Friday, June 17, 2016

The Judgment of Perfect Parents

Image this headline in your Facebook feed: Missing Child: “Mother discovers him missing a day later.” You click on the link and read the story. You feel for the parents of this child. He has been missing for quite a while. No one seems to know of his whereabouts and his parents didn't notice he was missing for a whole day. You decide to read the comments to see what others are saying. Of course you already know what you will find there, maybe you have even thought some of those things yourself. It seems most of the folks commenting on the story are perfect parents. They seem to think very highly of themselves as they assure fellow readers that this could have never happened to their child. They criticize the mother, accusing her of all kinds of things, making assumptions about what happened and declaring she should never be a parent. It seems that child would have been better off in your perfect little abode.

I have seen similar things play out over the last couple of weeks, particularly in three different tragedies. The first was regarding the child who fell into the gorilla exhibit at the zoo in Cincinnati. Almost immediately folks who weren't even there to witness the event and having no idea what actually happened, suddenly became experts in both parenting and gorilla behavior. “What was that mother doing?” “Shame on her for not watching her child!” “I watch my kids and that would have never happened to us.” When I read the story I was thankful the child was ok and I was thankful that my child hadn't climbed into a gorilla exhibit. Either of my children very well could've.

A second story was of a child that was killed by an alligator at a Walt Disney World property. Same old thing. The comments section was filled with remarks by expert parents decrying what was, obviously in their eyes, negligence of the parents. “How could a parent let that happen?” “How does any mother worth her weight in salt allow that to happen?” A mom and dad had just experienced a horrific tragedy and to make matters worse those who see themselves without sin are throwing stones.

A third story was closer to home for me. A foster child in our area drowned in a swimming pool. He had apparently gotten out of the house while his foster mom was sleeping. Now, those expert parents are expert foster parents, sitting at home behind a computer screen or staring at their phone typing away venomous words. On a side note, if those expert foster parents would actually become foster parents there wouldn't be such a tremendous shortage of foster homes, but that's another story.

Any of those things could have happened to me and my children and it could've happened to your home too. Only pride declares otherwise. Instead of throwing stones at the parents when such things happen we should “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Imagine if the time spent commenting venomous and hurtful words on a thread had been spent in prayer for that family who is experiencing unspeakable tragedy. Perhaps instead of rushing to judgment with an air of superiority we should humble ourselves and “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James‬ ‭1:19‬). This is particularly true of professing Christians. We should be the first to respond with humility. We recognize that we too are fallen human beings who have sinned against God countless times and made more mistakes in every arena of life than we could ever number. We recognize our only hope is in Jesus Christ. We have no stones to throw. We know that we are far from what we ought to be, even as Christ is renewing us day by day. We certainly aren't perfect parents. There is only one perfect parent and He is the Heavenly Father, who sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world on our behalf. He lived a sinless life as our substitute and then went to the cross bearing our punishment. He was buried and raised the third day and this Jesus saves all who come to Him by faith. He saves the lost. He makes us children of God. He mends the broken. He comforts the grieving. He loves with infallible love. He sympathizes with those parents who are receiving condemnation. In fact, Jesus was born to an earthly mother, a mother who lost track of him when he was just a boy and didn't recognize he was missing until the next day (Luke 2). And to those perfect parents who may have commented about her parenting fail, remember this, God chose that young lady to be the mother of His only begotten Son.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Few Thoughts About The Public Restroom Debate

            Every once in a while I find myself addressing topics I never imagined addressing. For instance, 10 years ago I never imagined having to address the topic gay “marriage.” However, as our culture continues to deteriorate morally, I find myself in a position of spiritual leadership that requires addressing things that were once unimaginable. Os Guinness noted that ours is “an age of advertising and political correctness that will put up with unbelievable levels of nonsense.” There is no better picture of that than our current debate over the use of public restrooms. Specifically, at issue is whether or not one can reject his or her God-given gender, self-identify as the opposite sex, and then enjoy all of the privileges publicly afforded to the opposite sex, including use of that gender specific restroom.  Those wishing to do so have found a cultural environment ready to champion the cause. Even as I type that out Romans 1 rings in my mind, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. (Rom 1:21-22, ESV).
On the one hand, I am shocked that we are in this position of having these conversations, but on the other I am not because I know what the Bible says about moral depravity. The question becomes how do we, as Bible believing Christians, respond to this? While I certainly cannot give an exhaustive response in this format, let me give you a few thoughts.
First, we should pray for our culture as well as our response to it. I cannot over emphasize the importance of this. Prayer is very key. We should pray both for those who consider themselves transgender, as well as the society that champions that cause. We should pray in a gospel centered way, recognizing that all are individuals every bit as in need of Christ as we. We should pray privately concerning these matters, and we should pray corporately as well. In that, you should make the church’s corporate prayer gatherings a priority in your life.
Second, we should stay in the Word of God. We should not be getting our cues from the culture. The Word of God should inform and dictate what we believe about these things. Paul said in Romans 12 that we are to “abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good.” Good and evil are defined by God and do not change as the culture changes. The culture may call “good” that which God has said is “evil,” but it will always be what God has said. This is one of the reasons we are in constant need of having our minds renewed by the Word of God, so we can discern what is the will of God, what is good (Rms 12:2).
Third, use wisdom when in public. If you are a parent, take your child to the restroom and do not send them there alone. Lots of public places have family restrooms. Take advantage of those when possible. If you find yourself in a situation in which someone claiming to be transgender is in a restroom, make every effort to politely remove yourself from the situation.
Fourth, let your voice be heard. As we have seen, businesses have begun to jump on board with this agenda. It is good to politely express your concerns. Remember, that while it is fine to express that to a local branch of a big retailer, the management of such a store, like Target, receives orders from a corporate office. It may be better to express your concerns in written form, and again politely. Also, it is good to express your concerns with your wallet. Thankfully, we are still in a position to do business elsewhere.
Finally, remember who we are. We are ambassadors of Christ. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are here on mission for Him, to make disciples of all nations. We are to be a people of great optimism. Why? Because even as the cultural climate darkens and becomes more hostile towards us, we know Who wins in the end and we are His!