One of the things I discuss frequently is the topic of Sphere Sovereignty. God has ordained various spheres of authority in society, and given duties, responsibilities and authority to each. These spheres, ordained by God, are forms of governance on the earth, to provide for the needs of people and to maintain cultural stability.
Several of these spheres are: The individual, the family, the church, the corporation and the civil magistrate. Each one has its own domain, and should not endeavor to do the work of the other spheres. It is when we cross these important lines and neglect the faithful attendance to duty in one sphere, expecting a different sphere to cover for us, or when a sphere is encroached by force, that deterioration of the proper moral framework and order ensues.
As Cornelius Van Til said, “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.”
Increasingly, many people, especially in the West, are becoming lazy and expecting the civil magistrate to handle the duties of every sphere. This leads ultimately to poverty and tyranny. One such sphere that has been abdicated to the civil government is health care, including the care of the aged. Charity (including healthcare, education, welfare, housing, etc.), Biblically speaking, is never the mandate of the civil magistrate. They are to bear the sword, to punish evildoers and protect the citizens (see: Romans 12 and 1 Peter 2).
Instead, the role of caring for the aged, in Christian theology is placed first with the individual and the family.
“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.” (1 Timothy 5:4)
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
1 Timothy 5 explains that the church will take up responsibility for “widows indeed” (women who meet very narrow and specific criteria), but except for those rare exceptions, the individual and the family are commanded to fulfill this duty.
How Do We Care for the Aged and Dying?
We are so far from the original order of things, that it feels like we are moving to another planet when we endeavor to take on responsibility for our lives that nearly everyone assumed just a few short generations ago.
While I am not currently caring for an elderly parent in my home (thankfully my maternal grandparents are still alive but are both able to live together in their own residence!), I found a great book on this topic that I think will be helpful for anyone who is either in this process, or believes they will be in the future (that’s most of us).
Life Lessons from My “Papa”: A Daughter’s Journey Caring for Her Elderly Father, by Elizabeth Hugo, is a personal look into the life of a primary caregiver. She tells the blessings and challenges she faced while caring for her 92-yr-old father who was blind, diabetic and suffered from dementia.
Elizabeth writes this book through the lenses of her Christian faith, and offers rare insights into a topic that unfortunately, is too often ignored within our Christian circles.
One of the benefits of the book is that the author doesn’t give platitudes from a distance, but instead wrote her book while she was walking through the process of caring for her Papa. Because she chronicled her journey, as it was occurring, she was able to offer fresh and raw insights into this topic that may have been otherwise forgotten, or polished by the process of time.
Additionally, her book includes insights and lessons learned by other family members (Elizabeth’s husband, adult children and teenagers). Some chapters include:
- It’s Okay to Ask for Help
- Don’t Worry about Tomorrow
- Learning to Trust
- He is our Healer
- Rest and Respite
- Living in the Moment
- Caring for Yourself
- Solitary Confinement
- …and much more!
There is much to be learned and gained from those who have been through a process where we are headed, and this book is a great part of a conversation that needs to be had within our Christian community. I encourage you to pick up a copy at www.ElizabethHugo.com