Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Praise of Multi-Generational Homes P1

Part 1: The Problem

It was common in my college setting to boldly decry any college student (but especially males) who ended up living with their parents post-college. Particularly vocal and opinionated professors would cry, “Fowl!” and mourn the loss of manhood in our society. Reasonably, the students would follow suit. A real man, a biblical man, is one who leaves home never to return! Perhaps that’s embellished, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it come out of some mouths. But is it true? Is the Christian male’s rite of passage to leave the home and be married? Or can you still live at home and be a faithful, sanctifying man—after university? I acknowledge that these professors are battling a culture of “adult-o-lescence” and perpetual boyhood (and even culture has recognized this); I understand that laziness and comfort has become default; but at the same time, if we continually react with over-correction  when will the pendulum settle with proper peace (that is to say with Shalom—rightly viewing and inhabiting the world in fullness)?

I recently talked with a friend who is an hospice nurse. She routinely visits homes in Southern California. She explained that many of the homes she visits are multi-generational: usually housing three generations—grandma, mom & dad, and son & wife. It only takes 9 months for that house to become a 4-generation dwelling! My friend said that years ago the multi-generational home was an anomaly. But no longer. Part of it iseconomic: another friend said that when he was a young man, gas was 25¢/gallon with a $1/hour minimum wage paycheck. That’s ¼ of a paycheck. But nowadays with gas forever tempting $4/gallon and minimum wage at $8/hour, HALF of the proletariat’s paycheck goes to making our vehicle run (even with the increase in mpg). Employers posting entry-level positions requiring 3-5 years’ experience doesn’t exactly help the just-graduated, school-indebted, optimistic young man or woman make it on their own. It makes sense, then, for a 22-year old to move back in with their parents. They don’t have rent (or leastwise expensive rent) to pay. They can focus their energy on finding a job—anyjob!—that will allow them to begin repaying loans, buying an engagement ring, and locating a feasible home. How soul-crushing for that one that wants to go overseas or be involved in vocational ministry. Especially when the Christian community is saying that you’ve failed to make it as a man. Is that beneficial, really?

But this isn’t an exercise in sympathy and pity. It’s a call to consider: what is the biblical picture of a faithful Christian? I propose that a Christian perspective actually praises and encourages multi-generational homes if possible.

See Part 2 tomorrow.

Part 3: A Perspective
Part 4: Contemporary Application and Fallout