Alistair Begg Pleads The Fifth (Commandment)

Came across this quote in a sermon I listened to this morning and thought it might speak to others... it's rich with potential fodder for thought.

“We honor our parents when we repay the love and trouble they’ve taken in our lives. The Pharisees were real bad at this stuff, and they tried to justify it by their commitment to the church. They were just downright hypocritical. They were saying this in Matt. 15—if a man says to his mother and father, “whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God", he is not to honor his father with it. And Jesus says, "thus, you nullify the Word of God."… In other words, you can’t weasel out of your commitment to your mum and dad because you’re giving to the building program at church. Don’t tell your parents you won’t be able to see them in Arizona because you’re tithing to the building plan. 

Your parents are your parents. That’s what Jesus is saying. If there’s widows in your church and they’ve got children and they’ve got grandchildren, then let the children and grandchildren take care of the widows. If our churches and families were serious about this, it would be radically different. And it’s going to have to get radically different, because this system isn’t going to work. You can’t keep getting older and older and older people with less and less capacity to care for themselves and plug it up by any system except the system that God ordained. 
The Chinese understand this… they’re committed to the extended family. African cultures understand this… they’re committed to the extended family. We just reject it—flat out reject it. 
…Barely half of the American public believe it’s the children’s responsibility to look after their parents. 
But you know what? Why would we be surprised? Do we think this is going to change? Do you think that the children who tomorrow at the age of seven months are going to be taken to a day care center, not because their dad died in the war and their mommy has to go to work, but because their mommy wants to be a “real person” and doesn’t believe in parenting and in marriage and in motherhood. She wants to be a “real” person and so she’s gonna put her seven-month-old in the care of some yahoo who ought to be staying home looking after her kids probably. And the whole thing goes down the tubes from there. 
So we’ve got all these tiny little kids living in these boxes; it’s unbelievable. If you think—if we think—that children who have been dumped for the first six years of their lives are gonna somehow come through for their mom and dad in the last six years of their lives, we’re crazy! 
What’s the answer? The Fifth Commandment! Given by God to Moses thousands of years ago, and relevant this morning. 
There’s something sadly wrong when other cultures without Bibles are better at dealing with the long-term care of their elderly than we, with our Bibles, and our apparent commitment to Jesus Christ. 
What do we do? We push people up the ladder of success fast, so that we can topple them off as quickly as we can. We don’t respect old age; we don’t respect wisdom. We just don’t. We don’t ask for their wisdom or guidance; we blow them off. We are committed to youth. We’re not committed to youth because youth is tremendously efficient or because of hard work—we’re committed to youth on the basis of image. … Youth is worshipped. Old age is taboo, dreaded, or despised. We live in a society that isolates and impoverishes those who have given their lives so that we might have an existence. This is really wrong! 
…And I’ve gotta tell you, when the signal goes out, and the word is sent, and the call is made, the people who go first to respond to this are not your conservative, evangelical, committed, Bible-believing Christians. The people who go are the people with a theology that we would not embrace but with a heart that we cannot match. 
The fifth commandment says to me: we better get our hearts and our attitudes and our resources in line with our convictions, that as parents we better teach the wee ones to honor us as they grow. But in our growth, we better not forget that those who have given their lives on our behalf demand our utmost commitment and respect at the end of their days. ”
Alistair Begg – “Family Life, God’s Way”

Also-- here's a little reminder that if you're interested in my "book reviews" for the 2009 reading list, I'm adding to it as I go, and have added a couple recently... here's the link.


Anonymous said...

Amen and amen!

I have always told my parents that I will care for them if and when the need arises because they brought me into this world and I owe them that honor. My hero is my grandmother who left everything to care for her own mother for 4 years before she died.

To hear pastors say that parents should choose a retirement home now so as not to be a burden on their children makes me angry and sad. Though caring for them may be difficult, it is the right thing to do. They stayed up with me through nights, changed my diapers, gave me baths, fed me with a spoon, bandaged my owies, wiped my tears (and snot), cleaned up my puke, changed my sheets, washed my clothes, poured their money, time, and love into caring for me. The very least I could do is to give back a few years to make sure they are loved and safe before they pass on.

Then again, they didn't dump me into a daycare.


Sandi said...

Definitely things to ponder. Though I don't disagree, being one of those dumped in a daycare, latch key kids whose entire childhood was lived around both parents wants and desires instead of their family life....I honestly would struggle. Not saying I wouldn't do it but something I should probably start thinking about now. The other issue is I live in another country then my mom and she lives with my stepfather (my father died of cancer 6 years ago).Do I have a resposibility to my stepdad? Also am I to care for my dad's wife he left behind? Having "four" parents certainly adds another level to this.
Anyway all that to say, thanks for making me think :o)

Domestically Inclined said...

Thank yo so much for sharing this! God's way is always the best! I must share this post.

