My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family: Living Out Your Faith With Those Who Know You BestMy Crazy Imperfect Christian Family: Living Out Your Faith With Those Who Know You Best
Glenn T. Stanton
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Home can be the toughest place to live out our faith. Focus on the Family research analyst Stanton explores and debunks the myths surrounding the "perfect Christian family" and shows you how to be the parent, spouse, child, and sibling that God wants you to be---open and real. 221 pages, softcover from NavPress.
     

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1. Is this your family on the cover of your book, My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family?
No, my family is even less perfect than that one!

2. Does your book offer some easy steps to a godlier family-like an Idiot's Guide to Building Christian Families?
The wonder and glory of living for Christ in family cannot be whittled down to some simple steps or formulas and anyone who tells you it can is not being honest with you. The majesty and beauty of Christianity is far too profound to be captured in 5 easy steps. But there are some very vital ideas that are not difficult to understand, and can radically transform the way we view and live out the Christian story in our family lives. The primary one is the fact that God became man and did so through a simple, common family.

3. Why is family so important in the Christian worldview?
For many reasons, but primarily because of the reality of the Trinity, because Christmas happened and because of the language we use speak of the Kingdom of God. All these tell us that family is deeply profound and sacred, even the "changing diapers" part. I explain it all in the book!

4. Where does the idea of the "perfect Christian family" come from?
That's a good question...but it didn't come from the Bible...have you ever checked out the families there. There were far more messy than any of our families. Goodness, Adam and Eve, the family that came straight from God had kids literally killing each other. How many can say our families are that bad?

5. Are you giving us permission to be imperfect?
No one needs permission to be imperfect. That is what all of us ARE!! But we DO need permission be honest about our imperfection. Perfect families have no need of Christ and we cannot forget that in our imperfection at home is where Christ does His most important transformative work in our lives. To deny our imperfection is to deny a great gift and tool of God.

6. What are some of the myths or unreasonable expectations Christians hold about family life? What is the truth?
There are many...Two of the primary are the "soul mate" and "no fight" myths and they are related. The first believes that God has a perfect soulmate picked out for each of us and that if we can find that person, a wonderful, glorious, harmonious marriage will follow. The reality is marriage brings together two imperfect people who commit to love and serve each other through good and bad. That is what the marriage vow is all about. In a good marriage, these people BECOME soulmates over their years together. The other says the sign of a good marriage is never having an argument. This is more likely a sign of these people not having a pulse. A good marriage is not judged by how much you fight, but how well you fight. Do you handle life's inevitable disagreements in a healthy, respectful way? That is the sign of a good marriage.

7. Why do we hurt the ones we love? You know, why are we jerks to those we live with?
Because what we are at home is who we are. And the BIG reason is because we are comfortable at home. We can let our let our hair down. But we also have to deal with consequences of letting that hair down and that means our loved ones are going try to make us behave. That forces us to change our behavior at a much deeper level. People at work and out in the community seldom get such a peek at who we really are and therefore cannot challenge us to change at deeper level. Family alone does this and it is a gift from God.

8. What is the key to loving Christ in your family?
It is both very simple and very profound. It doesn't mean doing all the right things that we think Christians should do. It means simply doing what that great Christmas hymn calls us to do...."Oh come let us adore Him...Christ the Lord" Adore Christ. No one ever got in trouble by doing that too much! And adore His Lordship. Realizing that as the first chapter of Colossians tells us that ALL things were created by Him and for Him and He sustains ALL things. Christ Lordship is over ALL of life and not just religious life. We honor and adore His Lordship when we realize that there is no part of creation that doesn't hold Christ's intense interest, nothing. So, in peeling carrots, taking training wheels off bikes, cleaning dishes, writing a business proposal...all of it no less interesting to Christ than leading a bible study or going to church. When we limit Christ's interest to the religious parts of life, we limit His Lordship.

9. Is good Christian living based on rules or something more?
That is largely what this book is about. The Pharisees lived by rules. Christians live by the spirit of those rules and Christ said they were summed up in two rules: Love God with everything you have and love others like you love yourself. There are number of things that should mark every Christian. Paul told us the first was love. Another would be grace, like the grace of our Father toward us and that of the father in the prodigal son story. As parents and spouses we should also recognize the individuality of our spouse and children and encourage them to blossom in who God has made them to be. We should never try to fit people in our own box that seems right to us. Also, we must recognize Christ's Lordship, His intense interest in every part of human life. And our interests should be as broad as His.

