuse the doctrine of vocation, we can stop the breakdown of the family–at least in our own divorce rates, dysfunctional relationships, and counterproductive parenting–and become culturally influential again, like we used to be.
The Amazon site has a “Look Inside” feature, which will let you get a taste of it. And, yes, it’s also available on Kindle. So please forgive me for urging you to buy our book. And let other people know about it, including those having problems in their marriages, with their children, and with their parents. It would also be helpful to couples contemplating marriage or having just entered that estate. And for new parents. And for those who currently belong to a family, which includes everyone.
I would be embarrassed to be so crassly commercial if I didn’t think that you would be blessed by reading it, as Mary and I were blessed in writing it.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been a landmark of psychology, used in education and even church ministries. Now some psychologists are revising his model, making the pinnacle not “self-actualization” but, in the words of a Christianity Today column by Elrena Evans, “something more self-giving”:
Psychologists are considering a shift to famed psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Long a fixture in the training of educators and workforce managers, Maslow’s pyramid argues that humans’ basic needs (food, water, air, sleep) must be met before they can begin to seek other, “higher” fulfillments. It makes sense: bereft of basic needs, people can’t concentrate on bigger goals. I saw this pyramid again and again when in college, minoring in education, used to stress that a child who feels hungry, tired, and unsafe is really not going to care about learning algebra, and with good reason.
Now, though, a team of four researchers headed by Arizona State University social psychology professor Douglas T. Kenrick is challenging the top tier of Maslow’s pyramid. They write in a paper recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science that Maslow’s ultimate goal, the pinnacle of human achievement, is not “self-actualization” or the accomplishment of such higher-order functions as creativity, problem-solving, and morality. It is — wait for it — parenting.
The reasoning is evolutionary: Life’s biological goal cannot be self-focused, but has to be the perpetuation of the species. Still, I think the re-focus is more in line with Christianity. To get our moral thinking away from righteousness being just private conformity to rules and instead being an orientation to other people–loving and serving one’s neighbor– would be a big advance, and I’m glad if Maslow can help towards that end.
Indeed, the old hierarchy included “morality” but classified that as “self-actualization” rather than as loving and serving the neighbor. Even non-parents can find the “pinnacle” of life in selfless service, since it animates not just parenthood but all vocations.