We are all familiar with the warnings that are written to parents about the need to counter the American culture with our kids. Cell phones, gaming, clothing styles, piercings, tattoos, parties, friend’s, and the amount of freedom we give all come under scrutiny as we try to raise Christian kids in a culture that sometimes goes against the truth of scripture.
As I was giving this some thought, it occurred to me that sometimes we need to counter the culture to which we have become accustomed. The things we sometimes take as truths that if we really thought deeply about them we might see things from a different perspective.
Many times as parents we automatically think that what was right for us as kids is how we should parent our kids. If our parents gave a certain amount of freedom in an area then we automatically do the same without thought to the different world our kids live in today. If we went to public school, or private school, or we home schooled then we’ll most likely do the same without thought to what might be best for our child. If we grew up with “the teacher knows best” or “the rule is the rule”, we might not consider that there is a better alternative.
My point here is that sometimes the culture we need to counter might be within our own families of origin and the things we’ve come to believe. I’ve talked to many parents who have chosen to counter the culture in which they grew up–sometimes to the frustration and verbal outcry of their parents. I’ve even witnessed grandparents who have tried to bribe their grandchildren into trying to talk parents into doing things the way they think the grandchildren should be raised. Countering the culture might be standing firm on what you feel God is calling you to do as you raise the children in which he has entrusted you.
Another area we might consider is countering the culture of the church in which we attend. I know that I’ll probably get some push back here, but hear me out. Sometimes there is an underlying culture even within the church that is not accepting of parenting decisions other than what the body (or the loudest person) thinks is right. If as a parent you feel shamed, or held to a standard that doesn’t seem right for your child, it might be time to take a stand or leave. I’ve seen church environments that can impact our teens negatively because the rules (sometimes unspoken) have precedent over the relationship. Are your kids being loved, nurtured, listened to, and encouraged to serve as a member of the body of Christ? If not, it might be time to counter the culture.
A book entitled Start With Amen: How I learned to Surrender by Keeping the End in Mind by Beth Guckenberger shares a story about the boldness we need as Christians to counter the culture. When Beth came home as a teen to announce that she needed to quit her job at a local video store because they were renting pornographic videos, her dad’s response was (pg. 166),
“So that’s it?” my dad challenged me. “As Christians, when we see something we don’t agree with, we just run away?”
I looked at him questioningly. “Set apart, holy?”
He fired back, “Salt, light?”
“If you feel God telling you to leave, obey him. But in the absence of that, I would say you might be there for a reason…I am just a customer of the store, with an option to boycott. You are an employee with tremendous power to make a difference. Instead of thinking of what you can say, why don’t you see what you can do?”
If only each of us as parents could be bold enough to listen to what God is saying and encourage our children in similar fashion to boldly counter whatever culture we live. Are we parenting out of fear or parenting to make a change in the world around us?
I’ll admit, as a parent my first instinct would have been to ask my child to quit working at the video store. It would be safer. It would have calmed a fear that I am sure would have risen up within me. Depending on the temperament or the age of my child, I might have seen the scenario very differently than this father, but oh my, his response feels like holy ground as I think about how he views the world in light of eternity.
Maybe as parents countering the culture might mean that we parent with the end in mind rather than the present circumstances.
Scripture tells us how.
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Dare you to look at the culture surrounding your family and listen to His voice rather than the voices of others.
“Let go…and Let God”,
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