The subject of Chapter 13 is integration, and though it is a vital subject, I wondered at first how Edith thought it fit in with the overall concept of creative homemaking.
She begins by quoting Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” At that time, the barriers of differing language and class will have been removed, there will be no more war, hostility, anger, or sin. Everyone who has been born again by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior will be perfectly integrated into one family, so it behooves us to start living that way now.
She quotes as well Mark 10:13-14: “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” “The disciples were displaying an attitude which regards adults as more important, while children needed to be brushed aside. Jesus was quite definite not only that children could come to Him but that the disciples had it all backwards. The adults needed to come as the children come. It is the trust of a child for its father that is needed, the whole-hearted belief” (p. 198). She points out that at that time when we stand before God’s throne, every age will be represented as well.
“What has all this to do with creative living, as a Christian?” (p. 199). She posits that laws do not solve the problem. They may open doorways, a good beginning, but they cannot make a people truly integrated in heart.
“True integration is a matter of people really feeling a oneness with others and attempting to understand them in personal communication of the sort that takes place around the fireplace, washing dishes together, having tea together, eating together, walking together, discovering things in common together. True integration is a matter of people having spiritual communication and fellowship together, discussing and discovering new thoughts and ideas by sharing trends of thought, or thinking out loud and having some kind of creative activities or recreation together – by choice, not law” (p. 200).
Integration of age, too, can best be accomplished at home. I grew up in the “children should be seen and not heard” era, and while children do need to learn not to interrupt and that the conversation should not center around them all the time, they should also be included in the conversations. “Family occasions can be planned to include each member of the family: meals together during which the viewpoints and interests of the children are given a place and during which the world events discussed are not discussed as if the subject matter were high above their heads, with the adults being careful to explain, even to the five year old, what is being talked about. Opinions and reactions should be encouraged” among all the different ages and sexes present (p. 201).
I’m not of the opinion that children should never do things with others their own age, but I think all too often in our communities and churches we are separated by age and life situation too much. At one church we were in, there were programs for children through the sixth grade at each and every service, so that, if a family participated in all of them, their children would never be in “big church” with the adults until they were in junior high. We have no objection to Sunday School and children’s church – it is helpful at times for children to receive instruction on their level in a way that can handle their wiggliness – but we thought having them “out” at every service was overdoing it, and voiced that to the pastor. He said he understood, but he had parents begging him for these programs (it wasn’t the other adults wishing the church would do something with “those kids” – it was the parents.) That was so sad to me. When our boys were small, the nursery only went up to age 2, so at a very young age they started coming into the worship services. The parents with younger kids tended to sit in a section off to the back so as not to be a distraction, and we brought small notepads and pencils and such for the kids to “doodle” while the service was going on (it’s too much to expect a two year old to sit completely still for an hour and a half and listen, but on the other hand, they can learn to be relatively still and quiet with something to occupy their attention). Ours did fine with that. They loved to wave their arms while the songleader led singing, they played “preacher” at home (my husband even build a kid-sized pulpit for them to play church at home). Once when my oldest was drawing on his notepad, the pastor was preaching and asked a rhetorical question, and my son answered it out loud. That caused a few giggles in the area, but I was gratified that he was listening and taking things in even at a young age.
And though we’ve been blessed with good youth pastors and my kids have benefited from youth group, that can be overdone as well. I’d like to see more projects where the teens interact with other members of the congregation.
In the first church we attended when we were married, the adult Sunday Schools were divided by topic, and though people might tend to stay with the same group through different topics and teachers, people were free to go to whichever one they wanted. We had a wonderful mix of single adults, young married couples, middle aged, and older adults, which added a lot of depth to discussions. In most of the churches we have been in since, the adults are divided by age, and the “singles” are sent to their own class. In one church, a young married woman came to the ladies’ group meeting, saw that all the women there were older than she was, and she never came back. That really pierced my heart, especially as ladies’ groups I had been in before had had a great mix of ages and experience.
We tend to seek out people just like ourselves to extend friendship. That’s natural and there is not anything necessarily wrong with that, but we shouldn’t stop there: we should reach out to and interact with people of varying nationalities, skin colors, ages, life situations, etc. If we have a group of friends who are all young married couples, and one couple has a baby, they shouldn’t feel they don’t “belong” any more, the others shouldn’t feel they can no longer relate. Yes, there are changes that will come in, but that’s not a bad thing. That’s life. We shouldn’t regard the “singles” (I wish we could come up with a different name) as incomplete and not able to join in with the rest of the adults until they have a mate. Yes, there is some advantage in breaking off into different groups in like stages of life – the young adults having a camp-out, the teens going on a mission trip or having a fellowship, young moms getting together to encourage each other, etc. But we shouldn’t be totally segregated from anyone different from ourselves. We have much to learn from each other. I’ve often said that the older women teaching the younger as instructed in Titus 2 was probably not originally in classes and seminars (though there is nothing wrong with those occasionally), but rather they probably occurred in everyday life as the women did chores together, had each other over for meals, etc.
Here are a few other quotes from this chapter that stood out to me:
When you really get to know people, their hopes and fears, aspirations and disappointments, viewpoints and misunderstandings, there is a sympathy and a desire to help, a true compassion and love which begins to grow (p. 202).
The tight little segregated life, always spent with people your own age, economic group, educational background, and culture tends to bring an ingrown, static sort of condition. Fresh ideas, reality of communication and shared experiences will be sparks to light up fires of creativity, especially if the people spending time together are a true cross-section of ages, nationalities, kindred, and tongues (p. 202).
You do not have to be a delegate to an international gathering on a large scale to do something. The most real ‘something’ you can do is within the family unit, as you open it up to others, to a cross-section of ages and peoples, or the gathering together of community life on a small scale (p. 203).
There is no real possibility of an integration that is true and meaningful in the total sense unless it is based on the inner integration which God made possible through the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. He died so that man might move out of his ‘segregated’ position, segregated from God, from other men, and even from himself in so many aspects, into true integration. This true integration comes only when man is integrated with the Trinity. Jesus becomes one’s Saviour, as one accepts that which He has done for man on the Cross. His death is not for ‘mankind’ as an impersonal whole, but for each individual who accepts Him. God the Father becomes one’s own Father at that time, and the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, indwells one, so that one is truly integrated with the whole Trinity. When this has happened, a man can be helped by the Trinity to find at least the beginning of a true integration with other people. We can have help in understanding others, loving them and communicating with them (p. 204).
I don’t know how the Christian community missed this for so long. All those parables Jesus told involving Samaritans, the times He went out of His way to minister to Samaritans, should have been a wake-up call when we realize the Samaritans and Jews were enemies, due at least partly, if not primarily, because of race. The racism that has run rampant, not just through the American South, but through the world, is a blight and should have no place in those who belong to Christ:
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision [the Jews], which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22, ESV).