Monday, May 22, 2017

When Children Go Astray, It May Not Be the Parents' Fault

It is a good and godly thing for Christian parents to strive to have a godly home and to raise their children under the restraints of God's Word. Though some parents go overboard at times in their fear that their children will be given over to the world, there should definitely be a difference between worldly homes and those of believers.

Yet, Christian parents may do all they can according to the best of their knowledge, ability, and the grace of God in giving them wisdom in child rearing and still have children who chuck it all out the window when they reach adulthood, sometimes even before then.

Those looking in from the outside will almost always shift the blame to the parents. They were too strict, they were naive, they didn't socialize them enough, and on and on. Whispers, gossip, and slander often abound even among their peer families in the church.

But, one of my favorite preachers of all time, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), says in his message "The Monster Dragged to Light,"

"Another strange thing I have often noticed — as a proof of sin's power to gather poison from the most healthful flowers — is that some transgress all the more because they have been placed under the happy restraints of godliness. Though trained to piety and virtue, they rush into the arms of vice as though it were their mother! As gnats fly at a candle as soon as ever they catch sight of it, so do these infatuated ones dash into evil! Young people who are placed in the Providence of God where no temptations ever assail them — in the midst of holy and quiet homes where the very name of evil scarcely comes — will often fret and worry themselves to get out into what they call 'life' and thrust their souls into the perils of bad company.

"The sons and daughters of Adam long to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their very preservation from temptation grows irksome to them. They loathe the fold and long for the wolf! They think themselves deprived because they have not been born in the midst of licentiousness and tutored in crime. Strange infatuation! And yet many a parent's heart has been broken by this freak of depravity — this reckless lust for evil! The younger son had the best of fathers and yet he could never be quiet until he had gained his independence and had brought himself to beggary in a far country by spending his living with harlots." [emphasis mine]*

No parent is without sin — those who think they are let them cast the first stone! — but there are many Christian parents who have done all they can in good conscience to raise their children in the fear of the Lord only to have them jump ship as soon as they get sight of the shore. For those parents, I hope you will take comfort in Spurgeon's assessment of this reality and stop taking on the false guilt of the Accuser and his minions, both in the world and the church.

If you have a prodigal, never stop praying and looking for their return. If there have been errors or sins in your parenting, confess them to your children and ask their forgiveness. Love them and witness to them as the Lord gives you opportunities, always keeping in mind that the prodigal is actually running away from God and is ultimately accountable to Him. Yet, we are His ambassadors, begging them to be reconciled to Him. While there is life, there is hope.