Teri and I have had our hearts broken to see parents close to finishing the job of raising a child then lose the child to the world. I have to admit that quite a few years ago I actually said, “Homeschooled children don’t have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” From the large group of homeschoolers we interact with, I can’t say that is true anymore. Now my thoughts run this way: “Homeschooled children don’t have to have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” I don’t believe it is a matter of whether you “get a good one or a bad one.” The issue is this: “Dad, what are you doing with what God has entrusted you?”
We continue with this heavy subject (read the previous months here). The topic was originally broached by a father, and we’ve been looking at what he wrote. I’ve copied the last half here again for reference.
What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to letting them see “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now, that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self employment and some kind of family businesses.
Space no longer permits revisiting all we have already covered in previous Corners. However, each piece is critical to our parenting.
I firmly believe that if you do everything else and not this next area we will discuss, your children are at great risk. Please don’t think that I’m exalting my opinion to such a high place that you need to follow it. Read this Corner, and study the Bible passages to which I refer, to see if it is true. May the Holy Spirit confirm in your heart truth.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2). “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).
In verse one, we see that all who don’t enter the sheepfold by the door are thieves and robbers. Then in verse seven we see that Jesus is the Door. The Middle-Eastern shepherd was so concerned about his sheep that after bringing his sheep into the fold for the night, he would sleep in the doorway. The shepherd, literally, became the door. Nothing could get through the doorway that the shepherd didn’t allow. He would give his life for the sheep. Therefore, a thief knew the only other way to get to the sheep was by climbing over the wall. In doing so, he was still likely to be confronted by the shepherd as he entered the fold.
The protection of the sheep was of utmost importance to the shepherd. He would have carefully constructed his fold so that the sheep would be safe. I can picture him building the walls so that nothing could easily steal away those who depended on him for safety. Even though the sheep knew his voice and not the voice of the stranger, he still took great care in protecting them. Was it because he didn’t trust the sheep? Of course not. Scripture says that they knew his voice and wouldn’t follow a stranger. He knew, however, that others presented danger to the sheep.
This example is critical for dads who love their children. We are the shepherds of those God has entrusted to our care. We are to be the door to the family. No one gets by us to our children. Is it because we don’t trust our children? Absolutely not. It isn’t a matter of not trusting our children. Rather, it is a matter of our responsibility to protect them from others.
Recently, a dad was telling me that he didn’t have a problem sending his children off for further training because they had proven themselves trustworthy. Unfortunately, I believe, he is basing the future of his children on his evaluation of their being trustworthy. Their trustworthiness is important, but maybe as important is the issue of WHO they will encounter.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a school or religious organization of stellar credentials. I’m not even assuming there is evil intent on the part of the other person. However, something happens when the right two people get together. Suddenly all logic and self-control are gone. I expect that most have heard of pastors who have become involved in an immoral relationship. Likely those who have been ensnared like this never thought it would happen to them. It is contrary to everything for which they had lived. It is just that they found themselves in a situation that soon was out of control. If it can happen to those who are highly respected and have proven themselves “trustworthy,” then how is it parents think it can’t happen to their young adult children?
Even if the child isn’t “lost to the world,” but only fallen and morally scarred, is it worth the risk? I expect most parents of children that this has happened to don’t even know about it. We have heard many a Christian mom share how she failed when out from under her father’s protection. Might their fathers have done more to protect them? Could it be that their fathers trusted them when they should have protected them?
That is why the shepherd isn’t content knowing that he has his sheep’s “hearts.” He knows there are others out there who may cause him to lose the ones for which he is responsible or who may actually cause them harm. He values his sheep so much that he is not willing to take any chances with them. No matter how confident we are that we have our children’s hearts, they are still flesh and blood. They have to deal with the appetites of the flesh. Is it a matter of trust, or is it a matter of prudence and responsibility?
Remember what Jesus said was in the heart of EVERY person. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). If we ever think our child is strong enough and cannot fall, I believe we have put him in great jeopardy.
Remember the pastors or other people I referred to earlier—the ones in high spiritual positions who ran away in an immoral relationship, often leaving a wife and family? These are people who “had” proven themselves to be of certain moral character and spiritually trustworthy—enough to earn the positions they held. They wouldn’t have been given their positions if others hadn’t had confidence in them. Not only had they given their hearts to their spouses in marriage, but they also had made a covenant before God to be faithful to that spouse. That was not enough to stop them. No matter what explanation is given or what warning signs there were, trust was breached, testimonies blackened, and lives shipwrecked.
Then how is it that, if pastors and others in high spiritual positions fall, parents can so easily “trust” their children putting them at such risk? I challenge you to evaluate whether it is really a matter of trust or value. Teri and I trust each other completely. However, we value our relationship so much we are not going to put it at risk. That is one reason why I don’t have business lunches with women. There are more safeguards that we have put in place, but those are sufficient examples. We believe what Jesus said about the depravity of the human heart and that if we can fall, certainly our children can. May we value our children so much that we take our responsibility to protect them seriously. How is it that parents who have poured out their lives into their children and homeschooled them to protect them from the world will put them in situations where they are at great risk? If they were going to lose their children anyway, wouldn’t it have been much easier on the mother to have sent the children to public school in the first place and spared herself the years of great effort homeschooling them? By putting our children in situations that may lead to their falling, I believe the parents have become their own enemies. Their actions have betrayed their goals. Instead of the father being the door, he has invited the wolf in to spend the night with the sheep. Oh, dads—may it not be!
To prevent any misunderstanding, let me give you some examples. If your desire is that your children would remain pure until they reach the marriage altar, then is it wise that they date or have friends who are dating, and should they spend time with others (of the opposite gender) to whom they may be drawn? Youth groups, ministry projects, short-term mission trips, joining the military, anything that involves young men and young women spending time together will likely stir up emotions. May each of us carefully evaluate the activities are children are involved in as to whether they are consistent with our goals. If you let your young adults participate in any of those activities even while you claim to be committed to courtship, do not be surprised if your children don’t court. We hear too many tragic stories from people who have let their young adult children go down those roads and have experienced great disappointment.
If you don’t want your children to rebel, then is it wise to let your children associate with rebels? Where might you find rebels? Youth groups, friends (even from great “Christian” families), sports teams, vocational technical schools, junior colleges, and colleges (Christian or secular) should all be viewed with great caution. Even if someone uses the word “Christian” to describe the organization, this does not mean that everyone there is a Christian living for the Lord. As the one called to protect our families, may we be able to look our wives in the eyes and say, “God is telling me that I must send my son/daughter there.” If God isn’t telling you clearly, do you really want to send them? Just because everyone else “is doing it” or your son or daughter really wants to, this is no reason to let them. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child . . .” (Proverbs 22:15). Often we hear the excuse that the child REALLY wanted to do something, so the parents let them. Dads, that is no reason. We are the ones who are accountable to the Lord for our decisions. Our children should only do what we are convinced is God’s best for them—nothing less!
Being the “door” is not a very popular position. There will be times when some of the sheep want out, and the door is stopping them. There are other times when a wolf wants in, and the “door” has to mount a defense. However, the Lord didn’t ask us to do it because it is fun. It is our responsibility.
May I encourage you to get alone with your Lord and determine what His goals are for your family. Then critically evaluate your decisions in light of those goals. You may be surprised to see that you have invited Mr. Wolf to spend the night. Evict him before it is too late. May we be the men God has called us to be.