Dr. Randy White
In the first post of this series, I spelled out the basic will of God for the family: one man and one woman in a life-long marriage having multiple children who are raised with spiritual depth. Today, I want to build on that foundation with an expression of goals I think are valuable for any young family today. None of these goals are politically correct. In fact, most are politically charged in our secular, humanist, and socialist society.
Goal: a child who is an independent and critical thinker.
Our society has become so socialist that independent thinking is frowned upon. It is honorable in a socialist society to carry the company line and sing the patriotic tune. For socialism, it is anathema to think that one idea is better than another, one set of values is healthier than the other, one way of thinking is right and the other wrong. I want my children to believe exactly that, however. This kind of independent thinking can only come about with critical thinking.
Christians today are scared of critical thinking. We’ve been bombarded with feel-good, sound-happy messages. We are trained to develop a wonderful, “Little House on the Prairie” life where “never is heard a discouraging word.” The one who speaks his mind, especially if his mind speaks of the flaws in thought, deceptive nature of current thinking, or likely disaster of outcome of the current path, that one is shunned as a troublemaker who is killing potential with his or her negative vibe.
I want parents to teach their children to question their textbook, be suspicions of the news report, test the truth and balance of the classroom lecture, and poke and prod on presentations and teachings that come from all around–even from within the church. I think every child should be taught to analyze what they are hearing so that they can quickly make a determination about its Biblical worldview, its honest reporting of the facts, its recognition of the flip-side, and its agenda-driven nature. I think it is problematic that most teenagers today so quickly swallow the bait, hook-line-and-sinker. Parent, teach your children to ask questions, investigate truth, and wait to make a judgment until they have heard the entire story. A mentor of mine once reminded me that it is an awfully thin pancake that doesn’t have two sides!
Goal: a child who is strongly capable with language and logic.
Today’s American world values athletic ability, math and science knowledge, and social skills. Good looks trump any of the above. I personally wouldn’t give a plug nickel for any of these attributes of it was at the expense of a strong command of language and logic. In the end, the one with strength of words and wisdom will be the winner, in my book.
Years ago, language and logic were honored. In those days, we taught latin, logic, and rhetoric as the foundational elements of learning. Any parent today would do well to make sure their children are solid in these subjects. Along with this, help your child excel in the knowledge of great word works of classic literature.
And teach your child logic! Can that boy of yours spot flawed argumentation when it is presented? If not, he will swallow the bait! Recently I read an article on Christian support for Israel that spent two full pages arguing that Jesus is the only way to salvation and speaking against dual-covenant theology. I was able to see this as a straw-man or “red herring” since, having studied the matter closely, I have been unable to find anyone who actually teaches dual-covenant theology. I was quickly able to recognize that the author had at least a secondary motive in his argumentation. Indeed, when I came to the end of the article I was able to spot it without problem. If our children are able to recognize principles of logic and rhetoric, they can see a sham coming even when it is dressed in the “emperor’s new clothes.”
As important as math and science are in the world, mathematicians and scientists answer to a supervisor who is skilled in language and logic!
Goal: A child who is suspicious of government.
In our positive-thinking “never is heard a discouraging word” faith environment of today’s churches, we devalue suspicion. In doing so, we have devalued discernment in theology, human relations, and many other areas of life. I think it is time to revalue suspicion and teach our children to be “wise as serpents.”
One area in which I especially want to breed suspicion in my children is in the area of trust of government. I believe that suspicion toward government is Biblical. When the Lord prophesied that the day would come in which His chosen nation would want a King, He also told them what they would get with that King: high taxes, military drafts, big government projects, and slavery to the system. Not only is it Biblical, but our American forefathers had a great suspicion of government and sought to build a system with a small and weak governing structure.
I am suspicious of government. It may start well, but it never stops. Government grows, its reach encroaches. Its programs never die, its bills are never paid-in-full, its growth is rarely halted. Give it an inch and it will soon have the mile.
While most of us claim to have this suspicion, we are also sadly looking to government for “the fix.” When something atrocious takes place, we quickly cry out, “There should be a law against that!” In other words: Government can fix this! Personally, I don’t want the government to fix the charges my bank gouges me with at the ATM anymore than I want them to fix what it costs to have my appendix removed. In the Bible, Government has an extremely limited God-given assignment. Almost all of what government does today is outside that assignment. I hope my children are suspicious, therefore, of almost everything the government does.
Goal: A child who is fierce in faith.
A child who thinks critically, speaks eloquently, and is suspicious of government can still be a faithless child. My goal is a child of fierce faith. I am convinced that fierceness of faith is not developed by emotional charge. Today’s faith world seems to think we should come together, turn up the volume, sing beautiful songs, then hear a “go git ‘em tiger” message that will raise our level of enthusiasm so that we can go fight at hell’s gates with a water pistol. The problem with all this is that enthusiasm runs dry as quickly and easily as it runs high.
I would much rather the faith of my children be built on Biblical knowledge. The Bible, after all, is the Sword of the Spirit. We hear a lot about being filled with the Spirit but not much about the Spirit’s sword. I want my children’s minds to be shaped by God’s Word. Filled with the facts of faith, they can serve as defenders of the faith. Filled with enthusiasm alone, they can perhaps fight off temptation for an evening or share the love of God for a day, but it will soon fade away.
In my next post: Dangers facing the family.