1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8: “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is ]good and acceptable before God.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”
Here St. Paul, insists that we have a unique responsibility first and foremost to our nuclear families and beyond that to our extended Trustee families. We are responsible to those nearest to us in the ordained concentric circles of responsibility and affection that God has spoken into existence and placed us.
St. Paul starts with the command that children and grandchildren have a unique responsibility to their parents above all others. What Paul has to say in vs. 3-4 could legitimately be condensed to say “Charity begins at home.” Just as parents have a unique responsibility for their children when raising them so children have a unique responsibility to their parents in their dotage.
One of the sins of the Social Security program (and there are many) is that it relieves the privilege of children from financially helping their parents in their dotage. In this, we see again another place where the State has stepped in to seize the unique responsibilities of family and Church and so diminish the authority and place of the family.
What the Holy Spirit has to say here of course is merely the working out of the 5th word to Honor our Fathers and Mothers. Further, this reminds us that the Honor for parents God requires is an honor that extends beyond childhood. We never get so old that our responsibility to honor our parents is eclipsed by how old we become. Indeed, honoring our parents extends beyond their deaths.
After Paul gives the responsibility of children and grandchildren to provide for their aged parents, he goes on to give the negative side of the matter by expanding the responsibility to beyond parents including extended family. In vs. 8 he says that those who do not provide for their relatives and especially their own household are worse than an infidel.
Obviously, this is a serious matter to use that kind of language. Again, the unique relationship that we have to family over those outside that circle is articulated here. We learn that to disobey the precepts of the gospel, is to deny or renounce the faith of the gospel; from whence we infer, that the faith of the gospel has the consequence of obedience to its precepts. When one disregards these precepts of the Christian faith one is worse than an infidel.
All this so far said to communicate the unique relationship we have to our family. We see here that it is true that grace does not destroy nature but rather grace perfects nature. St. Paul is calling the Christians to not do less than the pagans did.
Gelgacus, in Tacitus, says, “Nature dictates that to every one, his own children and relatives should be most dear.” Cicero says, “Every man should take care of his own family ” – suos quisque debet tueri; see Rosenmuller, in loc., and also numerous examples of the same kind quoted from Apuleius, Cicero, Plutarch, Homer, Terence, Virgil, and Servius, in Pricaeus, in loc.
We are not more Holy when we somehow say that since we are Christians these unique familial responsibilities no longer apply to us. Jesus aimed at this when He forbade the invoking of “Corban” in order to ignore financial responsibility to parents. (Mark 7:11)
Jesus took this responsibility so seriously that one of the last things he did while hanging on the Cross was to provide for his own Mother. (John 19:26-27)
We Christians above all should have a special regard for our family — both the family that is near to us and the family that is more distant from us. We can say that because St. Paul himself says that. The responsibility he says is inclusive of those more distant (relatives) but more so towards those most immediate; “especially his own parents.”
Elsewhere, St. Paul expands again his family concentric circle, showing that a special love while beginning with parents and then expanding to relatives also applies to his people spoken of as a whole.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3)
Love for the nation is merely the next concentric circle of God-ordained love. The most inner circle is the immediate family, the next concentric circle is love for more distant relatives. The next concentric circle is for one’s own people… one’s nation.
Within these concentric circles, there is included the family of God — Do good to all men but especially to the household of faith (Gal. 6:10) — which does not supersede or replace responsibility to family but is super-added so that our responsibilities to be an aid can never be exhausted.
In Romans 9:3 we note that Paul is not merely talking about his immediate family. Paul is speaking about the household of Israel. This love of Paul for his people is something extraordinary when one considers the meat-grinder his own people put him through. Conspiracy to murder him. Beatings. The raising of unrest upon his arrival in a city. The opposition of Paul’s own people to Paul is the stuff that you and I would walk away from in a skinny minute and yet Paul still proclaims his love for his own kinsmen according to the flesh.
So, there it is in a nutshell. God has ordained that family love be honored in a vision of concentric circles. Most immediately we have a responsibility to what we call today our Nuclear family. From there we have a responsibility to our extended family. The next concentric circle of responsibility is our nation since the nation is but family writ large. Included in those circles is the family of God with the same principle of being an aid first to those in our own immediate fellowship and then outward from there.