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Jess, loved this piece. My husband and I have tossed around ideas about this. Clearly, a lot of variables come into play...serious medical issues that require skilled nursing care, desires of the elder (i.e. my own grandmother would refuse to leave her home...thereby forcing my parents to move in there..), and desires of the adult children. I often wonder how couples deal with it if one spouse is opposed, namely the husband. What does submission come into play there?? It would be a sticky situation indeed to be placed between your husband and ailing parents.

Word Warrior said...

So very profound, and yet not. I'm linking to it.

Polly said...

A-MEN! I love Begg and had not yet heard this one.

No one in my immediate family has ever gone into a nursing home situation. When my paternal great-grandmother got "old", my grandmother moved in with her....(and my great-grandma lived to be 100!!)...then that grandmother died of cancer in her own home, surrounded by her family. My maternal great-grandparents died at home as well in their 90s...with family all living on the same farm (so could check on them frequently etc). I am so happy to live on the same farm as my grandparents and can look after them (along w/ aunt/uncle on the same property). I was a daycare baby, but it was because my parents divorced and my mother and was left w/out much choice but to work, though she would have MUCH rather stayed home. (And luckily I was in a person's home, not an actual daycare facility--more family environment.)

Anyhow. Great post. We DO have a responsibility to take care of our parents and grandparents. (And sometimes other relatives...I can say this b/c my younger sister has lived with us off and on since our mother died in 2001. ;))

Mandi said...

He definitely doesn't mince words, huh?

I loved everything he said, though, and I think it was spot on!

We've always been committed to caring for any of our grandparents as needed (which is the stage we're at now) and, later, our parents.

I will say, however, that I was in daycare from a young age, and I don't resent my parents for that or hold it against them. I don't know if that's because their attitude was never one of being inconvenienced when we were together or just by the grace of God, but either way, I think that honoring our parents and grandparents is sorely lacking in our culture!

Beth@Not a Bow in Sight said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing :)

Hope S. said...

First of all, a guy can't preach this, I'm sorry... but guys don't know what it's like to be a woman, so they don't have a right to say what they think a woman should do. A woman should do what she thinks scripture and God are leading her to do.

Secondly, I (like many other women in the real world) work. I have to work and so does my husband. If we don't both work, then we can't feed our kids. Who are you to judge? Just because a woman puts their kids in daycare doesn't mean she's going against God. People try to make us feel guilty. All I have to say is that if you have a problem with me working, then YOU can buy my family food and YOU can pay for my children's education and YOU can pay for our insurance and medical bills. Go ahead.

And don't judge.

Anonymous said...

My problem with all of this is that if every woman in the world stayed home like he says (and you say), then the world couldn't function. If That's the case, then maybe you should re-look as to how you interpret Scripture. If the world couldn't function that way, then obviously it's not right.

Mom Of E's said...

Wow, Jess, this was very powerful. It gave me goosebumps as I read it, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I read it. Thanks for sharing this.....I'll be sharing it for discussion with my women's group.


Jess said...

A guy and did can preach it.

And the premise you put forth just isn't right... you don't have to *be* something in order to talk about it or have an opinion about it. Particularly in the context of the biblical Christian life. I am not a little boy, and yet I believe and know that it's wrong for a little boy to steal money or punch another kid for no reason. I am not an alcoholic and yet I know and believe that it's wrong for that alcoholic, however drunk, to beat his wife.

Now, if you want to discuss daycare, we can go there. But beware-- I'll welcome men, stay home moms, and anyone else in on the discussion-- not just people who have "been there", and not just people who "know what it's like to be a woman".

And on your last point, you're right, I don't know you from Adam-- and yet I can see from your comment that you aren't just working to "feed your kids" as you state, but that apparently there are educational goals and medical priorities in the mix. Hear me: I'm not saying those are wrong; what I am saying is that this needs to be a fully honest discussion. Let's not say we're doing it only for "food" and then leave off more than half of the other perks and/or benefits we're enjoying from the arrangement we choose.

And again, I'm not making a judgment here for anyone else's family... I have close friends and family that work and have used or use day care. There were times I myself was in daycare growing up. But let's be honest about it when we discuss it and not use hyperbole and shadow to conceal reality.


Jess said...

Please show me a place where I (or Begg) have EVER said that "every woman in the world should stay home"! If you're gonna pick a fight, at least pick it over something I've actually said-- I'm sure you'd find plenty to disagree with in what's actually written in plain black and white.

Bethany Hudson said...

This is something my husband and I think about a lot. We have both been raised with the understanding that we will care for our aging parents. Our parents took care of their parents (and still are!) The trouble for us is that we are both only children so we will have to two of us caring for our own children PLUS FOUR aging parents--because our parents had us when they were older, so we will definitely have little ones around when our parents start having health troubles. My father lives in NJ, mother in NY, husband's parents in ID, and we live in WA. Moreover, my father is an alcoholic and my MIL is an abusive schizophrenic. We still plan on tryin to care for them all, but sometimes I stop and think, "HOW?" Then, I remember that God is faithful and that He never said this stuff would be enjoyable, just that it's our duty and He will sanctify us through it.

