Last month we looked at the first part of what a dad wrote, and this month we will continue. To recap, we saw what God calls fathers to do in discipling their children. Now we begin evaluating whether/how children should be exposed to the world. This topic was going to be two parts, but it is such a critical subject, it will take longer.
The dad continues: 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 them seeing “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.
This is a problem as old as sin itself. We are to be in the world but not of it (John 17:11-16). We are to live around sin, but not be pulled into it. I believe that one of the most critical aspects of protecting ourselves and our children from the world is for them (and us) to see the dangers of it and how powerful it is. The poor person who feels he is stronger than the pull of sin is a likely victim.
The types of sinful temptations will vary between young men and young women. I couldn’t cover each one, but I think by using one as an illustration you will get the idea in general. So for the sake of example, let’s use men and the lust of the flesh as the basis for discussion.
With that introduction, what do Solomon, a pastor in his fifties, and a young man of twenty have in common? First, they all are men with male hormones. Second, they are all prone to falling prey to the lust of the flesh. Solomon, the wisest man in the world and given that wisdom by God, could not contain his lust. He disobeyed God when he sought wives of different nationalities. His lust brought him down below the level of a twenty-year-old, hormone-driven young man. Of all people, Solomon knew better and should have been faithful to his God, yet he failed miserably.
“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:1-5).
Solomon was a man who heard God speak to him. He was the wisest man on the earth, but Solomon loved many strange women in spite of God telling him not to “go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Yet parents will say, “Your son is an adult now that he is eighteen, and you need to let him go his own way.” Ughhhhh. That may be true if you don’t love him, but if you do, there must be MUCH more that goes into the decision than just how old he is.
You may say, “My son is very spiritually mature, and I have full confidence in him being able to resist moral temptations.” My question for you is, “Do you think your son is more spiritually mature than King David, a man after God’s own heart?” David saw that “. . . the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (2 Samuel 11:2), and in essence, David lusted after her beauty. Oh what danger “we” are in when it is readily accepted among Christians to “appreciate” the beauty of other women. Had David realized the trouble he was in right then and taken action—the sin, the separation, the consequences—most likely, none of these would have happened. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The level of sin we will accept has great bearing on what will be acceptable to our children.
David, the author of most of Psalms, was not spiritually above temptation or failure. So it would appear that just because a man loves the Lord with all his heart and has a heart after God’s, that isn’t enough to keep him from lust, adultery, and murder.
Have you ever heard of a pastor or man in spiritual leadership running away with a young woman and leaving a wife of many years behind? Most everyone has. Could it be that the pastor wasn’t aware of the consequences for such actions? Not likely. Most men in any form of ministry have observed others suffering due to their sin. Don’t they know better? Of course, but once the lust of the flesh kicks in, all reason goes out the door. Likely, this man tolerated an “acceptable” level of lust in his life thinking he could control it without consequences.
Have you seen photos of bomb squad members who were handling explosives in the attempt to disarm them or move them to another location? I imagine the protective gear and shields they use to protect themselves make Goliath’s armor look like a loin cloth. If you think about it, aren’t the bomb squads being overly cautious? When was the last time you heard about a bomb squad having a suspicious item blow up and injure some of them? So why does the bomb squad dress like they do and take all of those precautions? Could it be that they are aware of the serious danger they are in, and they are protecting themselves in the event something were to happen? Their cautions don’t appear to be because they don’t have confidence in themselves or their procedures. Rather, they know that you can’t ever be too careful and that, if something happens, the consequences can be disastrous.
Every man who desires to remain morally pure should have the same attitude of caution that a bomb squad has. The key to acquiring that attitude is understanding what Jesus said in Matthew 15:19: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” In the Greek, the phrase, “For out of the heart,” refers to where these sins originate. Until we lose this body of flesh, we have to come to grips with the fact that we are our own worst enemy. We have to realize what we are capable of because it is bound up in our flesh. We have to understand it isn’t our great wisdom or our lofty spirituality that keeps us out of trouble. It didn’t work for Solomon or David or countless other mighty men that have failed through the ages, and it won’t work for you, our children, or me.
A young man (or father) will not take steps to protect himself if he doesn’t understand what is in his heart and how easily he can fall. If he thinks he is above falling, he doesn’t understand his own heart. I wonder if the main reason many men don’t flee lusts is because they are pleasurable. Could it be like the cute little wolf pup that is found by a man in Alaska? He brings it home, cares for it, and raises it to an adult, only to have it one day suddenly turn on him and kill him. That is one reason why our family doesn’t watch TV. With the programming and commercials that are broadcast these days, television can easily stir up sinful lusts. That is also why we don’t go to movies, many summertime activities, and even the circus any more. They are designed to entertain, but one of the ways they do that is to stir up lust in the men who are watching.
Our children must be taught the depravity of their hearts and not to trifle with sin. Do they have a father who walks as close to the line of sin as possible or a dad who desires to walk as close to the Lord Jesus as possible? I’ve heard some say, “I’m just appreciating her beauty.” But in Proverbs 6:25 we read, “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” Jesus was clear in making the connection between lusting in one’s heart and committing adultery. It is sin. What are we teaching our children by word and example?
If the children see Dad condoning, by his viewing entertainment, the things of the world, we should not be surprised to see them “going nuts” trying to embrace the real thing when they finally have a chance. If sin is not called sin, what is to stop them? If they don’t understand the mighty fire that the flesh contains, will they want to protect themselves?
Our children must be raised in a home where Christ is alive and Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is lived out. They must see that they cannot have confidence in their spiritual maturity or wisdom to keep them from being drawn in by the world. The world “knows” how to stir up a person’s desires and then what to offer to feed those desires. Our children should understand that they are capable of being drawn. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).
How about you? The Lord Jesus sees your heart and knows what goes on there. Are you playing with fire? Have you accepted that which is unacceptable to your Lord? If so, you will likely offer little counsel to your children in helping them avoid being ensnared by the world. Prayerfully ask the Lord these questions until next month when we will continue with this critical topic.