Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey? I’m not. Dannah Gresh sums up my thoughts pretty well. (And if you don’t know what the buzz is about, hop over and read her post. I’d like to keep my blog closer to PG.)
As I’ve listened to the conversation on blogs and Facebook, I’ve found it ironic: In a day when women are supposedly freer than ever before, they are falling all over themselves to read an erotic tale of pain and subjugation. Because no matter how “consensual”, a lifestyle that includes the purposeful bondage and hurt of another is degrading, sinful, and abusive.
We can trust Jesus with our children. If not, it would be a scary time to raise kids. How will they navigate relationships and marriage in a world where books, movies, and one-click porn have made disordered sex mainstream and taught young people to expect and even crave it?
We parents of young ones can’t wait and see. As we trust God, we must also be proactive.
Even before the Fifty Shades phenomenon, I saw parents react to our perverse culture in two radical ways. On one end of the spectrum—admittedly the less popular end—I have seen parents over-shelter their children. I believe this sets their kids up to be victims. In this paradigm, loving parents want to protect their daughters by assuming all-encompassing responsibility for their protection even into adulthood. This results in naïve young women who can’t defend themselves. Also in this paradigm, guys are sometimes emasculated as they rely on rule-keeping and parental involvement to keep them from sexual sin.
On the other end of the spectrum are parents who give their kids no guidance about relationships. The children are left to figure it out on their own. They are discipled by the culture, AKA thrown to the wolves.
I’m certainly not an expert, but I propose that a middle way might be wisest. We should seek to create strong, stable family structures that will shield our kids from the worst of the world. But we should seek to raise our children to be strong individually as well. They are not ours to keep forever.
Here are some questions we might ask ourselves about our kids.
Are my children discerning? Our kids should be trained to spot obvious signs of a predator, but they should cultivate that spiritual sixth sense that says “danger!” Foolproof? No. But important in today’s insidiously deceptive society.
Are they spiritually mature? Are we teaching them to walk closely with God? Do they know God’s Word and recognize ideas that oppose it? Are they “God’s friend,” who can hear his voice? A deep faith and spiritual toughness won’t happen by accident.
Do they have a secure identity? Do they look to anyone—man or woman—for self-worth, or are they fulfilled in their position as God’s child? Do our girls understand that beauty is a gift but it’s not what gives them value? Do our sons understand that manliness isn’t about lust, sexual prowess, and domination, but about being God’s guy and stepping up to the plate to respect women? Does their worth come from performance or from God alone?
Have they received unconditional love at home? Really. Do we parents love them even when they mess up? Do we extend grace as God has extended it to us? Do our kids have to go elsewhere for total acceptance?
Are they both strong and gracious? Scripture tells us to couple truth with grace. In a hostile world, have our kids learned to defend their convictions firmly while seeking to hear, understand, and extend compassion to the other side?
Are they sexually confident? The world SCREAMS to them about sex and relationships. This is no time for parents to be shy. As we teach our kids to make moral choices, they should know what they are saying “no” to and what they are saying “yes” to. Parents should be specific without being inappropriately graphic. Our kids should know that they can ask us anything, because if they can’t ask us they can sure ask Google. You won’t like what they find there.
My children are not grown yet. I might get it wrong. My kids will make poor choices—hopefully not lasting ones. There are no guarantees. But parents, I do know this: God is on our side, and we can’t afford to be passive with our children when there’s a Fifty Shades world ready to devour them. So let’s raise them strong.
How about you? What are you doing to prepare your kids for the world they live in?
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