It’s very gratifying for a writer to hear from a reader who “gets” what the writer was trying to say. So I would like to humbly commend to you Heather Judd’s review of Family Vocation, excerpted and linked after the jump.
Which reminds me that you have through Friday to sign up to win a free copy of that book from GoodReads. Just click on the widget after the jump.
Christian bookstores are filled with books on building better marriages, raising godly children, and running well-ordered families. Some are self-help volumes of checklists and tips hardly distinguishable from secular pop-psychology. Others base their advice on the Scriptures but focus almost exclusively on passages that impart menacing commandments or admonishing proverbs. Such books seem to offer biblical, practical advice, and yet most do not last long before being replaced by some better self-improvement system or new crop of Bible passages to direct your family life to bliss, piety, and neatly-organized sock drawers. Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Lutheran father-daughter team Gene Veith and Mary Moerbe is a far different—and far better—kind of Christian book on family relationships.
As it engages the three main family relationships of marriage, parenting, and childhood, Family Vocation always begins from sound theology and moves outward to apply the general scriptural truths to the thorny practicalities of life within human families. Counter-intuitive though it seems, this approach actually proves far more practical than starting with specific concerns and then trying to paste on theological truths. The authors rightly believe that all Christians benefit from understanding what God says about husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. Because this is not a self-help book for some specific demographic, it is able to encompass all the variations of family relationships, both healthy and broken, and to speak to them with broadly applicable truth rather than presenting a specific to-do list that works for some and leaves others out in the cold.
The key to this all-encompassing view of Christian family life is the concept of vocation, which Veith and Moerbe explain well in their opening chapters and apply consistently throughout the book. As they illustrate time and again, understanding all familial roles as God’s “callings” means that we look for the ways in which those roles allow us to show love and service to our neighbor, which most certainly includes husband, wife, parents, and children. Thus, this book is not just for those who are married (though it may be most useful to them), but for all Christians, because every human being by virtue of being born a son or daughter has practical, God-given ways in which he or she is called to love and serve others.
Yet one of the great beauties of this book is how well it goes beyond the earthy practicalities to unfold the deeply meaningful truth that the love we show in our vocations is a participation in God’s love.