Our oldest daughter, Taylor, turned 16 this month. When we look back at our parenting from when she was a newborn to a toddler to now, a lot has changed. I remember whenever her pacifier would drop on the ground, it would get boiled in water before being allowed to go back in her mouth. Similar precautions were made ranging from how cleaning supplies were stored, to outlet covers, and what television shows were sanctioned for viewing. I’m still convinced any aberrant behavior can be traced back to watching too much Teletubbies.
Gradually, as parents, we began to trust the immune system and realized we didn’t need to boil the pacifier. As well, discernment developed regarding the maturity level and what story lines they can handle or what friends to be around. This is all part of the transfer of responsibility between a parent and a child. Our parenting continued to change as our three other daughters were born. I don’t know if we’ve become more relaxed in our parenting because of wisdom or exhaustion.
If we keep everything under lock and key, put a Mr. Yuck sticker on every potentially poisonous substance, and shield our children in the proverbial bubble, they will never develop their own immune response to what can damage them physically or damage their soul. However, there is poison in the world. And I would submit we should even label them as things to hate because of the damage they cause.
I have been wondering if am as conscientious now about the spiritual poison I am allowing into my kid’s lives as I was with keeping cleaning supplies put up and plastic covers over the electrical outlets. Am I careful with the music they listen to, shows they watch, and people they are shaped by?
We would never pour poison on a sandwich and pack it their lunch. But am I doing as much when I allow them to have Macklemore or Pink playing on their iPod? As a parent, I should be training my kids to be haters of actions and attitudes that do them damage physically and spiritually. God is a hater. His love for people stirs hatred toward things that hurt them. Proverbs 6:16-19 outlines seven things that God hates and that are detestable to him. I want to mention two:
Complaining about a person with another person who has no ability or authority to solve the situation is gossip. We call these negative conversations all kinds of things to justify them, from “venting” to “the prayer request”. We must be so careful not to couch gossip with God-talk. That is gross. God hates it. It damages community. It pulls people apart. There is nothing good produced by it.
We should be creating cultures of gossip-haters in our homes. We have to teach and model the worthlessness and destructiveness of gossip towards anyone, but especially gossip within the church. We can’t expect our children to love Christ if badmouthing is allowed toward fellow Christians.
These individuals are not easy to define, but they are poison. Jesus (Matthew 7:15) told us to watch out for them (Matthew 7:15) and Paul told us they will come (Acts 20:29; Romans 16:17-20). I know we must be careful about rashly labeling someone a wolf. To paraphrase Eugene Peterson, the church is made up of a bunch of sinners, led by a bunch of sinners. So a wolf is not simply an imperfect person in our midst. There wouldn’t be anyone left in the church if we drove all those people away.
Two broad definitions I would submit are those that work to hurt people and help Satan. There are those who use the church community to take advantage of people. Satan is a thief. Satan is the father of lies. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Wolves are on the side of the enemy. Those working to bring harm to our kids are wolves. Wolves are people injecting poison into our kids and we should hate them.
If our kids are in poor health physically, emotionally, or spiritually, could the reason be we are not strong enough haters?