You know, I’ve been thinking (and that’s dangerous…:), we all have appetites. As Christians we have two natures or appetites. One appetite is for the things of God or the Spirit, while the other is for sinful things or the flesh. These appetites are at battle within our minds and the minds of our children. They are like two dogs fighting against one another.
Whatever appetite or dog we feed becomes the strongest. If we feed the sinful dog things like questionable movies, TV shows, music and video games, that dog, the flesh, will grow and dominate the other. If we feed the spiritual dog things like Bible teaching, Scripture memory, wholesome TV, movies and music, good books, adult interaction and conversation, etc. the spirit will grow.
Sometimes we feed the fleshly appetites in our children unknowingly. We can dress our daughters in cute revealing outfits when they are young and feed the appetite of immodesty in our teen girls. A short skirt on an 8-year-old might look cute, but on a 16-year-old it sends much different signals. So, why put it on the 8-year-old in the first place? We can encourage and allow violent video games for our boys to play and feed the appetite of rage and violence that leads to lawlessness. We can tell the 4th graders that are “in love” that it is ok to sit holding hands together. But, those 4th graders grow up to get their license and drive cars and the hand holding that has been allowed for years steadily grows to feed the lust of promiscuous relationships during the teen years. In the book Family Driven Faith, Dr. Voddie Baucham describes the problem. Writes Baucham (Voddie Baucham, Family Driven Faith, p. 21):
“Modern American dating is no more than glorified divorce practice. Young people are learning how to give themselves away in exclusive, romantic, highly committed (at times sexual) relationships, only to break up and do it all over again. God never intended for His kids to live like this. And instead of stepping in and doing something, many Christian parents, simply view these types of relationships as a normal and necessary part of growing up. Unless your child is wiser than Solomon, stronger than Samson, and more godly than David (all of whom sinned sexually), they are susceptible to sexual sin, and these premature relationships serve as open invitations.”
Things that seem harmless for children when they are young will most often grow into big, hungry dogs in older years. We must understand that God knows exactly whom our child’s husband or wife is going to be. If he is all-knowing, and he is, then we must trust that he will orchestrate the circumstances to bring them together. We, nor our children, need to do this for God. He is more than capable. Being involved in exclusive relationships before you are ready to be married is like going shopping without any money. Doing so will leave you frustrated, or you will take something that doesn’t belong to you. We must pray for God’s discernment that we do not feed the wrong dog in our children concerning relationships with the opposite sex. Whatever we allow in moderation, they will take to excess.
Feeding the good in our children may mean cutting back in some areas that aren’t necessarily bad. We may have to come to the point that we are willing to sacrifice the good so that we may have the best for our children. This may require us to have some difficult conversations with our children. For instance, it may mean explaining that the goal of raising them to be a disciple of Christ will require cutting back on extra-curricular activities. Believe me, this is where it gets hard. If you have raised your child on a steady diet of activities, sports, hobbies, lessons, etc. outside the home, and you begin curtailing those activities, they will most likely balk.
But if we are going to train young people to be mature, Christ-following adults, we will have to do the hard things and make that investment. Ultimately the goal is to see that our children and grandchildren are with us in Heaven? So, we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven…and isn’t the greatest treasure our very own children?