Thursday, February 4, 2010

Guiding Our Children

I have heard this tale repeated by various people from different churches: when the subject of abortion is presented in a youth group, the youth leader gets a volley of complaints from parents. And his freedom in this area of teaching is restricted.
I asked a youth leader why he thought this happened and he thought that the parents were being overly protective of their children, not wanting them to find out things that are kind of gross for want of a better word.

I always wondered if perhaps the parents were trying to stop any discussion of the subject because of skeletons in their closets; the topic was just coming a little too close to home.

But this past weekend, the woman mentioned in the last post (director of the Pregnancy Care Centre here) said that the discussion of sexual morality (and abortion is the clean-up for unchaste behaviour) is not welcomed by Christian parents because they themselves were the ones who grew up in the sexual revolution. Their own behaviour won't stand much scrutiny but now they wish to raise families with Christian values and they are having trouble putting their past behaviour together with their present duties.

I have been mulling this over and thinking of people I know whose children have made choices that their parents wish they hadn't. And people who didn't feel that they had the right to give strong advice to their children. My generation has been raised in the rejection of Dr. Spock and we have been taught that our children are basically "good" persons, and that we should trust that "goodness" when they make major life decisions. Somehow we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to giving explicit moral advice, especially in the area of sexual morality.

And the thought came to me so clearly this morning over breakfast, while watching a clip from Focus on the Family. I wondered why it was that these strong evangelicals have no problem speaking clearly on moral issues, why they believe that parents need to be firm with their children in this area, even if sometimes they come across as dogmatic. They are not afraid to be dogmatic, to be clear, because they know that lives are at stake. Children make some very unwise choices, and some of those choices lead them down paths from which they may never return.

It is the confession of one's sins and faults that gives someone the authority to advise others.

So biblical, I must find the relevant passages and mark them down. But it was so clear; those Christian leaders who speak clearly on moral issues are often people who have had major conversions in their own lives. They have openly confessed their wrongs and have turned from them. It is that confession and the turning that gives them the ability and the authority to speak now. I am not advocating public truth-telling sessions; that would be unwise and unkind; but owning up to one's mistakes as mistakes or "sins" in the Christian context, not just as life experiences, seems to be the key here.

This explains why the father who had an affair that has been kept a secret cannot advise his son on the proper way to date and to marry a girl. And the son is often locked into behaviour that doesn't demand he grow up. There are so many young people today who live with someone for a while, then someone else, and a trail of broken relationships is all they have to show by the time they are forty. They can't seem to settle down. And they haven't been told that the way they are living is not right. After all, they are trusted to be the best judges of their own lives and eventually love will fix everything. They just haven't found the right person yet.

What a falsehood to be living with! But if the father who began the lie would only confess openly and admit that he had done wrong, lives could be built once again on the right foundation.

Everyone fails, everyone makes mistakes. It is in facing the truth of our failings and mistakes that we find freedom. And that freedom isn't for us only; it brings freedom to those around us. For parents who can confess to their wrongs, they acquire the freedom to speak with authority to their children. As always, "then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow ... Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me ... Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. - Psalm 51:7, 10, 13

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