As parents, if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably say that we are more frightened by what the world has to offer our kids rather than our kids hunting down the evil for themselves. We fear that Satan and all his cronies will be lingering around every corner and snatch, harm, and lure our kids away from the truths that have been taught to them. Being a mom, I fear that my girls will be lied to and they’ll find themselves confused. Other parents fear their sons and daughters will not be able to stand up to the temptation offered by the world. These are all very real things that happen in our society, but they aren’t new. None of the sin that is in our world today is fresh. Satan has been around the block a few times and just reuses his strongest weapons over and over again. Knowing he is crafty at what has been done before, our families can be armed and ready to face the schemes he thinks will snare us. However, at this strategizing point of the battle plans, Christians often fall prey to fear and retreat. We run and hide in the bunkers of our buildings and safe havens. We find Christian shirts to wear, we use Christian lingo, and we surround ourselves with Christian people, activities, and teachers. Perfect!
Not so perfect, my friend. May I bring to your attention that this might just be Satan’s greatest weapon? If Satan can gather all the Christians that really love God and truly want to be Christ-like, and keep us all together in the same buildings speaking terminology that nobody but us understands, then I think he might have gotten a step ahead of us in our own battle plan. He has scared us stiff and we’ve all gone running away from the very people we are called to serve and share the message of the Gospel with! Our of fear, we use the “monastery parenting” approach, as Wyrtzen calls it and we try to build walls high enough to keep the evil out forgetting that the origin of the sin of this world is found within our very internal nature due to the fall in the Garden of Genesis. Jesus said “It is the thought life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All of these wile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God.”
The barriers we place around ourselves and our kids can’t be built high enough or bunkers deep and thick enough to protect against such snares of the enemy. These snares lie within our hearts. Yes, there are horrible parts of the world that we can, and definitely should, shield our kids from such as pornography, abuse, and the like. But we need not ignore that these things happen in our society and intentionally teach our kids about them so they are armed with the truth to fight the battles they will face in the same world we are called to love and serve. Wyrtzen goes on to write that the children that are raised in such “monastery” homes tend to be the ones that flea such sheltering and raise their own children with a no-rules policy out of desire for freedom and discovery.
So not only does living behind a barricade leave the child thinking that sin only lives on the other side of the wall, but often causes him to respond negatively simply because he so desires to discover what’s out there. When one is raised with this “bunker” thinking, life’s motto becomes “life is only about surviving and enduring our time on earth until Christ returns or we go to meet him in death” and not really about the instructions Christ left us found in Matthew 28:19-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit".
My question to you, as a fellow Christian, is to what extent is the protection of the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children left in the hands of Christ? How far are we willing to let God take our kids before we pull the reigns of authority and cry “too far God”? Are we bold enough to pull parental rank on God’s call for the lives of our kids? Please don’t assume that I am encouraging you to throw caution to the wind and release your children into any wavering notion they come across in life. Don’t neglect to use the wisdom God provides parents. Sometimes the perspective of a parent can be just the footing necessary to ground the flighty thoughts of an excitable young adult. God has a trajectory planned for our kids’ lives and we need to be ready to release that energy that propels them into the correct flight pattern.
Interacting with college students everyday gives me a chance to see the outcome of parenting strategies across the board. I’ve come in contact with healthy, strong, confident, able, and focused students and I’ve met worried, fearful, hidden, and unhealthy young adults. In most cases, there is a direct connection between the health- both spiritual and mental health- and the strengths or weaknesses of the parents. Not to say that mothers and fathers reproduce themselves, but simply that choices, goals, and motivating factors parents choose when raising their kids have a strong impact on the child. Some Christian students fear befriending the hallmate known for partying on the weekends for a few reasons, either they don’t want to be associated with such individuals for fear that others will assume they participate accordingly or they fear the lure of the temptation to party with such drinkers. In the end, both students loose the chance for growth- the partier doesn’t develop a friendship that could draw her closer to Christ and the Christian lives in fear of falling into sin or a potential strike on her reputation as living a pure lifestyle by not associating with such sinners. This type of timidity causes a false sense of pride and drives the divide between believes and non-believers wider.
As Christians we aren’t called to love and obey God with just our own priorities, finances, and friendships, but with our most prized possession as well-our kids. Let us not fear releasing our children into the plans and purposes God has for them. Let us not fear training them and impressing upon them the scriptures we’ve found so true in our own lives. Let us not fear the work laid before them and do what we can project them onto the pathway marked out for them.