Sunday, July 28, 2013

Children: a blessing or a status symbol?


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This post begins a 5 part series on common misconceptions Christians have about their responsibility in biblical parenting. Today, I want to discuss the idea of whether we are treating our children as the blessings that they are or as status symbols that tell the world how lucky and happy we are.

In our culture, as in every culture, we have certain things that make us look more successful, more happy, and more blessed. Owning your own home is a popular status symbol in the western world. A post-graduate degree is a status symbol. And unfortunately for our children, society has come to see children, not as a blessing from God, but as a status symbol. This is made clear when you think of how common it is to ask a newly married couple, "So, when are you having kids?!"

The Bible says that children are "a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him" (Psalm 127:3). Think for a minute about the kinds of things people consider to be blessings. Money, for instance is often considered to be a blessing. If you woke up one day, went to your mailbox, and inside you found that you have been gifted $100,000 dollars, what would you do? Of course you would feel very blessed, and you would (if you're smart) keep the money in a safe place, whether that be through investments, at a bank or elsewhere.

Now consider what we do in our society when we have a child. The child is born, and there is great joy. The child is called a blessing.  But is the child kept close? Generally speaking, the child is kept close to the mother for 6 weeks. A very small percentage take six months or a year to stay-at-home with the child. A few stay home with them until preschool. But the vast majority of children are in a childcare setting from 6 weeks on, and remain in the care of virtual strangers for the majority of their waking hours for the rest of their childhood.

You can see that if children really were considered a blessing, that parents would not so unthinkingly send them away after 6 weeks, or 6 months, or even 3 years. When you have been given a blessing, your responsibility to that blessing is to invest in the blessing, and to treasure it in every way for as long as you have the blessing.

As Christian moms, we should not expect to raise Bible-believing, practicing Christian children if we do not act as if our children really are a blessing to us. In this case, words are not enough. Saying that you think children are a blessing will not a blessed child make. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. If children are a blessing and a reward from God, we must--must--consider the implications of that blessing, and reject the societal view--and resulting actions--that children are a status symbol.

You may be thinking that you don't think your children are a status symbol. That you think they are a blessing. Maybe so. Maybe you do think that. But consider, do you keep your blessing (children) close to you, or do you trust your blessing (children) to many people whom you (let's be honest) hardly know and don't share a belief system with? Do you invest in your blessing (children), not in the world's sense of providing them with every opportunity, but in the biblical sense of training them up in the ways of the Lord? Do you care about their spiritual health in theory, but in practice you spend little to no time investing in their budding Christianity?

It's critical for Christian parents to think deeply about these questions. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, Jesus lauded the servant who took his talents and invested them, but to the servant who, upon receiving his talents, hid them, essentially sending them away from him and refusing to invest them because it was too hard and he was afraid, Jesus said, "but for the one who does not have, even what he has shall be taken away" (emphasis mine). We can't send our children away from us, essentially treating them as status symbols of our success and happiness in the world, and not reap the consequences. I love Voddie Baucham's quote on the matter, and I'll end with it, "We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar...and be surprised when they come home as Romans."

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