A few years ago I stumbled upon a site dedicated to conversations about masculinity. I thought it might be an encouragement to my husband, even though it didn’t ascribe to Christianity. The first article I saw was titled, “Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex”.* The article was written in response to rules that fathers set for their dating daughters. His advice to his daughter and the premise of the article can be summed up in this paragraph:
“Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.”
He continued by informing his teenage daughter that he will be there for her when her heart gets broken and that she needs to make her own mistakes and learn how to deal with them, in so many words.
I’m not inclined do a full critique of his article. His logic and theories breakdown quickly for the Christian. His advice is harmful at best and sinister at its worst. His daughter, if she heeds his advice, will come home with a broken heart. She will feel used and objectified. She may enjoy it for a while, but all instant gratification is just that—instant. It runs out, and leads to death (Rom. 6:23).
Two obstacles to raising our children
We may never write an article like this, but those of us who are parents face obstacles every step of the way as we seek to raise our children.
The first begins in a parent’s heart. I want my children to enjoy life. I can see in my heart a desire to want to please them—or worse, appease them. We want our kids to like us. We want to be their friend, the person they turn to and confide in. These desires aren’t necessarily bad unless they become idols or are rooted in anything but a God-fearing love for our kids. Once we begin to forgo clear teaching in the Word and excuse sin to appear “cool” and relatable, then we are no longer acting in love.
Then there’s the world that screams, “Give your children what they want!” From all appearances, the author of the article had adopted this notion. We see this being played out in other ways, as well, even among Christian parents. For example, why should you withhold alcohol from your underage child and all her friends if you are hosting a party for them in your home? Or, what’s the danger in buying an adult magazine for your son if you’re still teaching him that sex before marriage is sinful?
Forsaking “cool” for the sake of the gospel
Christian parents are without excuse because we have clear instructions for raising our children. We aren’t called to be “cool” or give them anything and everything they want—and thank God that he hasn’t given us everything we once thought we wanted! God’s Word says we should “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). We must be intentional in training our children by the Word as a means of loving our children, whether they choose to embrace Christ or not. God says he will finish the good work he began; we are called to be faithful.
I’m still learning what it means to train up my children in the way they should go as a young mom with two kids. But I do know that training starts with the gospel. From there, all the implications of the gospel are applied. The gospel, through God’s Spirit, will teach my children what it means to receive grace and be forgiven. It will be the only lasting motivation for God-ward living.
The examples I’ve used in this article may seem like a stretch. Yet, we can still be tempted to fall into less obvious parenting traps like laziness, fear of man and idolatry with our children. The good news is we can ask the Lord to give us the grace to fear him above our children. The gospel isn’t only for us to share with our children; it is for us to receive. We can confess our sin, repent and receive grace. God will be faithful to cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
The author of the article is convinced that his actions and words are out of love for his daughter. But he is deceived. My prayer is that this father would realize the danger of his words and would come to know Jesus as his Savior. And may we all fight the temptation to give our kids the world while forfeiting their very souls.
*Due to the explicit language in the article I have chosen not to link the article and desire to leave the names anonymous to protect his daughter.