Anonymous said...

Many families make it on one income - and often that income is not very much, relatively speaking. There are so many options available - a second job for the husband that can fit around family time, work-from-home opportunities, living with extended family to share & reduce living expenses. It's not an all-or-nothing deal. But the fact remains that the 5th commandment exists, and our parents are due honor whether it is an inconvenience to us or not, whether we want to do it or not.

BTW, I used to work outside the home. I quit about 3 years ago and, on paper, the numbers didn't work out. By the grace of God and several unforeseen opportunities & blessings, I now have two more children and my husband's income has been enough to live on ($35K/yr). Sometimes we have to take the step of faith because our children deserve the best we can give them - not money, but ourselves. We see too many wants as needs and budget accordingly. That's a shame.


Anonymous said...

It is a hard thing but it is a God thing to care for our parents in their golden age.

This is where we need God to work the fruit of the spirit in us. To lay down our lives and let him grow us and give us the grace to serve those who no longer can care for themselves.

A family member of mine recently went to work in a nursing home. This is a mom whose heart is at home but circumstances out of her control have brought this about.

We talked about how the new job was going and she said nursing homes are not what people think. This one is a very good one with all the newest facilities and comforts. She said that physical gentleness is lacking for these helpless, weak and thin souls.

The elderly at this place are there for the rest of their days and at night all they are given is one thin sheet and one hospital type blanket. One tiny lady was very thin, but her feet were very swollen up and when my family member asked if she could get her a blanket from the warming oven she was told she is fine just leave her.

The next shift she just went and brought the woman the heated blanket... the look on her face was true thankfulness.It is so heart wrenching to think that bringing a warm blanket to one of God's frail children is too much of a job even when your getting paid well to do just that.

Money does not make people loving and caring.

On a different note... where do you find your sermons from Alistair Begg???


Anonymous said...

Every child I have I count as one more chance of me not ending up in a nursing home. :)


Hope S. said...

You said:
Let's not say we're doing it only for "food" and then leave off more than half of the other perks and/or benefits we're enjoying from the arrangement we choose.

I am saying... DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT ME EITHER! Medical is NOT a perk or benefit - it is absolutely necessary! I don't live in Gumdrop world like you apparently do, I have to have medical. Do you know how much it costs to do anything medical in America without insurance?

And when I said:
First of all, a guy can't preach this, I'm sorry... but guys don't know what it's like to be a woman, so they don't have a right to say what they think a woman should do.

I was saying that a guy can't say that a woman shouldn't have those feelings. A guy can't say a woman can't have the feelings she has and that she should stuff them in a box and do what he thinks God is telling her to do. I'm not saying all that junk you were saying I was saying. Yes, a girl can say that her son shouldn't steal - duh! I'm not an idiot and I wasn't saying that.

OK, you also said:
But let's be honest about it when we discuss it and not use hyperbole and shadow to conceal reality.

Sorry, I wasn't using hyperbole and shadow to conceal anything. I'm telling you what every American has to pay for to SURVIVE - I'm not talking about paying for a car for every kid and a mansion for myself - don't be a jerk. I live in the real world and not your special little gumdrop world where you husband has a good job and you don't even have to worry about medical. You have no idea what it's like.

Anonymous said...

First thought: I wish my parents were alive so I could take care of them in their old age.

Second thought: Not all stay-at-home parents are good, loving parents, and not all parents whose children are in day care are bad parents. When I think of my friends who have very bad relationships with their own parents, there doesn't seem to be any pattern related to whether their mothers worked outside the home.

Third thought: Kudos to Begg for recognizing that even we American citizens sometimes have a lot to learn from other cultures.

Laurie B

Jess said...

I listen to Begg (and all others that I catch occasionally) through iTunes podcasts. And I love it-- then I can set them up on playlists when I have a chunk of time to listen while cleaning, cooking, etc.

Jess said...

Calling my life names, calling me names, and saying I have no idea about things that I personally have lived is all flat out rude. Please avoid being that way in the future should you come around, although I personally wouldn't want to visit the blog of someone I think is a jerk who lives in un-reality gumdrop land.

Ashley L said...


I just wanted to thank you for being bold to talk so openly about these taboo but very Biblical and absolutely vital issues. We are all deeply impacted by our culture, and I am so appreciative of you and others like you who aren't afraid to pose controversial questions. How easy it is to believe that just because the majority of the world does something a certain way that it is right.

Anyway, I know you open yourself up to a lot of criticism by being bold enough to discuss such issues, but I appreciate you being willing to accept that fact in order to encourage people towards living Biblically rather than culturally. Thank you!

BT and Jessica said...

Thanks for the thought provoking posts this week.
Also it is nice to see you haven't lost any spunk in language learning... mine is kicking my tail and at the end of the day all I have energy for is... well nothing :)
I look forward to as many posts as you are able to manage and you're follow comments also.
Oh- and I since I live overseas also, I know you don't live in a gumdrop world... but rather a place that is very difficult!

