You have surely heard the firestorm of news that involved the Duggar family over the last week. I will not add in this article to the piling on that has been done to them, but want to consider an issue that their story suggests that fits this series.
As for the Duggars, my heart goes out to them. I was not a fan of their show personally, but that is only because I can’t endure reality TV. There is just something about sitting on a couch in my living room watching a family on TV sitting on a couch in their living room that just does not appeal to me. But it was nothing personal, my children loved it, and I had no problem with that.
I have spent a good deal of time talking about this story with my wife, and again, I feel sorry for them. It appears that situations involving minors are a sealed subject by law for everyone else in America, so I don’t get that. A lot of people have said the girls involved are the issue, but in the sloppy way this was told to the extent of revealing victims, the girls have been victimized all over again, so I don’t get that either. There is probably a lot we don’t know, but I wish every story of sin looked so beautifully redeemed 12 years later, so I don’t get that either.
I wish I could believe this really wasn’t about the family taking a stand on homosexuality, but I am struggling not to—there are a lot of rattling skeletons in closets out there, but why the great steps to expose them here? The only point from the other side I see is that in light of this situation it likely would have been a good idea to not do a reality TV show. But it is easy to pontificate after the whole story and its consequences are out, rather than in the caldron of such a family crisis where the way forward might not look so clear. In any event, I am glad the show is off the air so this family can focus on each other and recovery without so much spotlight.
So, how does this story suggest a discussion in this Truth Revolution series that involves the Independent Baptist world? It has to do with all-too-prevalent and erroneous ideas about raising children that too often find a home in our circles. I am in no way an expert in child-rearing. My children are not yet raised. But I can discuss one thing my wife and I have learned on this journey.
We have been told that we can raise our children by a certain formula and it will guarantee results. Some latched on to the Duggars (which is not the fault of the Duggars) as proof it can be done. I really don’t even know if they ever said such a thing, but some did it (and the rest of this article is not about them at all).
The plan for many came to include much sheltering, courtship as the only path to marriage, side hugs, and the first kiss being at the wedding, or some similar variations on the theme. Of course, we all know that there is some level of sheltering in raising children. There must be clear boundaries too. But does that Independent Baptist process guarantee results? Or has the process once again overtaken the goal?
Is the process just an oppressive set of guidelines to be rigidly followed? Or should each set of parents take the matter to the Lord? And do you really believe that was the first kiss at the wedding anyway for many who proclaim it?
And are there any guarantees anyway? My children have free will and a sin nature and that may cause problems. Even worse, me and their mother have a free will and a sin nature as well and often fail to execute parenting even at the level we actually want to, and that will cause problems. I am not always the Daddy I want to be, I do not always live by every principle I believe in, and quite frankly, sometimes I blow it.
If I am not careful, I will only focus on the process, which is oriented to their behavior. That overlooks the other dynamic—my behavior. My children and I are probably pretty equal in behavior that is off. Side hugs alone will not fix that.
My wife and I have grown on our journey to love the idea of realness with our children. Don’t take me wrong, we still have discipline and boundaries, but our own crossing of boundaries is worthy of family discussion too. We put up safeguards, but we can survive if they kiss their prospective spouse before the wedding day. We pray we can teach them what they do need to wait on before marriage. That is, however, a matter of prayer and wait and see. Other parents have been disappointed before and we are not so special, nor have such a great process, that we know we are above things not going as we planned.
That brings us to the biggest truths about raising children. It needs humility and prayer more than a process. If it goes well, it will be the grace of God. Our best bet is to be real, but distinctly Christian, to admit our mistakes as readily as we correct theirs, and to throw them and us on the mercy of the Lord.
We must not teach our children that the process is the way either or we will only throw on them the error of our generation. Thinking that we could focus solely on externals and some how please the Lord has done a number on many of us. Let’s not do that to them, or if they fail, they will have nothing left to do but walk away as damaged goods. That will make them miss the wonder of the grace of God, and what could possibly be worse than that?
There is a reason the Proverbs say, “My son, give me thine heart”. It is the heart, it will always be the heart, and no process can capture a heart. It will take more than that–far more.
Find all articles in the series here.