Pleasure or Productivity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 16, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

What I am writing today is something that I started chewing on as a result of recent teachings by one of my church elders. As the Lord has been dealing with him, he has been investigating what is going on in the American home. What he’s been finding is something I believe we have all known all along, but we have struggled to put our finger on it.

It is difficult to have any remote knowledge of today’s culture and not acknowledge that something is seriously wrong with the nuclear family unit in our culture. More children are raised in broken or non-traditional homes (traditional being a mother and father in proper marriage) than ever before. It seems that the government and the media are seeking and pushing to put the final nails in the coffin of “traditional marriage” with all this LGBT+, transgenderism, gender fluidity, etc. But how did this happen? We are recognizing this is a problem now, but what enabled this madness and insanity to even be thinkable? It’s not just the failure of morality. It is the failure of a proper view of the nuclear family and the home.

The role and function of the home drastically changed in the last 150 years, and this can be traced directly to the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution initiated factory production, the explosion and initiation of modern technology, and all but ended the United States being an agrarian society. With the advent of factories, fathers no longer merely operated their own farms but instead left the home to go work at the factories. Initially, the families traveled with the fathers, but soon labor laws and such separated the children and wives from the husbands, and this changed everything.

Fathers were no longer home most of the day, and they worked in factories instead of farms. In fact, many of the factory owners would buy large pieces of land to build homes for the workers. Families not longer had work to do at home, and children were now bored. Schools were not very common at this time. Kids were educated at home and despite a lack of “formal” education as we know it today, they were not uneducated. They could do far more than read and write – Greek and Latin, not just English. But during this time, parents were starting to gather together to hire teachers to educate their kids while they did their jobs. The public school system was birthed out of this situation.

This situation also developed a lot of technology which would quickly and rapidly replace manual labor. Children would go to school and come home where there was little to do because the homes were built for the mere purpose of housing workers for the factories. As technology increased, radio and television entered the picture. So did professional sports as transportation options increased from your typical horse. What did this do? It made entertainment the main activity when not at work or school. It has been that way every since.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the home was a center of production. The entire home – the parents and the kids – were all involved in not merely working the farm but producing things that could be shared with society. Here, having a lot of children was important not only for mere survival for more hands to do the jobs, but each were viewed as an asset. This is one of the reasons why Scripture tells us that children are a blessing, and a quiver of children is a father’s crown.

But now, what has happened is children are seen as a liability, as an expense, and worse, as stealing from the enjoyment and pleasure that you could have without them. Today, parents long to get their kids out of the home and into schools or sports. Teachers long for the breaks to be rid of the kids, too. But the home is no longer a place of production and is instead a place of consumption. The home is used for ultimately three things: eating, sleeping, and consuming.

A side effect of the transformation of the home as being a place of production to a place of consumption is a total breakdown the family. Dad is at work, and when he is at home, he is there to consume sports and beer and rest. Don’t believe me? Watch any sitcom or commercial in the last 30 years. The man’s job is to work, then drink and do sports. Provide for society and do nothing in the home. Take notice that all these factory jobs did something else: make work to provide for society out there and have no value to the home itself. Most of our jobs today are completely irrelevant to our home life.

So, with dad always out away from home and with home being nothing more than just a place to eat and sleep, dad gets tired of home and his wife and kids. Being away from home most of the time and with home being only a place for consumption, the wife is no longer satisfactory, and thus adultery is now an option. But with the home being a center of consumption and pleasure, that also turned and made marriage just about sex and pleasure.

It gets worse because this culture has carried into the church. As the home goes, so goes the church. As the home became a center of pleasure, so became the church. Most people look for a church that meet their needs, and by needs we are talking about the American culture of pleasure and consumption. What can this church offer me? Music, preaching, youth program, etc. Many complain about their pastors because they “are not getting fed,” despite doing weekly small groups and daily Bible reading. What is the problem? Consumption and pleasure instead of productivity and offering your skills and gifts to edify and build the church.

What my church elder is challenging us to do is to examine our lives and our homes. We can’t throw away all the technology, but what steps could we take to move our home from a place of pleasure and consumption into a place of productivity? This is not limited to those who are married with kids. I am single, and I am chewing on this. How can I as a single man without a family make my home to be a place of productivity, for a place where I can edify and build the church? Part of what I can do is the writing I have been doing. But I know that is not enough. So I am chewing on what else I can be doing to be productive and to make the most use of my time. However, we need to be watchful for the notion of being too busy serving God that we completely ignore being with God. That is for another discussion.

What can you do? How can you make your home no longer a center for consumption (though there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of your labor) and into a place that wisely uses the resources we have been given? I am processing what I need to be doing or what I can do better. Let us all pursue this.

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