I will never forget the mom and professional church worker who told me she hoped her sons and daughters would practice safe sex. We were serving together on a life task force and, during lunch break, she confided, “I raised them to be chaste … I want them to wait for marriage. But, once they started college, I encouraged them to use protection because, after all, they’re sexual, too, and I’m scared to death they’re going to be like everyone else.”
I remember the grandma who toured our local pregnancy center. She thought the best thing parents could do for their daughters was to get them on The Pill so they wouldn’t need a pregnancy test.
Then there was the single father who raised his daughter to believe in Jesus, but made sure she had the Gardasil shot and was using birth control. “I know what I was like at her age and I know she’s just going to sleep around so I have to look out for her.”
And there was the pastor who told me that he’s taken some girls from his congregation for abortions because “their parents wouldn’t be supportive of an unplanned pregnancy.” These girls are “just going to do it,” he explained. “They can’t help it … so I need to be there for them.”
Can’t help it? What does this say about the way adults view children?
Children are sinful human beings born into a love-to-sin-world. Do we say, “My child is a sinner. It’s just who he is, so I’m going to help him lie, cheat, and steal with the least amount of damage.” Is this how God sees children? Is this how He helps them?
When we don’t see children the way God does, then our mentoring role in their lives is compromised.
Yes, children are sinful—just like their parents and grandparents. But baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God sees us as His adopted sons and daughters in Christ. Jesus won for God’s children the privilege of becoming heirs of the heavenly kingdom. This not only bestows value but defines purpose.
Identity matters! Our sons and daughters are not “sexual from birth” as Planned Parenthood sees them. They are not captive to instincts and desires. They are persons created more in the image of God than the image of wolves and rabbits. To see children as God does is to realize they are more than flesh and blood but spirit and, because they are spirit, every choice they make will take them either closer to—or farther from—God.
It is the children who suffer when we fail to see them as God does. Expectations for their purpose and behavior are lowered. Their future appears grim.
Identity matters. And, because it does, my grandchildren need me to remind them of what happened at the baptismal font. Their baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:21b-22). I can literally tell my grandchildren that their Lord and Savior rules! This means that someday, when they are teenagers, they won’t have to be subject to raging hormones or made foolish by lack of judgment. In remembering who they are, they will know the source of their wisdom and strength. This will affect their choices and behavior. But that’s not all.
When boys and girls see themselves the way God does, the way they view each other will improve. Relationships will take on new meaning. Think about it. If boys see themselves in light of their baptism as sons of God and girls see themselves as daughters of God, then all baptized people become brothers and sisters in Christ.
Can you imagine? I mean, really! Can you imagine the impact this would have on high school and college campuses, at the beach, in the workplace, around the neighborhood, and for society as a whole?
I can. And it renews my hope.