A Permissive Society Resembled in Permissive Parenting

Our daughter was home recently for her final winter break from year two at university. She said friends asked how Christianity could claim to be the correct faith or religion.

We’re instructed to be prepared to give an answer for the faith we hold (1 Peter 3:15). So I reminded her of some things she’d learned before.

The ultimate example came from C.S. Lewis. He emphasized that grace makes Christianity unique. All other faiths require specific actions and measures to earn rewards or salvation, whereas Christ paid it all for us in dying as a sacrifice for our sins to be forgiven.

I repeated earlier teachings about our God coming to earth to live among his creatures, existing sinless and perfect. Although a few religions also have stories of earthly gods, the difference with our God is that He is the God of relationships, knowing what it was like to live in unity and diversity in eternity past (as taught often by Ravi Zacharias).

Christianity’s “triune” God may have mysterious aspects, but the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in community timelessly is without comparison.

The Bible even claims that no one is without excuse for not accepting these truths. The coherence of Christianity is fully evident with sincere, rigorous study of special revelation in Scripture. General revelation of God is obvious in nature:

Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Psalms 14:1a.  Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

So What?

Even with solid answers, and possibly open-minded questioners, why is it much harder for our young adults to defend and MAINTAIN a faith they acquired in childhood and youth?

Ravi Zacharias comments that a “rabid skepticism” is prevalent amongst young people. Why?

This isn’t the venue for debating whether we still live in a postmodern society, and what postmodernism even means. However we must agree that we continue to live amongst highly “relativistic” attitudes, which generally characterize postmodern thought. The Encarta Dictionary defines relativism as:

the belief that concepts such as right and wrong, goodness and badness, or truth and falsehood are not absolute but change from culture to culture and situation to situation.

The prevailing attitude continues to be that whatever is right for you is right for you and therefore fine with me. Anyone who wants to identify wrong, badness, or falsehood is considered to be intolerant, bigoted, hypocritical, and unloving, even if they are identifying a behavior and not an individual, and even if their intentions are to save others from lives of delusion, bondage, or disaster.

Here’s where simple and rational thought can illustrate our present human condition. Most would agree that permissive parenting is unloving because of its consequences. Consistent permissive parenting produces children that are hopelessly lazy, self-entitled, self-absorbed, selfish, self-centered, self-delusional…I suppose narcissistic would cover it.

However, a consistently loving parent displays the heart and tenacity to set wise standards, identify right and wrong, provide strict guidance, stay true to his/her word (although able to admit being wrong and to say sorry), convey traditions and heritage, deny oneself, do the hard things, and deliver consistent consequences. A little deprivation and denial would also go a long way.

This produces children who are hard-working, disciplined, confident, generous, selfless, modest, respectful, ethical, and loving.

Do we see any parallels between parenting and society?

It should be obvious that truly loving people are willing to courageously proclaim truth and right and wrong. They truly show love by seeking what is best for humanity, not by being permissive. They are the furthest example from being intolerant or hypocritical.

They’re actually the consistent, the loving, and the concerned. On the other hand, it’s easy and unloving to say anything goes. Permissiveness breeds a narcissistic and lost society.

No wonder it’s difficult for young people to hold onto their faith. We’re living in a society that’s an illusion of the life that God intends for His people.

Children of faith are judged harshly and called hypocrites and bigots if they hold to certain truths and ethics (where’s the tolerance there by the way?). It’s a twisted and delusional society where the courageous, upstanding, tolerant, and loving are called hypocrites, and the permissive, loud, irrational, and illogical are considered loving, tolerant, and enlightened.

I once had a professor state that postmodernism is just a blip. That it’s too ridiculous to sustain itself. That having no absolute truths is just so irrational and illogical that civilization will collapse.

There seems to be no stopping the momentum of relativism. Hold on tight to your faith and ethical standards. Pray for your children to hold theirs…or that collapse might be near.

It might be a necessary collapse that truly and authentically brings people to God (unlike the 9-1-1 Trade Tower disaster that briefly sent many people on a spiritual search). The stuff and flimsy foundations of today would prove to be inconsequential and grave miscalculations.

 

As a parent, deliver truth and standards in a loving and firm manner. Pray that your children follow your wise lead and counsel. Hold to your convictions in a society that struggles to have any, other than allowing everything.
  • What are your observations regarding parenting and society?
  • What do you see as the answer to the narcissistic human condition? Or do you disagree?
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8 thoughts on “A Permissive Society Resembled in Permissive Parenting

  • Not all of Christianity is on the same page and that makes it harder for outsiders to welcome it. Some churches teach that God is in control of everything, down to who does and who doesn’t believe, he hardens the hearts of some and sends them to Hell because they were not predestined to be elect – or among the saved. Others believe that God wants to save everyone and don’t see how the threat of Hell fits with his goodness and loving kindness.
    For me, it’s the legalistic teachings; like the authority of the husband and the submission of the wife having been the major teaching of the church over the last three decades has left me marginalized because as a single childless individual, I’m nothing. In a world of blogs all about parents and their babies; I don’t seem to fit in.

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    • Yes your experience and view should point us to our failings as followers of Jesus. When you point out teachings, I really like to attempt to hold to what Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute emphasizes: “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.” We certainly have mixed success with the charity part, but it’s quite sad when we don’t demonstrate charity because of nonessential issues. The main part to remember is that Christ never failed any of us. We must press on to be more Christ-like. Unity and charity in Christ.

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      • The problem is that there is confusion as to what’s essential. Walk through it backward: a husband’s headship over his wife is a parallel of Christ’s authority over the church. Christ’s atonement paid in full the wages of sin and reversed the curse so that death lost it’s sting. A side-effect is that he restored the headship of husbands over their wives to the pre-fall design God perfected in the Garden; it’s also a picture of Biblical marriage, between one man and one woman. So anyone who has a problem with the marriage-centric focus of Christianity must hate the bride-groom and kinsman-redeemer of the faithful remnant of humanity, the bride of Christ, the Church. So all believers must uphold and honor marriage; preferably in a married state. To them, singles are not living out the gospel because they are either Christ with no church, or a church with no Christ.

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  • I agree with your thoughts completely here. It’s HARD to stay ahead of this! I feel like giving up sometimes because our culture and influence of society is so strong right now. Praying helps. I know God will honor and help those who try to be intentional in their parenting and pass their wisdoms and faith on to their children. My goal is to break the generational sin that exists so strongly in my family. This has resulted in complete rejection and criticism of my authenticity as a Christian. This hurts, but I believe standing up for what is right and good in Gods eyes is better than conforming for comfort here. Lots to think about here. Thank you for sharing this!

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  • I can see your line of reasoning with this principle, however I am sure you are aware of Paul’s writings to unmarried people in 1 Corinthians 7:25-35, of its goodness and benefits (NLT 32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.)
    So I would concede that the married segment of the church has not been sensitive (or shown charity) to their unmarried brothers and sisters in Christ, whether unintentionally or thoughtlessly (much of the church was insensitive to my divorced mom…of an adulterous husband). But I honestly haven’t witnessed the attitude or belief that singles are not living out the gospel. Again I believe love or lack thereof is the issue…this shouldn’t be an essential that divides.

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  • LOVE Ravi Zacharias. We’ve listened to his podcasts for over 10 years.
    This is a great post. Parenting properly takes such intent, but as we see millennials getting raised by Gen X (and now having kids – my daughter has 2 friends due this year!), we have to wonder what society will look like 20 years from now as even more moral relativism becomes the norm.

    Hallee

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