Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I recently read an article on homeschooling that I thought was a must-read for all Christian parents. Although the article dealt with some of the weaknesses of the homeschooling model, it took a breathtakingly honest look at what it means to be a Christian parent. 

The author chronicles the lessons he's learned as a Christian parent about over-protection, ministering to his children's hearts, and about freedom in Christ.  As a minister in his church he felt constantly scrutinized and in retrospect writes that he sometimes allowed the potential for his congregation to judge him to color his parenting. With regret he says some times he was more concerned about his church seeing him as a good parent than he was about his son's spiritual well-being.

I was more than a little disturbed.  Surely the fear of embarrassment or judgment would never slide into first place over the well-being of a child of mine, would it?  There's a story in the gospels about just that.  

John relates a story about blindness both physical and spiritual (John 9).  The story starts when the disciples question who it was that sinned to cause this man to be born blind, he or his parents.  The mother and father of this child must have lived under the shadow of this question since the day he was born.   What was it that they did to cause their child to be born blind? Worse could it have been something inherently bad in the child himself? They know all about being judged.  Society had been speculating about them for the last thirty years.

When Jesus heals the man, the gossip starts.  "Could this even be the same guy?" they wonder.  So they corner the beggar in question to get the story first-hand and ask where to find Jesus.  Not satisfied with the current level of nosiness, they drag him off to see the Pharisees.  

Like a flock of hens the Pharisees stand around the healed man picking, pecking, and trying to decide what to think.  On the one hand, they say, Jesus healed him on the Sabbath, a big no-no.  On the other hand, they say, sinners don't do miracles.  Finally they decided he's just a big fat liar and call in his mom and dad to confirm that he had indeed been born blind.  Here's the conversation:

Pharisees: "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?" (John 9:19)

Mom and Dad: "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself" (John 9:20-21).

Every time I read those words I feel a little stunned.  How could they reply, "Go ask him?"  Everyday since he was born they must have wished for his sight!  They must have wished that their son could work, marry, be a father.  They didn't conceive him in the hopes that he would sit at the corner and beg.  How could they deny the person who gave them their hearts desire?   

John 9:22 relates, "His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to put out of the synagogue."  They were so afraid of being further judged, further isolated from the community at large that they betrayed their own son.

They just wanted to fit in. 

So, I ask myself, could I ever betray my kids?  Maybe the better question to ask is: In what situations do I feel judged based on my kids?  It's dangerous to let competition creep into our parenting.  It's dangerous to let the world dictate to us what our kids should be watching, playing, doing and thinking.  But I'll be haunted a long time by the fact that in these two examples, the article and the story of the man born blind, it was the religious community that these parents were trying to please when they betrayed their child.

Could it be, that in some attempt to gain acceptance by a community of Christians I impose Pharisaical traditions, the trends and politics of the people around me, on my children and thereby reject what God can accept?  Do I perhaps insist on behaviors when I am with other Christians that I am more relaxed about at home?  Why?  Is it because I am teaching my kids to white-wash their walls? (Matthew 23:27) Have we stumbled into a situation where instead of building up our children we're building our reputation? Do we believe that freedom in Christ applies only to adults, or perhaps we don't really believe in it at all.

The issues of protecting our kids, leading them to a full and rich spiritual life in Christ and being a part of a church and the Christian community at large are extremely important.  No parent wants to lose a child to Satan or watch them suffer the consequences of sin.  Yet if we are not careful these honest desires could become an idol.  Worse our desire to "fit in", even if or especially if, its "fit in" at church could lead us to deny our children's freedom in Christ. Leaving us standing, Pharisees, beside the blind man's parents betraying our own children and Jesus Christ who saves them.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment