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.”
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?