The Church in the Home – Family Religion (1910) C. R. Havighurst

The family is the fundamental unit of all social organization. The status of the family determines the status of the whole social system. Hence the problem of the family is the most important of all problems, the one supreme strategic point in civilization and religion.

One of the most perilous tendencies of modem civilization is the neglect of the home. In many places it seems but little more than a “compound contrivance of dormitory and eating-house,” “a convenient halfway house where one comes to rest a little between two prolonged absences.” Christian men and women, ought we not to awake to live again the home life, to cultivate anew the home feeling, to resuscitate the home joys, which have been almost smothered to death by the complexity of modern civilization and the insanity of a false pleasure’?

There ought to be a church in every house. Every home should be a sanctuary of the Most High, a shrine of worship and altar of prayer. Every parent should be a prophet teaching the children the truth of God; a priest interceding with God in their behalf; a king ruling them, in God’s stead, with divine authority.

The alarming symptom of our religious life is that many of our homes are anything but sanctuaries of worship. They are boarding-houses, schoolrooms, pleasure halls, gaming-rooms – anything but churches! But when we remember what a true home ought to be – the Divine affections that ought to reign there, the sturdy virtues that ought to grow there, the noble aspirations that ought to be kindled there, the holy resolves that ought to be breathed there; when we remember that in its holy courts we see the first rosy smile that blossoms upon the lips of infancy and hear the last sad sigh that lingers upon the face of our dead – surely the home ought to be the sanctuary of the Infinite God!

But what hindrances there to the establishment of this sacred shrine! – the rush of business, the pressure of work, the intricacies of our social life. The father is off to business in the morning before the children are up. The children are to bed in the evening before the father or mother returns. But I insist that where there is a will there is away. Once a day at least in every Christian household there ought to be the gathering of the family for united prayer .

The child brought up in a true Christian home has an inheritance far more to be desired than the mere trophies of commercial supremacy. There is the sanctified mother’s love, pure and fadeless as the unfading stars. There is the example of a faithful father, the child’s first sign and symbol of God. Principles of sturdy honesty, reverence, virtue, and piety, like bands of pure gold, bind children and parents together. Then there is that indefinable something that woven into the very warp and woof of the child life. And not the least of this rich inheritance is the memory of the hour of prayer, when father took the Bible – old, dear, timeworn book – read from its sacred pages, and then, while all heads were bowed, this priest of the family would commend his loved ones to the blessing of Almighty God.

What a priceless legacy is this !

Scripture: Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Ephesians 6:1-4; Philemon 2.

Image: Diana Parkhouse

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