From Andrea Palpant Dilley:
I have the same response to the New Radical movement, led by David Platt and other pastors, which rallies western Christians to leave behind the ease of 21st-century living and return to the iconoclast vision of the early church. (See Christianity Today‘sHere Come the Radicals). The New Radicals mean no harm. In fact, they mean great good. They want justice. They want change. They want complacent Christians pushed out of their comfort zones and into the slums of a suffering world. What’s wrong with that?
Here’s what: Their vision has the potential to leave suburban moms looking like lazy Christians. It’s driven by a stereotypically male way of thinking that often values the dramatic over the mundane and loses sight of people who engage the greater good through the invisible monotony of home-making, childrearing, and other unseen acts of service. Men and women alike pine to make an impact—it’s human nature at its best and the imago Dei at work in us—but by virtue of child-bearing biology and traditional ties to the domestic economy, women have been forced to come to terms with the “mundane good” in a more systematic way than most men. (That’s changing, of course, with shifting roles in the home.) But no one gets medals or wall plaques for practicing the mundane good. By New Radical standards, we moms aren’t Christian enough unless we’re serving at a soup kitchen in the inner city or adopting orphans from Ethiopia….
I’m still trying to figure it out. My days are filled with activities that would make David Platt yawn with boredom: I change diapers. I scrub pee out of carpets. I wipe vomit off the kitchen floor. Most days, I’m lucky to get out of the house at all, and if I do, I’m usually taking my 10-month-old and 4-year-old to visit the elderly woman down the street. We take dog treats to her yippy dog, sit at her kitchen table eating pretzels, and ask about her arthritis. What greater good do I serve? My widowed neighbor feels less lonely. My kids learn about hospitality and Christian love. That’s about it….
We all need each other, and we need to serve in all spaces—both the suburban kitchen and the urban slums. With that in mind, I don’t denigrate the core vision of the New Radicals, challenging suburbanite Christians, in particular, to engage the greater good in both a global and inner city context. I simply want to expand their vision to include the moms (and dads) who serve day in and day out on the domestic front. I want to praise them just as they are, changing the world one diaper at a time. Suburbia needs Jesus, too.