Sa said...

I take care of my sick father even though he and my mother put me in child care very young. I love and respect them, and I know they made the best choice for us as a family. Had my father been a stay at home dad, my mother would have had to take a second job and would have never spent time with me, which is not desirable either. Why should only one parent enjoy their child, when the other one slaves to feed it?
Every family does its best. I wish the best for every one, and hope it never comes to taking care of very sick parents, since it's both heartbreaking and exhausting.

Anonymous said...

Guilt clearly doesn't motivate people very well. I totally belief that parenting is a pay me now or pay me later proposition.

At the same time I'm pretty sure that none of us can judge another from the outside, and this sort of sermon is more inflammatory than it is edifying --even though I agree with the Attachment related premise. Attacement, not blind obedience, is the model Christ gave to us.

By the way, I'm pretty sure those babies who are left to "cry it out" will have something to say about which nursing home their parents go to as well.

Jess said...

Madge, Madge, Madge...
If a pastor can't shepherd his own flock, who can he pastor? Sometimes hard things need to be said... and a pastor would/should know that better about his own people than some random bypasser.

And-- btw-- since you brought it up... you know, or I think you know, that I am not one who encourages the CIO mentality. So let's stop it there, shall we?

Jill said...

WoW! Thought provoking sermon AND discussion! Some husband and I are committed to caring for our parents but they have to be willing to be cared for. So far, even in their 80's they still are the strong independent people of their generation who don't need anyone! This is hard. Giving has to be accepted...

To those who believe that they have to work for insurance....there are many of us that have large families and have not been able to afford insurance. My husband is self-employed, I stay home with our eight children and we practice lots of preventative health care. Births and broken bones we pay off little bit by little bit. We like gumdrops but rarely have the time to live in a "gumdrop world" because we are busy and working hard. Our children are some of the healthiest(and happiest) our doctor has ever seen....but he rarely gets to see them! We all make choices. God can supply all that we "need" but not always what we think we need. I know the fact that I can read and write and have the time to spend on a computer makes me one of the wealthiest of the world. We had three ingredients in our dinner tonight. That also makes us wealthier than most! Let's keep our perspective on this one...we don't HAVE to have health insurance in America! And having health insurance does not mean that you are going to be healthier, it just means that a portion of your bills will be covered if you need to go to the doctor. I refuse to let my children be raised by someone else for that! And, yes, many of us also forgo having a car and owning a house ( another "right" that most Americans think they are entitled to!).

Anonymous said...

One thing that is missed (or maybe I missed it!) is that there are a lot ways to take care of your parents, even if you are working. Money isn't always what is needed. My dear MIL died recently at the young age of 60. Though my husband and I both work and live hundreds of miles away, we put in an effort to help her and my FIL. I am a health care researcher, so I spent time helping her with her health insurance and looking into new treatments. My husband spent as much time as he could with her. We talked to her frequently and read the Bible to her when her eyes failed. Her sisters surrounded her. My BIL and his wife were with her almost every day for the last 18 months of her life. We didn't do it because we had to, but because we loved her. She worked when my husband was growing up, but her work was never her life. She stayed home the first few years, worked in child care (with her boys with her) when they were young, and worked full-time when they were in high school. Seeing her life, I don't know that working matters as much as the focus of life; she loved her family and when her time came, they loved her and showed it as well as they could.

I hope this helps in the discussion.

B. Walters

Anonymous said...

I believe that Alistair is very, very right on in these comments.

As for me, both my parents have died and I feel regret that I didn't do enough for them. I had fantasies of doing more for them and I underperformed. Sometimes because of relationship difficulties with them, sometimes because of my own busyness and self-absorption.

My parents lived independently by choice and died unexpectedly before they needed "assisted living" or anything of that sort. But I think it's clear that honoring parents doesn't have to wait until they're in need of nursing ---- and should not wait until they're in need of nursing.

I tend to agree with Begg that our western culture does treat elderly people as disposable. Once they are no longer the "economic engine" that they used to be, they often become non-people... irrelevant, ignored and forgotten.

How many people are stuffed into nursing homes and forgotten; not even visited by their own families? Just left to die.

I also agree with Begg that the problem extends to our society. Our entire culture seems to need very, very significant change in this area. This means among other things that our culture probably does make it harder for individuals who want to follow what God shows us to do. There do seem to be some structural (i.e. cultural) "impediments" or negative consequences to obeying God in this area. Because our culture is awful in this area, it does mean that individuals probably have to pay a bit higher price when they choose to obey God.

We may also live oblivious to these matters a lot of the time because the problems are so deeply ingrained in our culture... it's only an occasional message from folks like Alistair that rings the bell to try to rouse us from the coma we've been in. (And then we feel angry and growl like a bear at the person who tried to bring us out of the coma.)

