the blog in which I sort of apologize to Evangelical parents…

I can’t help but wonder why, as a kid who strayed (to use the Christianese term) from Jesus, the prototypical Evangelical create-good-kids model isn’t working. Parents who sincerely thought that if they followed all of James Dobson’s advice would end up with adult children who never slept around, got drunk, partied, dropped out of school, or worse. There were so many parents who did everything right – no tv, no public school, daily family devotions, spanking instead of timeout – but didn’t get the desired or promised outcome.

At first, I assumed that it was the Evangelical parents, kids/youth pastors who screwed up but now I realize that they were just doing what they were told by the so-called experts would work. Now I sit here at a crossroads, wondering how to help my son avoid all the sins I committed and all the mess I made.

Success always and only comes back to Jesus. I don’t care if my son has tattoos from the scalp down, smokes a pack a day, curses like a sailor and works at a bar so long as Jesus saves him. I don’t care if Jesus saves him when he’s 4 or 45 so long as it happens. I don’t care if my son knows every sin I’ve ever committed, so long as he knows that the only reason I was saved from it was the Cross.

I’m not after good behavior – a wholesome, clean cut, moral child. I’m after Jesus finding my son and my son finding salvation. I’m not after a leaving a good impression, I’m after a son who knows that Jesus Christ died to save sinners of whom his mom is chief. I’m not trying to prove to my son that I’m a moral person, I’m trying to prove to him that without Jesus I would be a lost cause. I’m not going to try to hide my sin from my son, because my confessed and repented-of sin serves to glorify a loving savior.

The idea that salvation starts with us (accepting Jesus) and is maintained by us (performing good, moral deeds) and can be ended by us (if we choose to abandon Christ) is not one that will be taught in our house. I’m sure a lot of people will argue that it’s good theology and that we all have free will (heh) but arguments aside, I do not think that it’s helpful or glorifying to Christ when we teach children (or adults!) that our salvation is wholly contingent upon ourselves, our whims and our decisions.

So often in life we look for shortcuts and 10 step plans. I guess my plan is to daily try and discover who my kid is and then pray like mad that we can parent him well. Not a one-size-fits-all, “live up to my expectations or I’ll be devastated and embarrassed” assumption on his character. The only thing I know for sure is that Dillinger has a sin nature and whether he goes to public school or grows up in a cave filled with Bibles and ammo, that will not change. I don’t know when Jesus will save our son, but his exposure to the world does not have any bearing on that timing. All I want is for it to happen and then I will be content.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “the blog in which I sort of apologize to Evangelical parents…

  1. lisadilley

    I think you hit it on the head with “discover who they are and pray like mad…” Of course, you will be devastated and embarrassed when they don’t live up to your expectations, but reading between the lines I think you realize that that is your problem, not theirs. :)

    In my 11 years of parenting so far it has never even been feasible for me to pretend I have it all together. It appears to be the case that learning to function in the midst of personal and moral disappointment tempered with hope and grace is helping my kids to grow into gracious and generous adults. I hope. Still praying like crazy.

  2. Carlos Hoyer

    LOVE THIS!!!!!

  3. One of the best things you’ve ever written! D is so very fortunate. You will be a wonderful parent.

  4. diane

    I totally agree with your words. I am so grateful that my salvation is based on the saving grace of Christ and not on my works or anything else I strive for. I thank God everyday that he has kept my family in his heart even when we stray or forget him. I do think that we should do good works not because our salvation depends on it but because we love Jesus and want to express our love for him by sharing our talents and love.

  5. Tori I love this post. This evangelical mindset that I was raised in makes me nervous to raise kids. First because I know my nature is to follow suite, and second because I know the most important thing is what you said; know themselves and pray! Love this post!

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