This simple Biblical truth is now anathema in many quarters in the modern Church. This opposition to the Biblical truth on the family set forth by Scripture had its origins long ago by the enemy of Christianity. Here we quote from a chap who was Karl Marx before Karl Marx was Karl Marx;
“With the origin of nations and peoples the world ceased to be a great family, a single Kingdom; the great tie of Nature was torn… Nationalism took the place of love of mankind… Now it became a virtue to magnify one’s Fatherland at the expense of whoever was not enclosed within its limits, now as a means to this narrow end, it was permitted to despise and outwit foreigners indeed even to insult them. This virtue was called “Patriotism,” …. So out of Patriotism arose Localism, the family spirit, and finally Egoism… Diminish Patriotism, then men will learn to know each other again as such, their dependence on each other will be lost the bond of union will be widened out.”
This was written by one of the evilest men who has ever walked the planet. Louis Blanc called him “the profoundest conspirator of all time.” He was one of the intellectual forerunners of Karl Marx. The name of the author of our quote is Adam Weishaupt.
Keep in mind that Weishaupt wrote what he wrote in the quote above as a man committed to the 18th-century version of a New World Order. As such Weishaupt is opposed to Nationalism, Patriotism, Family and Patriarchy. He viewed them as desultory vestiges of Christianity.
The reason I quote this though is that the quote above or some version of it could easily be heard from Reformed pulpits across this country on any given Lord’s Day. Many of our American clergy corps has adopted the Weishauptian paradigm of hatred for Nations, Family, Patriotism, and Patriarchy.
Note in the Weishaupt quote the idea that the problem with Nationalism is that it breaks up the brotherhood of all men. In doing so Weishaupt denies the Biblical antithesis that insists on the irremediable chasm between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. All men … all ministers who declaim against Nationalism and champion some form of “the brotherhood of all men” are denying this antithesis.
Of course, Weishaupt is just lying through his serpentine tongue when he talks about how Nationalism took the place of the love of all mankind. That is like saying, “because I love my wife, therefore, I hate all other women.” It is a non-sequitur. Similarly, the idea that love of a nation means I will abuse foreigners is like saying that love of my family means I will abuse my neighbors who are not part of my family. It is complete irrationality. Suffice it to say that if one loves all men equally then one will love no one uniquely. General love will never occur where particular loves are eliminated.
Notice that is not merely Nationalism and Patriotism that Weishaupt inveighs against but it is also the love of family, and love of the local. In each case, Weishaupt prefers the love of generic humanity over love for what God has placed nearest to us — family, locales, and ethne. Weishaupt offers us Satanism unpacked and in your face.
And yet in many quarters that is exactly what we are getting from pulpits across the country — this same kind of invective against love of family, kinsmen, and locale. This same kind of invective against patriotism, patriarchy, and Fatherland. It is as if Satan is manning our pulpits speaking in a Jesus costume. Here are some examples of what I am getting at,
“White nationalism is a manifestation of an ancient evil that we as Christians, of all people, ought to recognize immediately. White nationalism emerges from what the Bible calls “the way of the flesh.” This is a form of idolatry that exalts one’s own creaturely attributes, making a god out of, for instance, one’s ancestral origins or one’s tribal culture.”
Do we as Christians believe in “nationalism”? No, we don’t. We believe in the international, catholic, universal community of the Church.”~~James Jordan
“We cannot be nationalists.”~~Peter Leithart
“When evangelicals embrace an America-first nationalism, the gospel is co-opted and betrayed.”~~Mark Labberton, president of Fuller
Nationalism, on the other hand, is easier to define. David Koyzis, for instance, offers a theological definition of nationalism as a political arrangement in which the people deify the nation, viewing their nation as the Savior that will protect them from the evil of being ruled by those who are different from them.”
Southeastern Theological Seminary
“American nationalism flies right in the face of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the command of Christ given in the great commission.”
President — Southern Seminary
I think nationalism (like populism) is an inherently leftist movement that leads to progressivism; ” — Joe Carter
“Christian Nationalism puts stress on getting morality enshrined in the law of the land. Jesus calls for conversions and changed lives.”
“Islam is not an external threat in the United State to Christianity but Christian Nationalism is a Christian heresy. It is, therefore, an internal threat both to the message and the witness of the Church.”
Now we want to be careful here. We don’t want to make the same mistakes on this subject that many of the above haters of Christian Nationalism have made. We want to make some proper distinctions.