Probably few of us would really have it quite SO hard as Abednego did when he chose to give God his obedience. So what can we say as individuals?


Samantha said...

This is such a great topic to preach about in this day and age with the baby-boomer generation quickly approaching the later stages of life. I hope our pastor does a sermon on this as well.

Let me just say that while it's important to be open to caring for our elderly parents, it has to be something they desire. Nursing homes aren't these terrible facilities that they once were, and I know people who look forward to living in these communities one day. Some are able to receive medical care in a nursing home that they just couldn't receive living with a loved one, and others just wish to be around people their own age for the social aspect.

I'm not saying that nursing homes are the best option for everyone, but I don't think people should be made to feel guilty about making this decision if it is best for their loved one or if it's what their mom or dad requested. There are many ways to care for, to love, and to honor our parents, even while they aren't living under our roof.

On the flip side. I'm going into the medical field and from what I've been told, in the next twenty or thirty years, nursing homes may not be an option for many people. There will just be too many elderly people who need care and not enough space to accomodate them all. That's why the focus right now is on preventive care and teaching folks how to live independantly for as long as possible.

Many of us should plan on taking care of one or more of our elderly parents at some point in our lives.

Anonymous said...


My previous post was truncated--that's what I get for trying to do two things at once. Please give me a chance to articulate better.

I don't disagree with any of the things he is proposing here--that we neglect our elderly, and that day care sucks--but I do disagree with his methodology.

Don't forget, many women work because their husbands won't "let" them stay home. Others work out of fear because they saw their own dads desert their families. We all share this societal brokenness.

So for a "pastor" to blame working mothers for our collective neglect of our elderly, well it just seems like a cheap blow.

I'm sorry you took the CIO comment personally. That wasn't my intent, to drag up your support of the Ezzos. My intent was merely to suggest that a stay at home parent, through punitive parenting, rigid scheduling, lack of understanding of child development or other sorts of neglect, can just as easily create a child whose heart is hardened to the needs of the weak and vulnerable as can early separation from the primary parent. I'm dealing with this in my own family, with a elder whose intention was to be a true Titus 2 mother and wife but who was so punitive and rigid as a parent has created a situation where her children are still afraid of her as adults and thereby she is somewhat neglected to some degree.

Anonymous said...

I very much agree with the statement that parents must allow themselves to be cared for. My mother is mentally ill as the result of many years of alcohol abuse. The best I have been able to do is obtain charity help for her - she refuses any other forms of assistance from my husband and I. She is too high functioning for me to take over her affairs for her. I pray and ask and that's all I can do without running into refusal from her. She did take a shawl I knit her last Christmas as well. Also, I have no idea where or WHO my dad even is - how can I care for him besides prayer? I have yet to figure out an answer.
Thought provoking post...


Diana said...

I found this post thought provoking. And I don't see where he says that nursing homes are wrong. They're a tool, like anything else. Can you use them to shut an old person away so you don't have to deal with that person? Yes. Do you have to use them that way? No.

My paternal grandmother was in a nursing home in the teeny tiny town she lived in and that my father was raised in. She had lived there so long that people had babies and grandbabies named after her. There were very few in the home, and it was in the type of town where everyone knew everyone's business, so there would have been no relaxing the standards of care. It was better for her to be there, halfway across the country with people she knew and my dad (an only child) visiting her as often as he could.

My husband's grandmothers recently moved from out of state to retirement homes nearby. We have seen both of them blossom as they are not housebound and are able to participate in activities and have relationships with other people without having to find someone to drive them. My in-laws visit with and help each of them at least once a week, although usually more often. It is in many ways my MILs full-time job to take care of her mother and MIL, so I believe she is modeling what Begg is speaking about, although the grandmas don't live with my in-laws.

My maternal grandmother has just reached the point where she cannot live alone. She was already spending six months of the year living with one of my uncles. The other six months, she lived in her own home, 3 miles from my aunt. She will now be living with my aunt for those six months, with "vacations" with my mom. My other uncle is trying to add a shower to his main level so that she will be able to stay there as well.

Although taking care of can mean living with, I don't think it has to.

Anonymous said...

Very thought-provoking post and comments! I think it is an excellent point that caring for our parents must be something that they also wish for. And I cannot imagine that if your parent left you and you have no idea where he or she is, that it is your "responsibility" to hunt them down and care for them! Maybe I missed that part in the original post.

Now I'm probably sticking my head in here where I don’t belong, but I guess public blogs allow for that! At least, I hope so!

Hope, I can see that you may be feeling angry, which makes perfect sense to me if you are trying to do your very best and be a good person and a good Christian (assumption here), and then you feel attacked by people who don’t ”get” or respect your choices when in your life, you don’t feel you have a choice.

