» I’ve wanted to write about this, but Kevin DeYoung says most everything I would say. My caveat whenever we’re talking about “them” is this: we were all once the enemies of God (Rom 5:10 & 1 Cor 6:9-11) so the “us-them” narrative works more for Pharisees than for Jesus. Still, it’s a good article and I’m very thankful for Kevin DeYoung. What follows are brief opening thoughts on parenting.
» For people serious about God and his word, the greatest challenge of parenting is holding your kids to a standard that you yourself do not keep. Biblical parenting means hypocrisy, it’s unavoidable. People do all sorts of things to escape this tension: they invoke “grace” in a way that really just dismisses the law and wrath of God (usually they feel superior about what cool parents they are); they allow the illusion (this only works when kids are young) that they are keepers and guardians of the law, which leads to an unacknowledged double-life of secret-failure/demanding-
parent; they find a theologically-relaxed church where the focus is not God and his word but self-help, or social issues, or conservative nationalism, or liberal progressivism — some way of dodging or skirting the issue. People will do almost anything to escape the tension of Matt 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
» Better by far to be known to your kids as an entirely devout but humble failure. You believe God yet pray he will help you with your unbelief (Mk 9:24); you have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out (Rom 7:18). So the first time you catch an older child in a more serious sin, and by “older” I mean six or seven, you can say to her or him: “this is my battle, too. Let’s go to God and ask for his strength and forgiveness that we might do all he has called us to.” A six-year-old understands this a lot better than we might think. Your humility, which for some of us is long overdue, will stagger your kids in the best of ways.
» What this does is align and bind you and your child in passion for God and enmity toward sin, while acknowledging that without the grace of God (which you have extended to your child) all would be impossible. You will have kept the standard of the law unblemished, while simultaneously finding hope not in yourself or your own righteousness, but in the strength and righteousness of Christ. In effect you are saying to your kid: “this is a primary, lifelong battle and I’m not above you in it, I’m with you in it.” You will have provided true leadership, not just embittering oversight. Children become deeply bound to parents like this. I know this is my mantra lately, but humility is always far more powerful than the things we imagine to be forceful. When will we take seriously God’s promise to us: he opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble?
» This, by the way, is the reason we trust Paul: he describes himself as the “least of all the saints” (Eph 3:8) and the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). He says those things because he means them. His humility invites us to join him in laying down our lives for Christ, hoping some day to arrive at that place he occupies, where he genuinely thinks little of himself but is entirely committed to the mission. Not a bad paradigm for parenting.