Last week I reviewed a book called Surprised by Joy, written by C. S. Lewis. In this memoir of his conversion, Lewis mentions the admiration he has for G. K. Chesterton, an author roughly contemporary to him. I’d heard other reputable sources recommend Chesterton, so I decided to take a look back at the American Chesterton Society’s Web site (I had visited once before) to revisit their recommended Chesterton reading.
While I was on the Web site, I snooped around and learned a bit more about Chesterton, and I came across this remarkable quote, written as part of a summary of Chesterton’s view of the family:
Chesterton’s entirely original approach to the question of the family was based on the seemingly paradoxical notion that the great thing about family life is that it requires us to give up control over our lives, which is to say give up our freedom. Yes, Chesterton says that too much freedom (too much control) is boring.
That’s worthy of a little meditation.
Fathers and husbands can easily slip into the mode of viewing their family obligations as impositions on their happiness. Chesterton would argue that, say, a man’s inability to play golf every Saturday because of his family relationships should be a cause for gratitude, not for sorrow or bitterness.
Is Chesterton right? I must confess that this sentiment sounds awfully consistent with certain Bible themes. A couple of verses illustrate the point:
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).
It is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35; both quotes from ESV).
Perhaps, then, our desire should not be to cast off the restraints of family, but to embrace and celebrate them. How old-fashioned!