And if you are not fortunate enough to have completely healthy children, like Jill for example may (fortunately) be, but instead have to find a way to afford quality long-term care for a terminal or chronic disease (not my case, thank God, but it is the reality for others I know and perhaps you too), then something like medical care IS a necessity, in my mind. And working IS a necessity if your husband cannot. It’s not society’s job to take care of you. So kudos to you for doing what you can and what’s best for your family!

I believe faith only gets you so far. I think there is a story somewhere about someone who has an unshakable faith in God, but denies every opportunity God gives under the premise that he’s waiting for God to save him (who’s to say a job offer isn’t a blessing from God?).

Hope, I respect your opinion and your willingness to share it, even though it is obviously a sensitive issue. And Jess, I respect your strong views and thought-inducing posts and comments. However, I do think you need to work on your analogies! Your examples of a little boy and an alcoholic don’t really work since stealing and violence are kind of universal things to be against, and have nothing to do with being a little boy or an alcoholic. Jokes aside, I do agree that someone can have an opinion without ever “being there” – after all, it’s only an opinion! We are free to take it or leave it. The important thing (in my mind) is that we consider it. It opens our minds and makes us better people, if nothing else by making us more secure of our own path.

I think it all comes down to what’s in our own hearts. Jess won’t change Hope’s mind and vice versa, but I sincerely think it is a good thing to have these discussions! But then again, maybe that’s just because my view is somewhere in the middle. Or I live in gumdrop land.

Take care, ladies.

Jess said...

I actually wasn't trying to make any analogies-- just making the point that we can say things about things that we aren't personally living... that it's not out of bounds for Bible-based judgment calls to be made or convictions to be had by people who are not in a particular situation but believe strongly one way or another about it.

I wasn't trying to compare daycare with those other examples, just saying that people outside of those situations can and do have feelings about those things, and often those feelings can be strong. We need to quit using and hearing the "you have no right to an opinion about X because you haven't/aren't living it" line of reasoning. It's a lousy one. Biblically, we can and should derive convictions about life. Some we will live and be pounded, shaped, and molded in... others may not be issues we ourselves face in life. But to form convictions/beliefs (even about things we don't personally face) is not wrong... and to hold strong convictions (or even, as Begg is doing here, teach on them!) is not wrong.B

CappuccinoLife said...

We love pastor Begg.

I'm baffled at how some of the comments directly went to "mommy wars". I read his point as being--our younger generations are boxed up full-time in institutions from infancy on, so why would we be surprised at their boxing up their parents and grandparents in institutions when the time comes? He never said it's only a woman's job, either infant care or elder care. Women in the other cultures he mentioned (China and Africa) most certainly do work and most certainly don't live in "gumdrop world".
The point was that in the West our families are divided, individualistic, and self- and convenience driven, when the Biblical model is a cohesive, home-centered, self-sacrificing extended family.

Dh and i have pondered how we will do this. Our dream is to build our own large house with a "mother in law" apartment attached, so our parents can have privacy but also be cared for an part of the family. While we cannot right now physically care for his parents ourselves (being on different continents) we absolutely feel it is an obligation and a blessing to be able to send money and to keep in touch with the oldest brother and make sure that money is used for their care.

Robin said...

I agree with CappucchinoLife in terms of how this got to be "mommy wars" instead of a discussion about the actual sermon. The point isn't that daycare or nursing homes are evil, and those who use them are evil. It's the fact that we, as Christians, have a mandate to honor our parents. Putting them away when they are too hard to take care of isn't honoring anyone. However, it doesn't mean you shouldn't use a nursing home as a tool for care if you need it. I don't understand why people can't get out of defense mode and look to scripture for their guidance. American society isn't Christian in action. We tend to be very self-serving, and we've gone to great expense to make things convenient and unobtrusive. Where we need to look is the heart of our decisions.

I feel the pain of everyone who has expensive medical expenses. My husband and I have been paying for our own health insurance for years. It's terribly expensive. We forego a lot of things in order to have it. If we let it lapse, there's a possibility my husband wouldn't be eligible for new coverage. We do a lot of medical on the cheap. We don't have copays. We pay the whole bill when someone is sick, so we've found alternatives to the status quo. Often, we wait out and see if the illness goes away on its own. If not, I go to a cheap clinic. The pediatrician is the last resort. We don't have prescription coverage, so we pay hundreds a year for medications. When he had surgery in 2007, we owed the hospital thousands of dollars to cover our very large deductible. We didn't have it, so we had to make payments for a very long time.

Could I get a job that offers better coverage? Of course. After I left work to stay home with my new baby, I whined that my husband's employer didn't cover medical. It seemed so unfair. But, at that point, I got real about it and had to decide who was responsible for us. Was it us, the employer, or the government? When I came to the realization that WE are in charge of us, it was the most freeing moment in my life.

We live in a wonderful free country. While we may feel trapped in this crazy system, we are not really. You can live in a much smaller house. You can do things that aren't typical of the American middle class. If Mom doesn't work, there are so many ways you can cut back. Many women pay to work. Your work related expenses - the extra car (we have 1 car, live in the country, and I'm happily stuck at home with kids until hubby gets home), extra insurance, clothes, higher food expenses, etc, not to mention higher tax bracket, often add up to more than the woman's salary. Even if the woman is making more than the expenses, we found that I could actually bring home more money working retail on weekends than I was when I worked full-time.

