Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The god of good parenting

In the OT, we see the Israelites condemned for sacrificing their children to deities such as Molech.  But are we really any different?

Certainly, most Christians don’t physically kill their children on the altar of some graven image.  But there are many gods to which we sacrifice the well-being of our children, not the least of which is Convenience.  Baby wakes up in the night crying?  Don’t get up; that child needs to “learn” to self-soothe, to sleep through the night!  Toddler keeps touching off-limits items?  Don't baby-proof; smack his little hand or bottom until he stops reaching for things!  Pre-schooler being "defiant" and expressing her individuality in ways you don't like?  Punish her into non-questioning compliance!

Our children learn about the nature of God through us. 

When we wake in the night with some anxiety and pray, “Lord, I need you!” does God say, “Doggone it!  It’s the middle of the night!  Don’t you remember that you’re supposed to cast all your care on me?  Well, to teach you that lesson, I’m going to be unavailable until daylight.”  Of course not!  When we explore our own beliefs, test God's limits, does our Father thwart our discovery process? Not at all.  When we choose to worship or live in ways that differ from the rest of our religious tribe, does God force us to act a certain way before He accepts and loves us?  Never.

Why, then, do we expect God to bathe us in love and cover us with grace when we do not extend those courtesies to our own flesh and blood?

What happened to "keep us forgiven with You and forgiving of others."? (Matt 6:12)  Or "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own."? (Matt 7:1-3)  Or 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."? (Matt 25:40)

In my own experience, I have tended to make either "good parenting" or myself god when it comes to my children.  And I was willing to sacrifice my children on the altars of Convenience and Selfishness.  What I didn't realize was that in addition to distorting my children's view of God, I was also hurting the very heart of the Savior.

I do well to remember both the first of the Ten Commandments: "No other gods; only me." (Ex 20:3) and the statement "God is love." (1 John 4:8)