Screwtape writes his nephew, “In civilized life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face.” [Page 13, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis.]
In the third letter Screwtape encourages Wormwood to incite domestic strife between Wormwood’s “patient” and his mother. One of the traps of the evil one is to seduce us with the delusion that we can be justifiably insensitive and unforgiving at home while being loving and caring in public and when at church. It is as if we build a wall between our home life and public life – like children we role play; unlike child’s play our games have long-term consequences.
The Kingdom of God begins at home. Reconciliation begins at home. Humility begins at home. Credibility begins at home. The shaping of our souls, of our hearts and minds into the image of Jesus Christ, finds no better place to begin than at home, among those with whom we live when we are out of the public’s eye, out of sight of the congregation. If there is a prayer closet in which we commune with the Father, there is also the secret place of our home and family in which the Father sees us as we really are; He sees how we treat our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, He sees our hearts and minds, our attitudes and motives. We are deceived if we think that we can separate our public and private lives in the eyes of God, we fool ourselves if we think that obedience to Jesus Christ is reserved for when those outside our families see us and that we live under another standard, our own standard, when the doors to our homes are shut.
Pastors are infamous for serving everyone but their own families; but how many of their congregants do the same thing? We forgive others but not our own, we encourage others but not our own, we are longsuffering with others but not our own, we invest time in others but not our own, we listen to others but not our own, we overlook the faults of others but not our own.
Peter writes that husbands and wives are “heirs together of the grace of life”. There is a dynamic of communal inheritance of the grace of God in families, especially in marriages. The communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should be reflected in the communion of the family, most especially in marriage. God is not one way in heaven and another way on earth – neither should we be one way at home and another way in public.