First, we need to admit that it is entirely possible and has happened repeatedly throughout history where people groups can make an idol of their nation. Like all idolatries, this idolatry is heinous to God. Those who love their people group or nation above love of God and His people across tribe, tongue and nations and who do not repent will spend forever in hell.
We agree with Rev. Hugh M’Neile from the 19th century,
The inspired prophets were patriots, were, therefore, national protesters against idolatry and every evil work. Therefore they were Reformers. They were Reformers and patriots. Our own Reformers were patriots as well as Christians;
Rev. Hugh M’Neile, M.A.
Sermon — Nationalism in Religion
Delivered — 08 May, 1839
Second, we need to admit that much of the Nationalism that exists in America is more than a little misdirected. This misdirected love of country is driven by a profound misunderstanding of American History. There are boatloads of sins that America should be repenting for and any denial of that in favor of the attitude, “My country right or wrong… still my country,” makes it difficult for those of us who want to champion a proper love of nation.
Third, in order to find a Biblical Nationalism, we need to be honest about our history. Biblical Nationalism that takes pride in wars of aggression or the participation in wars that contributed to the destruction of old Christendom needs to be repudiated. We need to love God and our people enough to tell them the unvarnished truth about where our Government in our name and under our flag brought wickedness upon other peoples and other lands. For example, there is no Biblical Nationalism found in defending our participation in the 2 World Wars of the 2oth century. No Biblical Nationalism in defending our murdering countless civilians in our Firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo. No Biblical Nationalism in defending the murdering of millions in Eastern Europe as a result of Teheran and Yalta. If we are going to embrace Biblical Nationalism then we must embrace it as it is consistent with the tenets of Biblical Christianity and repudiate it where it is not consistent with Biblical Christianity.
Fourth, as a Biblical Nationalist I desire to see not only the Christianization of my own people but also I desire to see the Christianization of all peoples in their respective nations. Love of God, and love of people, require me to seek the Christianization of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, in their tribes, tongues, and nations. However as Charles Spurgeon spoke, our Missionary efforts begin first among our own kith and kin;
“Piety must begin at home as well as charity. Conversion should begin with those who are nearest to us in ties of relationship. I stir you up, not to be attempting missionary labors for India, not to be casting eyes of pity across to Africa, not to be occupied so much with tears for popish and heathen lands, as for your own children, your own flesh and blood, your own neighbors, your own acquaintance. Lift up your cry to heaven for them, and then afterward you shall preach among the nations.”
“Andrew goes to Cappadocia in his after-life, but he begins with his brother (Peter); and you shall labor where you please in years to come, but FIRST of all YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD, first of all those who are under your own shadow must receive your guardian care. Be wise in this thing; use the ability you have, and use it amongst those who are NEAR AT HAND.”
WORDS OF COUNSEL FOR CHRISTIAN WORKERS, pp. 5-6
Christians used to speak like this Christian theologian;
“Of human nature, there is a multiplex unfoldment; in the individual, human nature is unfolded into personality; in the human race, into individuality; furthermore, there is an unfoldment of human nature along the lines of sex and of blood-relationship. Now every one of these unfoldments brings into view a new phase of human nature.”
The Doctrine of God; p. 304
Here Bavinck is recognizing the reality and propriety of family. God has created us with natural attachments that are good and proper. Love of nation is merely the next logical extension of love of family. Love of place is derivative of love of family. Families exist in particular places and locales and the love that exists for family exist then also for the place and locale where the family has prospered.
It is this kind of love for one’s own people that found one of the greatest theologians in the 2oth century writing,
“Nationalism, within proper limits, has the divine sanction; an imperialism that would, in the interest of one people, obliterate all lines of distinction is everywhere condemned as contrary to the divine will. Later prophecy raises its voice against the attempt at world-power, and that not only, as is sometimes assumed, because it threatens Israel, but for the far more principal reason, that the whole idea is pagan and immoral.
Now it is through maintaining the national diversities, as these express themselves in the difference of language, and are in turn upheld by this difference, that God prevents realization of the attempted scheme… [In this] was a positive intent that concerned the natural life of humanity. Under the providence of God, each race or nation has a positive purpose to serve, fulfillment of which depends on relative seclusion from others.”
We have to ask, will we pursue a Biblical Nationalism with the love of concentric circles or will we follow too many of the current clergy who damn every form of Nationalism as being from the Devil?