Can pagans be good family people? I'm a young Pagan/Wiccan woman and I appreciate many of the articles, Q&As, and other features posted on Focus on the Family's website. But I wonder what you, as Christians, think of a person like me. Would you agree that a strong, healthy religious belief system of any kind is an advantage in family life? Do you share my view that a home with any type of sane and spiritually enlightened philosophy is better off than one with no religion at all? Or do you look down on me for not following Christianity?
This is a delicate and complicated question. Before attempting to answer, we'd like to express sincere appreciation for the gracious tone in which you've posed it. We've heard from Wiccans before, but not many (if any) of them have ever said that they loved the articles on our website. Understandably, most of them have had other, less complimentary reasons for getting in touch. Your kindness and openness – simple courtesies that sometimes seem to be going the way of the dinosaur in contemporary society – are a welcome breath of fresh air.
Our attitude towards paganism is similar to that of the great Catholic/Christian writer G. K. Chesterton. In his book The Everlasting Man Chesterton includes a chapter entitled "The War of the Gods and Demons." Here he says that, from the Christian perspective, there are basically two kinds of paganism: one that inclines towards darkness, and another that might reasonably be understood as a genuine and deeply human groping after the light and truth of the living God (see Acts 17:27). The paganism of the early Romans, he argues, was of the latter variety. It was a more or less "wholesome" faith that valued hearth, home, and family, and thus laid the foundations of an enduring civilization. In contrast, the religion of the Romans' arch-enemies – the Phoenicians of Carthage – was cruel and destructive of human life, focusing, as it did, upon child sacrifices to the bloodthirsty god Molech.
If Chesterton was right about this – and we think he was – we're forced to conclude that there are some forms of non-Christian spirituality that are more positive and beneficial than others. It follows that families who adhere to such belief systems are, in a practical sense, much better off than those who dabble in darkness or who have no faith at all. This is why we take the view that, from a purely pragmatic perspective, it isn't necessary for friends of our ministry to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in order to benefit from the marriage and family advice we have to offer. That advice is based upon timeless biblical principles which were established in the beginning by the Designer and Creator of the human race. For that very reason, they are relevant and applicable to people of every description, believers and non-believers alike.
That said, it's crucial to add that if we look at your inquiry in terms of the "bigger picture" – that is, with an eye to spiritual realities and deep questions about the ultimate meaning of life – we have no choice except to qualify our response. From the biblical point of view, nothing really matters a great deal if you don't have Jesus. At its heart, Christianity isn't about the temporal benefits of a positive moral and spiritual outlook. It's far more radical and far-reaching in its intentions. It's a question of all-out allegiance to a man who claimed to be God and who is reputed to have made good on His claim by rising from the dead. Without that piece of the puzzle, everything else falls to the ground: As the apostle Paul expressed it, "If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile … If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (I Corinthians 15:16-19). This explains why our mission here at Focus on the Family is not simply "to help families," but rather "to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide" (from our official Mission Statement).
If you have any interest in discussing these ideas at greater length, we'd like to invite you to give us a call. Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.
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The Everlasting Man