Think what a difference a family can make. Elizabeth Dodds wrote “Marriage to a Difficult Man” – a book about Jonathan Edwards and his wife Sarah. We all know of Edwards as the hero of the Great Awakening, but he was soon ejected from his position as pastor in the church where revival broke out.
Edwards confronted some teenagers making smutty jokes over a book they had got hold of – a handbook for midwives which became the occasion for obscene talk. Prominent church families resented the fact that their sons were implicated by Edwards’ intervention. He became yesterday’s man. But while his sphere of public ministry was radically cut short, his influence continued to a remarkable degree. His legacy in his writings is well known, but that is only part of the story.
In her book, Dodds records how Edwards’ descendants were tracked down over the following 150 years. Their marriage produced through subsequent generations: 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians, 3 US senators, 3 mayors of large cities, 3 state governors, a Vice President of the USA, and a controller of the US Treasury. Family members wrote 135 books, edited 18 journals, entered the ministry in platoons, and sent 100 missionaries overseas. They directed large banks; they owned coal mines, iron plants, oil interests, silver mines – virtually all the great America industries bear the stamp of their influence. This is the Creation Mandate at work.
God could have decided that the best context for bringing children into the world would be in a nanny state, and he could have concluded that the best people to raise those children were social workers and teachers. But he settled on families and parents. And having made that decision, he was so pleased with the wisdom of it (“This is very good!”) he told parents to have as many children as they liked! And he decided that this would play a vital role in his strategy for expanding and extending his government on the earth. No wonder the family is under such attack!