10. What is God's purpose in family life?
To reflect His very trinitarian image in the world and to transform us into His image...a redemption of every part of our life, all the ordinary mundane part of daily life along with what we typically think of as the "religious" parts of life. But God wants us all to realize that all of life is sacred and glorious and is there for our transformation.

11. What are some basic characteristics that should be evident in a Christian home?
Love, Grace, Individuality, Worship, Service, recognition and celebration of the natural and supernatural, all wrapped up in a recognition of Christ's Lordship over every part of human experience and creation.

12. In your book, My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family, you mention that one of the important things to realize is that the sacred can be found in the mundane. Explain.
In the incarnation, when God became man in the person of Christ, He spent 30 years on earth before he started His public ministry. Scripture, or secular historical records, give us no picture of what those years of our Savior's life was like. I think because there was nothing worth noting. Christ, the King and Creator of the universe, was content to simply linger (I love that word!) in a day-in-day-out everyday family life all of us. He worked, rested, prepared and cleaned up meals, fetched water for His mother, enjoyed time with friends, etc. He did all the things we did. Think of that! God was content to just do normal, boring everyday things for his 33 year life. Because God was content to do them, and because He created them after all, makes all those seemingly insignificant things we do every day, very sacred. And why should we try to avoid all these things when the Lord of the Universe was content to participate in them. This also means that Christianity also brings together the sacred and mundane like no other philosophy in the world.

13. What role does sex play in understanding how to live out your faith in family life?
Christians don't often recognize that sex is big to God. It was His idea. In fact, the first chapter of Genesis tells us the human sexual embrace is a wonderful earthly picture of the intimacy and nature of the relationship the Trinity shares. God says, "Let US make man in Our image..." and "male and female He created them." The first command God gives Adam and Eve is not to pray, do devotions, start planting a garden or setting up a household...but to enjoy each other physically and produce new human life.

14. What are some of the biggest obstacles Christian families face?
I think one of the biggest obstacles is not feeling the freedom or permission to be normal, regular people. Too many of us are trying to be something that doesn't exist anywhere, not in real life and not in the bible...and that is perfect. We often think morally about family life, but we don't think Christianly and there is a big difference between the two. That is major theme in my book. Another is lack of vision for what Christ wants us to accomplish in our families and following His leading rather than what the most popular movements at the time might be.

15. Is the divorce rate for Christians really higher than that of non-Christians? What can we do in our marriages and family life to avoid being a part of this statistic?
It unfortunately is among some denominations. But what research also shows is that while church membership doesn't seem to make much of a difference, living under Christ's Lordship does. For couples who attend church every week and pray together regularly are much less likely to divorce. We can improve our marriages, not by simply joining a church, but by seeking to love Christ together and inviting Him to be the boss and third party of the marriage.

16. Can you share with us some stories of your own family's ups and downs?
Jackie and I have been married for twenty-two years and they have been great years, but they haven't all been easy. We struggled for many years with infertility, thinking we might no ever have children. But now, the joke is on us with our five little kids. Once the pump got primed, they just kept coming. We both also struggle in our different personalities also, and what is important to both of us. Jackie can get freaky about safety and health issues (our kids think its a sin to drink tap water) and I am hyper about money and orderliness issues (our kids think its also a sin to leave lights on!). We are both trying to ease off on these little things and just be a more relaxed, because they do cause a good deal of tension at times. We also deal with all the issues parents deal with small children about...getting them to treat each other nicely, help with chores, be respectful, etc. We wonder at times, like all parents, whose kids these are.

17. What advice can you offer listeners/readers who are struggling in their family relationships? For those whose marriages are strained?
First, realize that every marraige has struggles and people around you have far deeper issues than most imagine. Second, realize that your marriage, as bad as it might be, is a very important treasure to you and your family. Research shows that those in very unhappy marriages are significantly more likely to have a much happier life in five years by sticking in the marriage than divorcing. One way couples can help improve a strained marriage is to find an older married couple who you trust and has worked through hard times. Such couples can be very helpful.

18. Where can listeners/readers find a copy of your book?
Local Christian bookstore, Amazon, NavPress.com