An Inadvertent Cult

On October 18, 2014, I was inducted into a cult against my will.

But this cult is the most socially acceptable cult in America today, and my induction into it happened during one of the happiest moments of my life.

What happened? My son Calvin was born, and I was inducted into the Cult of Parenthood.

I first realized this cult existed a few years ago, but I didn’t know what to call it until I read an article about this cult on qz.com. It’s sobering to see how much our society worships our kids; so much so that even secular news sites are noticing. Authors Danielle & Astro Teller note,

As with many religions, complete unthinking devotion is required from its practitioners. Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first.

Is this the way it’s supposed to be? Did God design us to love our spouses “as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her” – only until kids came along?

I think not. And neither did most parents of my parents’ generation; three decades ago, it would have been uncommon to worship one’s children. Yet somehow, since then, things have changed.

The Tellers go on to discuss a chilling sign of the religion’s dominance in our culture.

…One need look no further than the 2005 essay in The New York Times by Ayelet Waldman, where the author explained that she loved her husband more than her four children. … strangers threatened her physically and told her that they would report her to child protective services. This is not how a civil society conducts open-minded discourse. This is how a religion persecutes a heretic.

The Bible talks about husband and wife “becoming one flesh.” But in the cult of parenthood, this is only allowed as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the kids. The Tellers noticed the pitfalls of this viewpoint, too.

We choose partners who we hope will be our soulmates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soulmate narrative, because parenthood has become our new priority and religion… Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose. Is it surprising that divorce rates are rising fastest for new empty nesters? Perhaps it is time that we gave the parenthood religion a second thought.

Perhaps indeed. So how do we avoid this? How can we redeem parent culture?

Good question. But I don’t know what kind of father I am yet. Heck, right now, I don’t even know what kind of son I have. What I do know is that I don’t want my marriage to look like that quote in twenty years. I know that my prayer is “what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Not even this cute little man who has captivated our hearts; his tiny shoulders are way too small to bear the weight of being my god.

My decades-long study on how to redeem parent culture begins now. I’ll let you know when I get it all figured out.

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Parent culture is easier to navigate, the more you know about Biblical manhood and womanhood. Matt Chandler’s The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption comes out on January 1; it and millions of other books are available on Amazon, and preordering or buying them through this affiliate link helps support Redeeming Culture at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

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