I happened upon an article at DesiringGod.org called “Why require unregenerate children to be good?” This is a good topic for discussion, and I thought the answer was substantive.
I regularly feel the tension of responding to my children who do not make a profession of faith. I tell them to display the fruit of the spirit: love joy peace… patience, and so on. But my theology says that unsaved children don’t have genuine fruit of the spirit, any more than an unsaved adult. Thus, it does feel like I’m inducing my children to be hypocrites when they follow the motions of Christianity without testimony or evidence of regeneration. Or does it?
I do believe it is good and right to require unregenerate children to be good, but that does give me more questions. Those we’ll have to consider another day.
Very interesting indeed!
You’re leaving me in limbo here! Just food for thought…we still expect unregenerate adults to obey the laws of the land, so should we just expect our unregenerate kids to obey the laws of the home, or just the laws of the land…(I’m assuming they are slightly different). For example, in our home it’s against the rules to steal, attack others physically, cheat, etc. just like the laws of the land. But we ALSO have rules such as loving each other, sharing with each other, and forgiving each other…not exactly laws of the land. The question then becomes, SHOULD we enforce those laws that exhibit the fruits of the spirit, or just encourage them? In some ways it comes down to the dilemma between outward obedience and “heart” obedience. Hypocrisy doesn’t just apply to being Christian. ooooh, I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this!
Barbara H. says
Sometimes it is the realization that we can’t “be good,” that we can’t meet the requirements upon us, that drive us to realize our sinfulness and our need in Christ. I think both the instructions and the requirements we place upon our children prepare them for the gospel and help them once they do believe in the gospel.
I’ve heard this before, and I think you’re right, Barbara. But I’ve yet to see this in my children. I feel the tension, but I’m not sure they understand it yet.