We’ve all known that type of parent, the one who wants to be accepted by one of his or her children. The cool parent. The permissive parent. This is the person who takes pride in letting his or her children do whatever they wish. Supposedly, this makes them better adults. In reality, it makes them juvenile delinquents (even when they become adults), as they never learn the option of adulthood through parents who themselves never really grow up.
But there is a spiritual version of the permissive parent who believes that to set spiritual boundaries on beliefs is too restricting, and hence, just desires that his or her child chooses whatever he or she sees as best for him. I call this the hippy philosophy of parenting. Hippies had free love, free lifestyles, and free religion. Of course, in the real world, nothing is for free. My generation (and those after me) paid (and continue to pay) dearly for the hippy philosophy of life. But that is for another post.
What I’m most interested in talking about today is the philosophy of parenting that came out of the 60’s infatuation with postmodern philosophy. In postmodern thought, the truth must be experienced subjectively. It cannot have any boundaries placed upon it by an external authority. Authorities are bad because they all seek to oppress the free spirit of another by imposing control over it. There is no truth that can be known. Such truth is just a made up vehicle for control. It’s the stuff of empires. The free spirit must escape from all external authorities and pursue its own desires in life. You can have like-minded friends who realize this truth (yes, the self defeater is evident), but you can’t trust those who are not (hence, anyone over thirty, or who is not bathed in postmodern indoctrination).
From this comes the philosophy below:
“We don’t impose our religious beliefs upon our children. We just want them to find their own path. We trust that they will do well in life if they just follow their hearts along their own journey. Hence, we want them to be open to a variety of options and choose for themselves.”
Now, there is so much anti-Christian philosophy in that one paragraph that I don’t think I can unpack all of it here, but this idea should definitely never be held by a professed Christian. For one, it assumes that children are not born in the curse, but will be guided by God to their own experience of the truth. Second, it assumes that their minds and hearts are pure enough to recognize God’s guidance versus the devil’s (or just the destructive culture’s from a naturalistic standpoint) even if He did guide them. Third, it assumes that the goal in raising children in a family is to give them freedom to believe and become whatever they wish, since their desires are pure, rather than to exalt and glorify God among wayward sinners (i.e., ourselves and our children) through saturating our lives as parents with His presence through Word and prayer. Hence, showing that our lives, not just our children’s are about God, rather than what we, as wicked people, want to selfishly pursue in life.
But the thing I find most offensive is the idea that the hippy philosophy of parenting somehow gives children greater freedom to choose than saturating one’s home with the Word of God. You see, in the hippy view, that’s forcing religion on your children. It’s brainwashing them, so that they don’t have a choice.
The irony of the hippy philosophy, however, is that it actually is more oppressive and predetermines what children will believe, as opposed to the biblical mandate to saturate one’s home with the Word of God. Why do I say this? Because the person who does not saturate his or her home with the Word of God does nothing to combat the demonic philosophy of the culture. Even if you don’t believe the devil is working hard to indoctrinate your children through cultural philosophies, those cultural philosophies themselves exist to indoctrinate them so that they believe a certain way, and not another. The world is not a neutral place, where you can just pick your beliefs. This may be true of secondary beliefs, but not primary ones (i.e., the ones that govern all other beliefs and actually run your life). The idea that the world is some buffet of ideas that are not already being forced down your children's throats is naïve at best.
In other words, rather than give children a choice, it enslaves them to the culture. It predetermines their fate. They will have no choice now but to believe whatever idea is most desirable within our culture. Right or wrong, it is their sealed fate. They are stuck. This parental philosophy has seen to it that they remain so. Cultural ideas are like the chain that binds us. Why would leaving your children chained to a wall give them a greater choice? Isn’t it obvious that handing them bolt cutters (i.e., that which works contrary to the chain) gives them the choice to live with or without it? The culture will indoctrinate your children through every means possible. If you are not busy saturating your children with biblical truth, the devil is and will be busy saturating them with lies; and if you continue to do nothing about it, you rob them of making a choice. You rob them of their freedom. You ensure their oppression by an external authority that they cannot even choose.
Let me ask you something. Would you let someone put multiple glasses of poison in front of your children and not try and persuade them to drink a glass of water by putting one continually before the others? How is it giving them greater freedom by limiting their options to just the poison?
You see, in the biblical mandate, the devil is working hard at all times to saturate our lives with what is false. Hence, working hard to saturate your life with the Word of God that runs counter to his philosophies, is never oppressive or a brainwashing indoctrination, because the two are always presented. But hippy parenting, ironically, takes out one of these options, so it can be described as nothing but a brainwashing indoctrination of their children.
Nor can it rectify this by just running down different options of thought with the child in the way one reads off a grocery list. Christian beliefs are beliefs that are only fully realized and understood through their transformation of life. Hence, it is only by a lifestyle through which biblical truths are lived out on a daily basis that the option is presented to the child. You can describe Christianity as a foreign religion to your daily living, but if you live like an atheist, then the child is bound to be an atheist. If you are a postmodern relativist, then so shall your child be. In other words, if you live out the philosophies of your culture, then the philosophies of culture is the only choice your child has to live out himself. Christianity, if it is to function as a real choice, must be presented through its totality of beliefs and lifestyle, in the daily presence of God through His Word, in the same way that the devil presents to us all of his cultural philosophies.
Now, of course, no one can make his or her child become a Christian. Children must take what they have been given and choose once they are capable of doing so. Allison and I never asked our children to pray a prayer of salvation or to be baptized. They have all come to us to ask us if they could. My children asked me for a Bible of their own. They choose freely of their own accord, and they will again need to choose as they walk out into the world and their beliefs are tested as either being real or something they chose just because they knew Mom and Dad would be proud.
But that’s the thing. They will get a choice. They’re fates are not sealed by us. The world screams with its many voices into their lives and we try to scream equally as loud. And because of sin, we often are two of the voices of the world’s philosophies ourselves, which makes it all the more important to let God speak through His counter-cultural Word.
So the hippy philosophy of parenting is the dumbest philosophy of parenting I’ve ever heard, not only because it’s filled with false doctrine, a lack of belief of God’s Word on part of the supposed Christian parents, and it’s emphasis on the child over the exaltation of God, but mainly because it accomplishes the exact opposite of what it claims to accomplish. Instead, it leaves children in the dark with no way out, and I can think of nothing more evil than a parent entrusted by God to provide light to his or her child who smothers it in the name of a philosophy in which he or she was brainlessly indoctrinated themselves.
Teaching our children God’s Word will not save them from the philosophies of the world. They must choose to go that direction (and by God’s grace I pray with all of my heart that they do). But I will not be the passive instrument in the hands of the devil of my own children’s destruction. The only way to ensure that I am not is to let God speak anywhere and everywhere, from the rising to the setting of the sun, and allow God to use me as much, if not more so, of an instrument in their salvation as the devil seeks to use me in their damnation. To do anything less, God forbid, is to be the destroyer of our own children. May the hippy philosophy of life never be confused as a philosophy of good parenting. And whether we eat or drink, or in whatever we do, may we glorify God in the hope that our children will one day do the same.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord [is] one! "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:5–9)