We've been so brainwashed by our society, it's hard to look outside the box and see what's going on in the world. Most people in the world don't have world class health care. We have the benefit of living in a place with clean water and clean food sources. If you don't like what you buy from the store, most of us can grow a decent garden fairly cheaply. I'm not demonizing those with real chronic illness, scary medical issues, or a disabled husband, but let's be honest. Most people are relatively healthy. The trend I see in our government scares me. In order to cover a few people who have difficulty getting coverage, they want to spend BILLIIONS or TRILLIONS to overhaul a system that works fairly well. Seems like it would be far simpler to let most people get coverage on their own. You can get cheap coverage if you are willing to forego some of the perks like cheap copays and free office visits. If someone truly can't get coverage, maybe there can be some provision in Medicare or Medicaid that helps those people. As my husband earns more, we may be able to take on more coverage. For now, we just do the best we can do. By the way, do you know what your employer payd for your coverage? Do you pay a percentage? When I decided to leave work, more money was coming out of my paycheck than we now pay, because my employer, a small business, passed on the expense to his employees. If I'd stayed, it's very possible I would have forgone the coverage for something cheaper anyway.

It's a myth that families need 2 incomes to survive in the US. I'm not calling it a sin to have 2 incomes, but the truth is people can get along just fine on one. You just have to prioritize. If your husband doesn't like his job or income right now, he can be somewhere different within 5 years if he's willing to work hard.

Anonymous said...

Here I quote Begg:

Do you think that the children who tomorrow at the age of seven months are going to be taken to a day care center, not because their dad died in the war and their mommy has to go to work, but because their mommy wants to be a “real person” and doesn’t believe in parenting and in marriage and in motherhood. She wants to be a “real” person and so she’s gonna put her seven-month-old in the care of some yahoo who ought to be staying home looking after her kids probably. And the whole thing goes down the tubes from there.

He's the one who blames the working mother.

Anonymous said...

One does wonder how the working mothers--and those who provide child care (ie the "yahoos") felt about being "pastored" in this way.

E03 said...

i too have noticed that youth is the idol of our culture, and we laugh at older people who aren't "hip". as if our age determines our value before God. another weird thing is that our culture considers is strange if your friends arent really in your age group...i think there's much to be said for knowing how to interact with all age groups, because we have so much, so so much, to learn from those who've gone before us and we're neglecting a vital resource God has given us for growth.

CappuccinoLife said...

Madge, did you notice how he did *not* pick on women who must work or starve, but on women who feel that they must work because motherhood is unfulfilling and unworthy drudgery????

maria said...

Madge, CappuccinoLife, and everyone else,

What I noticed (primarily) was that Begg set the stage with 2 rather extreme examples -- a widowed mother and an totally self-absorbed woman who "doesn't believe" in parenting, marriage, or motherhood. This type of (blatant, I think) polarization does little to add to a wholesome, helpful discussion about issues that are, in rality, rarely as black & white as Begg would insinuate.

I, like many women, am somewhere in the middle of his examples. I work part-time as a pastor (unpaid, small congregation), I'm a doctoral student, and about 2/3 time mommy to a great 3 yr old daughter. My hope is that the myriad of blessings in my daughter's life -- her plentiful time with her father, her friends from 2-day-a-week preschool, and her fabulous, occasional babysitter -- will only be an enrichment to her. Hmmm...

And, as a pastor myself, I'd ask Begg to spend a few minutes reading from James 3 on taming the tongue. As one of my seminary professors said, "If Christ is going to offend, let him offend. Just make sure it isn't you doing the offending, then hiding behind Christ as you do it."

Anonymous said...

I didn't see him really making any distinctions among working mothers. Widows get a break, but otherwise everyone is working out of some need for self actualization in the paradigm he describes.

Don't get me wrong--I've made sacrifices to stay home with my kids, and I'm glad I did so. As I've reread this exerpt it seems like an incredibly flip, broadly painted derision of all married women with children who work.

Anonymous said...

I'm an American married to an Aussie living in Australia. I tune in to Alistair online. I so enjoy this.

Catherine R. said...

Oh Gosh, this is sort of heavy to think about. If my husband and I take care of our parents it's going to be an exercise in "doing something you don't feel like doing"...but such is much of the Christian life.

Reality is often so much different than what is ideal. There's divorce, strained relationships, crazy non-believing parents etc. It would be nice if my parents were like the Huxtables or something and my husband and I were financially healthy.

I do appreciate how Begg acknowledges that the whole thing really has gone "down the tubes."

