Friday, February 11, 2011

Does it really take a Village?

Does it really take a Village?
 M. Russell Thomas, PhD
Taken from a full length article posted 2/14/11 to
            We have often heard the phrase that “it takes a village to raise a child”.  It is an old African proverb that suggests that children are raised best by a village of people who will help that child reach its full potential in life.  I would like to take a moment to address this philosophy and with all due respect, vehemently disagree with basic tenets which underpin it.  It is a philosophy designed by the father of lies and, while dressed up in sheep’s clothing, directly opposes the foundational truths of family.
            Before I present my case, let me go into just a little history of the adage.  It takes a village to raise a child allegedly has its origins in African culture.  It originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb Ora na azu nwa which means it takes the community/village to raise a child. It is interesting that The Igbo's also name their children Nwa ora which means child of the community Other African cultures have promulgated their own version of the proverb.   For example, in Lunyoro (Banyoro) there is a proverb that says Omwana takulila nju emoi, which means literally A child does not grow up only in a single home In another African language (Bahaya) there is a saying, Omwana taba womoi, which translates as A child belongs not to one parent or home. In Kijita (Wajita) there is a proverb which says Omwana ni wa bhone, meaning regardless of a child's biological parent(s) its upbringing belongs to the community Finally, SwahiliAsiyefunzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu translates similarly to that of Kijita.
            More recent history on the proverb it takes a village to raise a child indicates that then, first lady, Hillary Clinton picked up the phrase and idea to write her 1996 book, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.  Ms. Clinton spun her political views regarding community, family and social structure based on this popular phrase.  While I have not personally read the book, reviews of the book suggest that Ms. Clinton’s politics and the worldview that shape her politics, were (and presumably still are) similar to that of the African tribes.  It is also noted that Ms. Clinton’s book became something of a political lightening rod, as several conservative politicians countered her ideas.  For example, in the 1996 presidential campaign, Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole is quoted as saying,"... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."  Nine years later, conservative Senator Rick Santorum wrote a rebuke to the book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.  Both politicians apparently understood the fallacy in Ms. Clinton’s philosophy and political ideology.
            Now I’m not here to talk politics.  But since adopting our four children, Karen and I have been presented with this same it takes a villagementality multiple times.  However, its not in campaign headquarters, but rather coming from good, God-fearing brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.  We have cringed every time we heard these words.  And before I go any further, let me say this is not to cast a judgmental stone at anyone.  To my shame, I too, have used the phrase and perhaps at some point have given place to some of its ideas in my own life.  But having had a sharp rebuke from God’s Spirit, I feel it important to bring this philosophy to Light as we hold its major ideological principles to the standard of God’s word.  But to all our shame who are in the Body of Christ, promulgating this ideology is promoting Satan's agenda, which is to destroy family and vomit his plethora of lies out on our family and society.  I'll tell you why Karen & I feel so strongly about this issue.
            What are the major principles of the It takes a village philosophy?  There are two messages immediately inherent in this philosophy that are designed to undermine parents and the family structure that our Creator has orchestrated to raise healthy, functional, and creative participants in this world.  The first message inherent in the it takes a village philosophy is that parents are somehow inadequate, in and of themselves, to raise a child.  The idea is that as a parent, you will need more than you and your family to produce a healthy, thriving adult.  So everyone is ready to jump in and give your child what he or she needs to mature.  Huh!?  Now please show in the scripture where God ever said to parents, “I’m going to bless you with this child and you, your neighbor, the garbage man, the banker, and the mailman are going to raise it!”  No, God said Children are heritage of the Lord like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of the youth (Ps 127:3).  Again, in Proverbs 22:1 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old , he will not depart from it.  The operative word there is “train”.  This is an active, dynamic verb that indicates parental effort and involvement with that child.  Not farming out that responsibility to every community entity that so eagerly await receiving a child into their particular philosophy and worldview.
            The second message of the it takes a village philosophy is that you and I as parents, should relinquish our parental responsibility and authority to others.  Or at best, that we should share that responsibility with others.  Again, let’s bring this idea into the light of scripture and see how it holds up.  Is there anywhere in scripture that says a parent should share their parental responsibilities and authority with others in the community?  Absolutely not! There were times when parents made a decision that it was perhaps in the child’s best interest to be raised by someone else (Moses comes to mind), but again, when the angel appeared to Mary and Joseph did he outlined a plan whereby they would share raising Jesus with others?  No, they understood that they had been selected to raise the most influential man of all history.  The angel gave them of vision of this child and who he was to become and it was their sole responsibility to move him toward that destiny.  Nowhere did the angel suggest this was going to be a village effort!  But rather, biblical culture understood that the foundations of family where parents involved in the training and socialization of their kids.  Paul said in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 for father’s not to provoke their children to wrath.  I submit to you that fathers whose children are being raised by the village need no such instruction!  This instruction was to fathers who embraced the responsibility of parenting and who bear the wait of raising healthy children.
            I’m going to stop right now and point you to read the rest of this article in its entirety next week.  It will be posted on our by Valentine’s Day.  I will simply conclude by expressing my concerns about how this philosophy is creeping into the Body of Christ.  It is a subtle sabotage and undermining of the Biblical foundations for family and raising healthy children into thriving adults.  But until we talk again, we thank you for reading and following our blog.