I so appreciate the words that have been spoken out after the death of Lydia Schatz, a young homeschooled child in California. This article captures the heart of the issue.
All Christian parents must know, We cannot beat our children into obedience or submission – not “physical” beating – not “verbal” beating – not “mental or emotional” beating.
Starting out in a very strong homeschooling program in the 80’s, I at first believed that "first-time obedience" could be a reality all the time. I could raise perfectly impressive children, who would agree with everything I believed for all time. What was I thinking?? I often used anger, words, disapproval, and other pressures to get the actions I wanted from my children. The homeschooling group I was associated with was famous for taking scripture out of context, to get desired results. I was guilty of even doing that – using religion to get the job done. When I read the Bible to my children, I would often point out their shortcomings along the way, as I read about it in the verses, making Bible reading time, a real bummer! I was doing it all from a good heart and a desire to see my children grow up and do the right thing, even follow the Lord. But what they really needed, more than my strict, often berating ways, was a Savior – that, or HE, is the starting point. They needed His love, and that was supposed to be coming through me!!!
I have learned so much through the years and I am encouraging all of you to keep submitting your hearts to the Lord concerning the relationships in your lives. I am still growing in how to love my children (much older now), whether they do what I hope for, or want them to, or not! I am such a work in process and so are they! God has been sooooo patient with me, cutting me so much slack – blessing me with children beyond my expectations – I have never received condemnation from Him. But I am talking to reading about so many who have been hurt by false thinking:
-that perfection in our children can be achieved by us as parents –
-that all ages must obey parents without question – even adult children – or else – the loss of relationship, the blessing!
-that women should submit to husbands at any cost –
-that the ends justifies the means in parenting and other relationships –
-that isolation and shame is a key to getting family members to submit –
-threats of losing the "blessing" – being out from under – God only speaks through "me" for you –
-heavy patriarchal parenting by the father – his mandate – his kingdom – his dominion over wife and children – his way!
We laughed at Mr. Banks, in the movie, Mary Poppins, when he bragged…
Mr. Banks: “I feel a surge of deep satisfaction, much as a king astride his noble steed – thank you. When I return from daily strife, to hearth and wife… How pleasant is the life I lead!…I run my home precisely on schedule. At 6:01, I march through my door. My slippers, sherry, and pipe are due at 6:02. Consistent is the life I lead!…It’s grand to be an Englishman in 1910! King Edward’s on the throne, it’s the age of men! I’m the lord of my castle, the sovereign, the liege! I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife with a firm but gentle hand, noblesse oblige. It’s 6:03, and the heirs to my dominion are scrubbed and tubbed, and added, quickly fed. And so I’ll pat them on the head, and send them off to bed. Ah, lordly is the life I lead!"
…only to discover from his wife, that his children are missing! Hmmm…
…so much teaching scripture out of context – so many isolated verses with no knowledge of what God is really saying…so much "ranting" by preachers, partners, and parents…
…the damage that has been done is devastating and often, life-long. We pride ourselves in being so "pro-life," then snuff the life out of those closest to us, or who may not agree with us. This is an issue for all Christians to grapple with and help each other with. We need each other and that is the way God planned it – the family – the body of Christ – God’s design – walking alongside each other, exhorting, admonishing, and encouraging one another – praying for one another – not abusing each other (physically, emotionally, mentally) to get the desired results.
Keep seeking the Lord and asking Him how to love your family, giving them the guidance and teaching they need. I am not talking about permissive parenting – going from one ditch to the other, but finding the balance that Christ has for us – His Holy Spirit in us, actively leading us into all Truth – that is one of His jobs. I am there, learning alongside of you – continuing to learn how to love teen to adult children, grandchildren thrown in there too – trusting God’s work in their lives. How I long to pass on to all of them a more accurate picture of God and His love – a more biblical way to approach life – a more consistent way to read and know Scripture. I have a long way to go!!
Let’s stay on the journey – and go for it. Paul, after he goes over his credentials, that could make him feel pretty good about himself (like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way”), reminds us in Phil. 3 to…watch out – don’t put confidence in your flesh, even though mine was pretty good – there is nothing greater than knowing Christ! So….(my commentary is in parentheses)
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (not gonna happen), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it (we all are works in process). But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind (great place to start – and he had some big stuff to forget!) and straining toward what is ahead (lean into that finish line), 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things (for the sake of our children, too – we are more mature so we should act like it!). And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you (I can trust in this fact for myself and others – God is able to do this!). 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained (what we know – that is plenty of a challenge!).
17Join with others in following my example…take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ (even religious people, especially religious people!). 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior (the answer for all of us!) from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
God, the truly perfect parent has all kinds of children, with all kinds of issues, and in all degrees of obedience. He absolutely loves all of them in an everlasting way! We are not the magical Mary Poppins, making life one great mystical, magical adventure, and we are not Mr. Banks – in total control – or even Mrs. Banks – clueless. We are parents and partners, making our way through life, with a big and loving God, and like Paul, we are pressing on….