Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bad Influences Corrupt Good Children

Our children are a treasure entrusted to us by God for the purpose of raising in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.  Sadly, this is an area many of us have failed in and it is to our own peril that we do so.  The proof is in the numbers.  More and more of our youth are leaving the church as soon as they can.  This represents a failure on our part for not being the example of Jesus that we are called to be and for allowing bad influences into their lives.  The responsibility for this ultimately falls upon the fathers who fail to be the spiritual leaders of their family.  Accomplices to the crime are friends and family (even Christian ones) who bring bad influences into the life of the child and even stir up their rebellion.  Other accomplices are the influences of the world that we allow into their lives. 
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 NKJV
Being that fathers are primarily responsible, I will address them first.  Ultimately, it is you, father, who will stand before God and give an account as to how you raised the child He entrusted you with.  You can not blame a worldly wife that insisted your children be raised in worldly institutions.  This is not to say that wives as a rule are worldly as, sadly, I know many families where the wife cries out to the Lord for her husband to be the leader he was called to be.  It is something that I have seen happen, though.  This is especially true when women refuse to submit and men are too weak to stand their God-given ground.  Men can also not blame the influences they allow into the life of the child.  That, once again, is your responsibility.  You can also not blame friends and family who are a bad influence on your child as you are also ultimately responsible for the choices you make for those times when you need someone else to watch your child.  You can not blame the internet because, once again, supervision is your responsibility.  It is your calling to model Christ for your child.  It is your responsibility to read the Bible with your child, worship with your child, and pray with your child.  Sunday School or even Christian private grade school should only be supplementary to what you provide at home.  God did not give the responsibility of bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord to teachers, Sunday School teachers, Childrens Pastors, or anyone else.  He gave it to you.  If you are failing in that, it is high time you repented of your irresponsibility and become the man of God you are called to be. 

Now let us address the accomplices to this crime against our children.  First we have the issue of friends and family who you allow to watch or have influence over your child.  Are you selective at all in who watches your child?  I know we are to the extent that we want our children to be safe physically, but what about spiritually?  It breaks my heart when I see the innocence of Christian children slowly stripped away by family members who model the world more than they do Christ.  Are you entrusting your children to someone who going to model the example you are setting for your child or are you entrusting your child to someone who will model the world?  Please never underestimate the pull the world has on a child or anyone else for that matter.  Many Christians have fallen away from the church being led away by the wiles of the world.  Children naturally look up to adult role models and if those role models model the world, those children will develop a desire for the things of the world.  These relatives are usually "fun" and play on a child's natural tendency to rebellion and plays on their desire to want to be more adult.  I know that when I am a parent, many people will be surprised that I would not entrust them to watch my children unsupervised.  I know feelings will be hurt, but my child's spiritual well-being will be more important than the feelings of anyone else.   We must all have that same mind. Is the innocence of your child worth more than the hurt feelings of another who refuses to repent of the sin they will model in front of your child?  I will not allow my children to be alone with someone who will drink, curse, play inappropriate video games with, watch inappropriate movies with, or dress my child in something inappropriate for a child of God.  And if it does happen, that person will not be trusted with my child again.  If my child comes home and knows a word I know I never shared with him or her, if he tells me about a movie no Christian should be watching let alone a child, if my child asks to purchase a certain video game that glorifies graphic violence or sex, or if my child comes home in a beer t-shirt, that person will not be entrusted with my child until I am sure they repented of those actions.  Never underestimate the effect a relative that is a bad influence can have on your child. 

Another thing that family members do is stir up rebellion in our children.  They do it rather innocently and it is almost something we have come to expect.  We all know of aunts and uncles and grandparents who allow our children to do things that their parents do not allow.  The intent is usually rather innocent, but its effect is far from it.  If you are watching a child and you disagree that a parent may disallow something for safety or spiritual reasons, it is not for you to change that rule. What you are doing is fostering rebellion in that child.  That child knows his father does not allow something, but by you allowing it (knowing the father does not), you are teaching that child that his or her father can be disobeyed.  You are also (whether you intend to or not) teaching that you have authority over the father when it comes to raising that child.  You have no such authority.  Furthermore, you have no right under God to go against a father's wishes for what his child is allowed to do.  If you can not follow the father's rules, you should not agree to watch the child.  As for fathers (or even mothers who knowingly allow it), please understand the ramifications of what you are teaching your child.  You are teaching that his father's rules can be disobeyed or disagreed with.  You are teaching your child that rebellion is just fine as long as another adult says so.  If you disagree with a father, the response is to talk to the father and respect his decision and not just disobey his rules. 

And, finally, we have the influences we allow into the life of our child.  Sadly, there is very little that is safe anymore.  I know many Christians who do not even have a television in their house, and probably for very good reason.  Even so-called children's shows touch on adult themes such as child "romance", inappropriate dress, and rebellion against parents.  And do not eve get me started on regular prime time or even day time television which glorifies sex and dysfunctional families at every turn.  Homosexuality is even becoming more and more promoted on television and it is only a matter of time before that transcends to childrens television.  It is already in our schools and childrens books.  Getting past television, what about radio? What can be wrong with allowing your child to even listen to top 40 radio.  I am not even talking about rock or rap.  Look at what songs are top 40 today.  They in large part glorify fornication, drinking, partying, rebellion, and drugs.  Even country, which is for some reason often associated as Christian, is becoming more and more sexualized and it has always glorified alcohol.  There is no safe secular radio for children.  What about school?  Can we trust our children in public school?  Even Christian parents who unfortunately keep their children in public school admit what a terrible influence it is on their children.  I do not see how any parent keeps their children in that kind of environment.  I know may parents are intimidated by the idea of home schooling (which I believe is the best option), but there are other Christian options.  If parents can not afford their children to be in at the very least a solid Christian school, then shame on us for not coming together and helping them pay for it.   And, finally, there is the internet.  Any parent who does not supervise their child on the internet is playing with disaster.  More than playing with it, they are inviting it.  The internet is a portal to unimaginable dangers to our children.  There are porn sites and predators around every corner.  Even innocent Google searches come with with many not so innocent sites. Even childrens websites are filled with predators just hoping to meet your child. 

Fathers, take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of your children.  Take control of what influences are allowed into their lives and be a good influence for Christ yourself.  I have dealt with many troubled youth and what most of them were missing was a good fatherly influence.  You have no idea how important you are to the spiritual upbringing in Christ.  You need to teach and model Jesus in all that you do.  You need to be sure that your witness to your child is not undermined by the influences you allow into their lives.  And the rest of us, we need to support those fathers.  They have enough to deal with in the constant war with the world for the hearts and souls of their children.  We need to support them as their friends and not undermine them as their enemy.  One day children will take the torch from us and take the lead in sharing Jesus to the world.  The training for that begins now. 
Children's children [are] the crown of old men, And the glory of children [is] their father.  Proverbs 17:6 NKJV

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