|Standing on the Promises:
A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing
by Douglas Wilson
[W]hile we may trust God for the character of our children, He has not promised us anything about our children’s intellectual capacities. Suppose parents have undertaken a rigorous program of homeschooling, or they plan to enroll their child in a world-class private Christian school. Having done so, they announce to their friends that their child is going to be a NASA scientist, or that he’ll be reading the Greek New Testament by the age of four. Well, maybe. The best educators in the world cannot put in what God left out.
Parents must not kid themselves. An unregenerate sinful nature begins to appear in its true colors during [the teen] years, and in such a situation parents often have to work very hard to persuade themselves that their child is truly regenerate.
[T]he gospel applies to everything. Those who make such an application have a Christian worldview. Those who do not make such an application may of course be saved, but they do not think like Christians.
It is very important for parents of teenagers to maintain the distinction…between house rules and God’s rules. A great deal of damage is done when kids grow up in a Christian home where biblical law and house rules are confused. The bad will drive out the good, the traditions of men will replace the commandments of God–with moralism as the result. The result can be grown children who are aghast at the drinking of beer, but who tolerate gossip as a matter of course. But God never prohibited the former, and He strictly forbade the latter. What biblical parents want is morality, not moralism.
“Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5b). The Bible makes room for house rules. This instruction from Paul comes in the context of settling a dispute in the church about eating vegetables and observing special days. But the principle here merits our close attention because the modern church has more than her share of “debatable matters.” Unfortunately, the fact that we have many opportunities to apply Paul’s instructions does not mean that we necessarily do. Many of the debatable areas concern our teenagers.
The Bible does not teach, “There is no answer on these debatable issues, so leave the other guy alone.” Consideration and courtesy are not relativistic. There is a correct answer. Paul for example, gives us the right answer on the vegetarian issue, but also says that those who know the right answer are to defer to the weaker brother’s conscience. The strong are to defer to the weak. So Christians have the right, according to Scripture, to eat only vegetables, even though God calls it a weakness. Now if someone becomes imperialistic and insists that everyone else eat only vegetables, the clear duty of the church is to oppose such legalism. In Colossians, Paul requires us not to submit to decrees which say we are not to handle, taste, or touch (Col. 2:20-22). Christians simply must not obey the legalist. But if a weaker brother (or simply a brother with whom we differ) is applying this standard to himself alone, or to his own household, then we are to leave him alone.
The parents should view themselves as successful if their seventeen-year-old boy wants to be away from home.
After the child has left, he still honors his parents by respecting them and by supporting them financially when they are older (Mark 7:11-13). This may involve taking them into the home to care for them. Of course, there are certain situations where it is medically impossible to have elderly parents live in the home. But in a godly society, with godly family order, the common practice of placing elderly parents in old folks homes would not exist. The proliferation of these emotional hellholes where people go to die, and where they spend the last 15 years of their lives in lonely isolation, is an abomination.
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