05 January 2014
Preparing our children for their own sin
Every week I counsel young people from solid Christian homes who are undone by their sin. As parents, we are sometimes more invested in protecting our children from sinful influences of this world than we are in preparing them for the deep sinfulness of their own hearts. We think that if we can just keep them from sinning too much while they are young and vulnerable, then they won't struggle with sin so much as adults. Of course, good parents don't allow their kids to sin much. They discipline, teach, restrain, and intervene. Yet these actions alone don't prepare young people well for the reality of the powerful temptations they will face when mom and dad aren't around. Simply building a fence between a child and temptation is not the same thing as preparing him to face life.
If we are honest and wise we will remind our children that they are depraved little sinners right from the start, that being naughty is easy and natural for kids and moms and dads, and that obeying is far beyond our ability. If we deny that reality by acting terribly surprised they sin and saying "how could you do that?" it is not surprising that our children become confused. No wonder college campuses are overflowing with young Christian men and women who know that they are sinners in some global and lofty way, but who fall apart and are shattered with anxiety and depression when they fall into specific sin. They are shocked by their own desires and behavior, and they find themselves turning to harmful addictions or to the manic pursuit of Christian disciplines in order to pacify their desperate feelings of failure and inadequacy.
I think we are afraid to believe that we are weak (or to help our kids know that they are weak) because we fear that admitting weakness is the same thing as condoning sin.