Christianity could learn a thing or two from watching the Star Trek Voyager Episode ‘Real Life’. They could learn that they spend too much time making a promise they can’t deliver: our teachings promise a perfect family. They could learn that that they have created an unrealistic scenario that plays out very much like a 1950s sitcom of what family ought to be like but is impossible to maintain here and now. They could learn that human nature has a way of asserting itself most of all in response to attempts at being controlled.
In the last decade or so, there have been quite a few Christian movies out there that seem to suggest that if you sign the Courageous Pledge or do the Love Dare then your problems will fix themselves and your family’s rough edges will be ironed out and blessed by your obedience. The problem is that they forget to account for real life. The Bible doesn’t promise believers that they’re going to have immaculate homes, kids with impeccable manners, brand new cars that never break down, or even marriages that sail through storms as if they weren’t even a serious obstacle.
But there are Christians who have been dealt serious blows by real life – and what do many of them do? They latch onto these movies – that if you sign this, read that, or pray over there then everything will be good as new or better than ever. When it doesn’t work, they blame themselves for not doing it right, not doing it quickly enough, or not doing it in time enough to have gotten the results they were expecting. Some of that is the result of spending far too much time with the wrong book or movie. I know, movies are quicker, but not just any old book is a good one to try to use to fix whatever went wrong.
The more familiar one gets with the truth of the Bible, the easier it is to see that Christians are making a killing by not reading the Bible. They read about the Bible, they read books with advice is that somewhat from the Bible, but considering how much money is made off of the companion study materials for each brand new movie – these shorter reads seem to have us far more captivated than the Word itself. Which is why it’s so easy to fool so many to believing in the wrong thing.
There are a lot of things that the Bible doesn’t promise but other people out there say it does – following certain teachings isn’t a recipe for a perfect family – it never worked that way and I sincerely doubt it’ll suddenly work that way now. There is something the Bible does promise, that you’ll find a spiritual family among your brothers and sisters in Christ; admittedly, Christians haven’t gotten any better at that either, but that’s become somebody somewhere told them that families have to come to Christ. That’s not so, individuals must come. Sometimes all the individuals members of a family comes to Christ and that’s worthy of celebration, but that’s a rarity these days. None of the other individuals who represent a partial family should be marginalized for their faithfulness. They should be celebrated as our brothers and sisters just the same as the ones who represent individual members of a whole family. Only then when we figure out how to have a ‘Real Life’ family in Christianity will we be a stronger community of believers for it.
[after Belle has been fatally injured in an accident, the Doctor has shut down his family program]
Lieutenant Tom Paris: I guess all of us would avoid that kind of pain if we could. But most people don’t have that choice.
The Doctor: Well, fortunately I do.
Lieutenant Tom Paris: Is it so fortunate? You created that program so you could experience what it’s like to have a family. The good times and the bad. You can’t have one without the other.
The Doctor: I fail to see why not.
Lieutenant Tom Paris: Think about what’s happened to us here on Voyager. Everyone left people behind, and everyone suffered a loss. But… look how it’s brought us all closer together. We found support here, and friendship, and we’ve become a family, in part because of the pain we shared. If you turn your back on this program, you’ll always be stuck at this point. You’ll never have the chance to say goodbye to your daughter. Or to be there for your wife and son when they need you. And you’ll be cheating yourself of the chance to have their love and support. In the long run, you’ll miss the whole point of what it means to have a family.