I hope my child and whatever future children I have will take care of is a good reason to have lots of kids ; )

I do appreciate that my parents gave me life and cared for me as a helpless infant/ child...and I hope to bless my children the same way without putting them through ugly divorces and selfishness later in their young life. I want to make it easy for them to like me. My parents, God bless 'em, have not made it all that easy.

Good points to ponder for sure.

*~Tamara~* said...

Oh my goodness. I can't begin to say how much I agree with him. It makes my heart hurt just to think about how shoved-aside the elderly of American society are. I've worked with them and cared for them, and so I know.

I used to watch as people would occasionally come in after church to visit their parent in the nursing home. They had grown so far apart, the silences were so awkward. It broke my heart and still does.

Michelle said...

I'm not disregarding the serious discussion going on here, but don't think I have anything new to add, except perhaps this point of levity. My husband often says our kids are his "retirement plan"
;-) (We're expecting #3 in a few weeks, and, God-willing, may have more in the future.)

Mrs Mills said...

Hi, just wanted to say that I work in long-term care as a Registered Practical Nurse (ON Canada).

I work for the local county home, just got home from an eve shift actually. Our facility is a not for profit/governement run and it is wonderful. If I had to place my parent's there I would not hesitate; however, I plan to care for them for as long as I can in their own home for as long as they are congnitively intact and not a danger to self/others.

I agree with the concept that children who are placed in day care would be more likely to put their parents into adult long term care. I recently took a paliative care course and said basicly the same thing to the other participants, mostly middle aged women who put their kids into daycare so they could pursue their 'careers". You should have seen the looks of shock/horror when I sugested that their children would put them in a home, it was priceless.

As a child, I had the blessing of being cared for by my grandmother as my mother had to work. Later I had the double blessing of getting to care for Gram at the end of her life. Nothing is better than the love and care of your family.

darci said...

I just want to visit Gumdrop sounds like such a happy place.

Rachel said...

Taking care of one's parents is getting harder to do without "outside help". First, people are putting off starting a family until they are older, so as they approach the "need help" phase of life, their children still have small children at home, or have yet to establish themselves financially. Couple this with the shrinking family size, now instead of 5 or more kids sharing the responsibility of their aging parents, it's one or two and they often live hundreds of miles away. This makes it very difficult to care for a parent.

Poor life choices also is a huge problem. Years ago, dementia was not a big problem, people ate healthy and exercised - so they tended to stay healthy and active well into old age, helping to raise thier grand children and great grandchildren.

Now people are very unhealthy (as a trend - not everybody) and tend to eat poorly, watch TV, and gain weight. By 60, they are having trouble walking and breathing and wanting quick fix drugs which can mean dozens of perscriptions. Poor eating and lack of exercise will accelerate memory problems - and there is nothing fun or easy about dealing with a parent with altimers. We have several friends and family who have had to use nursing homes - they carefully research and find the best one - and visit daily and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. They are very hands on when it comes to their parents care.

These are decisions we are making for my grandparents right now - and I remember making for my great grandparents while I was a very young teen. We were at the nursing home at least weekly, and helped with nearly every event they did for groups - like singing and BINGO and crafts. But I remember dozens of residents that didn't even get cards for their birthday or Christmas - we took many of these in and I think we all benefited.

I am now 40 years old, and expecting our 4th child. We've struggled with many miscarriages over the years and difficulty getting pregnant. My children are 14, 11, 3, and I'm 12 weeks along and doing fine so far. But it does concern me that I'll be in my 60's before we have an empty nest. I'm a very hands on mom - we give up a lot to let me stay home and homeschool the kids. But what we lack in material things - we more than make up for in love and caring. Both my daughters argue of who gets mom when they grow up. (It's funny - and makes my heart glow with pride.) It's also sad too - that they do not have the same fierce loyalty to their dad - who provides for us - but is rather distant otherwise, prefering instead to play computer games and golf and picks the shortest bedtime story to read. They love him - but it's not the same - and I find that sad.

Crystal said...

Powerful stuff, Jess. I'm going to look for Begg on iTunes. I'd like to hear more from him. I'm going to link this post.

David Zook said...

Several points:

I wish Alister would have nuanced his comments a bit because I think he made too many sweeping generalizations.

1) I am a pastor and my wife works because it is her life's calling. She takes care of kids with cancer and trust me, if your child had cancer you would want someone like my wife to care of you little one. I firmly believe that as much as God has called me to my vocation, he has called her to her vocation. So that puts us at odds with the mommy should stay home crowd in church.

2) We have two kids two well adjusted kids who have been been in day care 2, 3, 4, or 5 days a week since they were tiny. Both of us juggled our schedules in order to minimize the amount of time they stayed with someone else early on. We first started in homes of moms who stayed home, then as they got older moved them into a more structured environment with more kids.

3) Depending on the health condition of your parents or you, it may not be wise to attempt to take care of them by yourself in the comfort of your home or theirs. If you are incapable of caring for them because of your condition or theirs, it seems to me that the most compassionate thing to do is to find them the care that they need elsewhere.