I will never forget the day I received a call from our then four-year-old daughter’s Sunday School teacher. It was a conversation I was not quite prepared for, and to say that I was left speechless is an understatement. This kind, caring, and concerned teacher called to tell me that my daughter disputed with her on the Ten Commandments and marriage.
The point made in class was that when a man and a woman marry, they are to stay married only to each other. Apparently, my daughter piped in all flustered with, “No. A man can marry a man, and a woman can marry a woman, though!” Her teacher gently corrected her, but my daughter was adamant in her view. A question that kept swirling through my mind was, “Where did our daughter get the idea that same-sex marriage is normative or is approved by God’s Word?”
After I got off the phone with the teacher, my husband and I sat down with our daughter to ask her about what she believed about marriage. She told us what she said to her class that morning. When we asked her where she learned this, she said that one of the neighbor kids told her one day while they were playing on the trampoline.
Speaking ahead of our culture
What precipitated the talk surrounding same-sex marriage during playtime remains unclear to us, but what became evidently clear was that it was time to frame our children’s value system rather than assume acceptance of certain absolutes. We decided from that point on that instead of reacting to culture, we want to speak ahead of culture with the infallible truth of God’s Word so that our children will be able to discern truth from error.
It is not enough for us to take our children to church, send them to camp, or play only Christian music. The stakes are too high to assume that a formulated Christian worldview will take hold. For example, some researchers believe that a child’s first exposure to pornography is around eight years old, and yet many Christian parents have yet to discuss or shape their children’s understanding of a biblical sexual ethic. The conversation is not an all-at-once, beginning-to-end formulation, but an ongoing discussion that matures over time as our children mature.
The culture is speaking loud and clear. We must be louder and clearer. Three ways we can do this well is to tell, tune in, and talk:
- Tell the whole story: The Bible is God’s story of rescuing man from death to life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We want our children to know and believe this. If we get anything right as parents, let us get this right. Yet, in doing so, we must not neglect teaching our children about God’s standard of righteousness, because Christ did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. The writer of Proverbs clearly marks two paths that we will choose to walk: the way of wisdom, or the way of folly. Godly parents will lovingly lead their children on the way of gospel wisdom, and this means we tell the story of God’s rich mercy and grace, as well as his righteous judgment.
- Tune in to culture: Not only are we to know the Scriptures and faithfully teach them to our children, but we must be like the men of Issachar who had understanding of the times (1 Chron. 12:32). This means that we read the news, equip ourselves with quality resources to help us engage our children, and educate ourselves through mediums like the ERLC to establish a Christian worldview response to the pervading culture.
- Talk with our kids: One of the most crippling obstacles to building relationships with our children over time is busyness. When we are busy, we are distracted, and when we are distracted, we miss opportunities to engage the hearts of our kids. There is no perfect way to do this, and as a parent, I am navigating through the challenges that come with multiple children and packed schedules. There are a number of activities on our calendar that we can say “No” to, but may we say “Yes!” when it comes to spending time with our children to get to know them, listen to their hearts, and nurture the relationship.
We don’t want to be reactionary to culture. Instead, we should respond with the living and active Word of God. Discipling our children in an age of confusion will require us to establish a Christian worldview that speaks to the issues at hand rather than avoiding them altogether. Is this easy? No. But, we are promised that the Spirit will teach and guide us into all truth. The lifelong “when you sit in your house, walk by the way, lie down, and rise” diligent teaching of faithful parents to their children is the call of Christian discipleship in the home. It is our primary call. In this age of confusion, may we be clear on truth, for ourselves and for our children.