Theological Thoughts

On Roles and Respect, Part 1

On Roles and Respect, Part 1

I’ve read a host of articles on the loss of civility in our culture in these last few days. The profound casualness in virtually every place leads to a disregard of titles and inevitably a loss of respect for authority roles in our culture. I want to just address the child/parent relationship at this stage.

As I walked to the green isle to grab the lettuce, I overheard a child (no more than 10 years of age) who was vehemently disagreeing with his mom whom he addressed affectionately as “Nancy.” She looked at me and then recognized my role in society (I was wearing a collar), and respectfully greeted me as “Pastor.” She quickly acknowledged what her child failed to acknowledge: that when roles are trivialized or not honored, relationships do not function as they should.

Let’s start with the basics: Children need to refer to their parents as “mom”, “dad,” or some variation. To remove titles means a parent loses his position of authority, and children now receive virtually equal authority in domestic decisions. When parents refuse to inculcate distinctions in the home with their proper titles, we lose the necessary structure and environment that make the home run.

Amputating the Bible

We must confess the fact that much of evangelicalism has turned the Old Testament pages into a series of unconnected moralistic stories. This reminds me of a lecture delivered by R.C. Sproul one time where he asked for a copy of the Bible. A young college student threw a copy of the New Testament Gideon’s Pocket-Size Bible to him. Sproul looked at it and threw it right back and said, “I asked for a Bible, young man!” We have disassociated the Scriptures and treated it as a collection of unrelated stories. The reality, however, is that the Bible is a collection of unified stories made to build on one another with each story adding a more nuanced and elevated art form to the big picture. The Old Testament Scriptures are far more than moral lessons, it’s the very environment that makes the New Testament coherent. The presuppositions of the Gospels and Apostolic writings depend heavily on the assumptions of the Law and the Prophets. The Bible, to paraphrase Luther, “is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” To categorically divide Old and New is to amputate the Scriptural intent to hold and illumine our hearts and minds.

Praising our Children

Praising our Children

One of the emphases I’ve made over the years is the need for parents to rightly praise their children. Echoing the language found in the baptism of Jesus, I remind folks of the Father’s bold declaration that Jesus is His “beloved Son with whom He is well pleased.” I especially wish to emphasize the profound affect praise has when it comes from the lips of fathers.

While praising required duties (Lk. 17:10) like doing daily chores is not always necessary, acts of confession, truthfulness in the midst of culpability, genuine acts of repentance, honor to those in authority, etc. should be praised often and consistently as acts that shape and develop the character of our children as they grow in godliness and grace.

Let’s go to Church!

My good friend Randy Booth once observed that Christians ought to make a decision to go to Church on Sundays (excepting extraordinary circumstances) once in a lifetime rather than every Saturday night (or early Sunday morning). Men, I urge you today to make that commitment with your family, if you haven’t already.

Micro-Managing Children

Micro-managing our children is a poor strategy. Yes, we need to protect, but micro-managing parents suck the life out of children. Not all their mistakes nor the poor use of words need to be corrected. Some of the most joyful children I’ve met were not micro-managed, but talked to and treated by parents with utmost respect. If we exert micro-managing authority, children will find ways to manage their sins in the dark. If we exert our authority in love, respect, and openness, our children will by God’s grace lovingly, respectfully, and openly speak of and confess their sins.

Additional Comments:

” I do think that micro-managing finds a more suitable home in home-schooling environments for a variety of reasons which are too many to list. But I see this tendency lived out in patriarchal-like circles in a tendency to isolate from church life and preserve a certain pride in our “way of doing things,” and refusing to be like “them.” The result is a new generation of sophisticated atheists who know how to think and use their stories of growing up in such environments to write blogs and start Facebook pages for disenfranchised children of such parents. It’s almost a movement.”

” I wonder how many of us have the boldness to ask those who know us to honestly assess if we fit that description.”

“My central point being that micro-managing produces children who do not confess or are afraid to confess their faults and failures.”

Image result for micromanaging dilbert

Parenting Via Perfection

The notion of parenting via perfection is a myth. When parents say “We are not perfect,” they are merely echoing a false sentiment. No one expects parental perfection. What the Bible demands is parental faithfulness. Faithfulness turns father’s hearts to hurting sons/daughters. Perfection is a myth. Faithfulness is the way of the kingdom. The clearest path to faithfulness is when parents embrace the life of repentance before their children. You can carry the excuse of not being perfect to cover your mistakes/anger or you can carry the faithfulness model and repent before your own children and assert again and again that this home is a place for people that need Jesus daily, and of those, I am most consistently in need of Him.

What is Manhood?

The articulation of manhood is wrong-headed in much of our culture. The man who makes a good living is providing for his wife, but it does not mean he’s a man of character. We’ve seen our share of professionally successful men who abandon their families. The idea of man as strong and powerful may provide protection in its broadest sense, but it’s still not manhood in the biblical sense. In the end, the man who submits to God and His Bride is the most desirable trait and the true definition of manhood. Tim Keller summarizes this well when he wrote: “Men, you’ll never be a good groom to your wife unless you’re first a good bride to Jesus.”

Homeschooling Rest

Homeschooling Rest

Let me address homeschool dads. I am certain what I am about to say applies to other dads in some ways, but my focus is homeschooling fathers. As a homeschooling family, I have a front seat to the remarkable work my wife accomplishes in a solitary day; the ability to navigate, dictate, advocate for the children throughout the day while instructing, cherishing, and hugging. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment. Yet, I wonder how often we dads see their sacrifices, enter into their struggle to offer support and rest. The latter is especially crucial to the successful work of homeschooling moms. It is inconceivable that a homeschooling father watches everything that takes place in the home and remains unmoved by the almost supernatural itinerary of his wife. So, here’s my exhortation: do not fail to praise and edify your wife. Do provide times of regular rest for her. Do see her work as a delightful reminder of the Gospel which nurtures us daily. Consistently ask if there are ways you can make her task more joyful.

Homeschooling is not a task to overburden, overwork, and age quicker. It’s a gift from God to train and nourish your children in the Lord and husbands play a fundamental role in minimizing the pressures and maximizing the pleasures of serving our little ones.

Honoring the Childless Women in the Church

I do wish to rightly honor mothers tomorrow, but for now, I want to address those who would love to bear children but are not able to do so, though in so many ways they have been fruitful and multiplied by pouring themselves into the lives of countless people. I honor the Jane Austens’ and Flannery O’Connors’ of this world who though never married taught us about life in its beauty and elegance. My deepest honor for those women who have chosen childlessness and singleness to love the lost and to proclaim Christ in distant lands in orphanages, translation work, education, and so much more. We rightly honor you, and though you may not share in the celebration of Mother’s Day, you are honored by God and His Church for your glorious role in redemption’s story.

Kuyper and Lordship, Episode 3