07 October 2009

Parenting on the razor's edge

To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth--Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.--Proverbs 1:2-7

Over the past week or so, a confluence of factors has led me to think specifically about how I present Christ to my children. One of those factors was Michael Spencer, the i-monk. I once emailed Mr Spencer and told him that he was the blogger that I hate to love because although I don't always agree with him, he often makes me think deeply about my faith. Over the past few days, he has done a series of posts on young earth creationism, atheism, and abandoning the faith. This post today prompted me to write. Briefly, his essay tells of a young man who walked away from the God of his youth because there was no freedom to think independently or creatively under the umbrella of fundamentalism.

At times, when I read stories like this, I feel absolutely frozen inside. I believe there is no more important decision that my children can make than the decision for Christ, but how do I help them on that journey? Too much inflexibility and legalism can lead to rebellion. Too little guidance and structure can lead to a poorly calibrated moral compass. As I perch precariously along this narrow blade, I fear falling one way or the other, jeopardizing my children's eternal future.

As I think about these issues, I come to a place of wanting to teach my children to think for themselves from a Christian worldview by modeling that very thing in myself. I want them to see me deeply reflecting about issues in the world or in my faith and, through prayerful consideration and scriptural contemplation, coming to what I believe is a Biblical conclusion. When they approach me with questions, I want to provide guidance and wise counsel, but also encourage them to think through the questions for themselves with no hint of judgment in their process. If they arrive at a conclusion that is different from mine, I want to be able to ask myself whether their conclusion jeopardizes their salvation. If it does, I pray God gives me the words as I encourage them to seek Him. If it does not, I pray that I can demonstrate grace and parental pride in their ability to think for themselves.

Above all, I pray that God grants me the wisdom and the courage to teach my children what is truly important--the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Discussions about how the earth was created, whether homosexuality is a sin, or whether Bono is actually a Christian are infinitesimally unimportant relative to the Good News. I also pray for freedom from anxiety about whether I am "doing it right" instead trusting that if God seeks my children, they will be found by Him. I desire for myself and my children to be overwhelmed by the grace of Christ, to love others, and seek God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

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