Alarm Bells

Looking back, alarm bells should have sounded many times earlier in my life.

  • Before I had any personal relationship with God, I knew chapters of the Bible by memory and could tell you why and how he created the earth in six literal days (and why I was sure God was in fact a ‘he’).
  • Before I know much about the Bible, I could tell you why the King James Version was the only Bible written by God and could defend this with handfuls of significant and critical errors the wishy-washy liberal translators of every other version chose (read: ‘purposefully chose’) to make.
  • Before I knew anything about sex and intimate sexual relationship in the context of a ‘Christian marriage’, I had read and heard graphic descriptions and explanations of homosexual acts, methods and motivations—uncensored—from material written by experts in Christian ‘family values’.
  • Before I had any understanding of the love, generosity and grace of God, I learned to fear him who had me in his hand, holding me (as it were) over the cauldron of hell’s fire.

I say all this as a warning to all who have the awesome privilege of being parents.  Be aware that your children may interpret what you intend as good, solid, Christian instruction in a way that actually distorts the reality of the loving, gracious, inclusive nature of God. Encourage your child in growing a deep relationship with God, not simply an intellectual understanding of the Divine. Show them the Bible not as a history book, or a textbook, or even a guidebook for life, but a story of people’s desire to connect with God and God’s love for them. Yes, people get it wrong and you need to teach your children to not be afraid of making mistakes or taking a wrong turn–put simply, this is what is included in the package we call ‘being human.’

Demonstrate to your children what a loving relationship looks like and encourage them to think, ask questions, seek rather than supply them with your questions and your answers to those questions. Show them God by being a loving, forgiving, gracious parent, not someone to be feared and mindlessly obeyed. Demonstrate the love of God by your acceptance of others and the diversity they bring with them. Affirm everyone’s worth and speak positively of other people’s journeys. Don’t be satisfied with providing rote answers but encourage contemplation and reflection. Allow room for unanswered questions and don’t be satisfied with an answer just because it fits into your framework of understanding.

Above all, trust God to look after your children and to nurture them in their own unique faith journey. Their story will–and should be–different than yours since they have been created as individuals with distinctive personalities and gifts. The One who made them, knows them, and will complete that which has been begun in them.

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