I saw a goofy journalist on Twitter claim, in essence, that Jesus opposed “conservative family values.”
Nothing about Jesus of Nazareth screams “conservative family values”
— Daniel José Camacho (@DanielJCamacho) July 1, 2017
Leave aside for a moment that Jesus wasn’t much of a screamer (Matthew 12:19-20).
As an experiment let’s see what the gospels related concerning Jesus’ views about the topics of conservative family values:
Matthew 19:3-12 ESV
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
Non-conservatives outside of the group that identifies as asexuals are typically astounded any promotion of intentional celibacy. Similarly, non-conservatives overwhelmingly support no-fault divorce. Jesus utterly rejected the ancient equivalent. Jesus also endorsed sexual dimorphism as the divinely instituted rfoundation of marriage.
Matthew 19:13-15 ESV
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Jesus, who taught that the kingdom of God was the highest value, made it clear that it was meant for children. In other words, Jesus supports the having of children, through the means mentioned in marriage.
Matthew 15:3-6 ESV
He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
Jesus says that honoring mother and father extends to financial care in their old age. He then claims that any tradition or practice that gets in the way of doing so constitutes rejection of God’s word. This is so, even if that practice is explicitly connected to worship.
Jesus’ Teaching Goes Beyond
Now, Jesus’ teaching goes beyond conservative family values. But he’s certainly not opposed to marriage, having children, raising them to live in God’s kingdom, or even going to work to support your family (which he did). He goes beyond when he said to love your enemies and choose moral rectitude over family loyalty, but Jesus never contradicts family values. He actually makes them harder.