WHO: To a certain youth pastor
WHAT: Another letter
WHEN: A long time ago
WHERE: Another church
Our sons were so pleased to have you speak at their school. Thank you so very much for giving your time and bringing a word from our Lord the students.
Thanks also for your Communiques. It's great to know how to plan and what to pray about. We also appreciate the insights into your thoughts and ministry as you share them monthly. One aspect of your recent letter however, although quite graciously and gently stated, caused us some concern.
You indicated that you think it might be appropriate for parents to cease requiring their children's attendance at the corporate worship at some point in time. You even verbalized this to the teenagers in the Sunday class. We don't believe this perspective is of the Lord, and we humbly hope to show you another viewpoint.
1. The Lord has pointedly commanded parents to teach their children about Him, (Deut. 4:5-9; Deut. 6:1-9; Deut. 11:18-21; Deut. 32:44-47; Psm. 78:1-8; Prov. 6:20-23; Eph. 1:4; Prov. 22:6), and He wants the priorities of every family centered on the implanting of scripture (James 1:21; Joshua 1:8; I Tim. 4:16). This certainly includes attending church to hear the preaching of the Word and to worship the Lord (Acts 2:42; I Thes. 2:11-12; Heb. 10:24-25; Rom. 10:14). Throughout the Old Testament, immediate, generational, spiritual declension always follows the neglect of God's Word. (See Joshua; Judges, esp. 2:10-15; the lives of the kings of Judah.) Parents are not obsolete at the teen time of life. They play a vital, irreplaceable role in the training of the next generation. Have a care not to short-circuit the leadership God has planned for these young people.
2. Children, including teenage children, need to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3). By placing an emphasis on their "feelings" in your comments, you have elevated the emotions to a position of higher importance than doing what is right in God's sight (Prov. 14:12).
3. The third (unspoken) issue is rebellion. In your letter, you expressed sympathy toward the teenagers' feelings of rebellion, which reflects a very prevalent attitude in the world. While teenage rebellion is so common today as to be almost universal (even among Christians), we still need to ask, "What does God say about it?" Children, even adult children, who rebelled against their parents were dealt with most severely under the Law of Moses (Deut. 21:18-20). We aren’t saying young rebels should be put to death, but we are saying the rebellion should not be encouraged.
In I Tim. 3:4 and Titus 1:6, an elder is to be selected "if his children are under control with complete respect" and "he has believing children who are not charged with being profligate or unruly". Additionally, parents who allowed their children to rebel were given the example of Eli. Although a priest of God and supposedly a godly man, he suffered not only his own death, but also the deaths of his sons, as well as the permanent removal of his family from the priesthood, because he did not restrain his sons.
The Lord takes the rebellion of youth very seriously. I Samuel 15:23 says, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." It appears to us that your remarks to the young people implied a right to rebel against their parents' spiritual leadership. In fact, although they may not enjoy doing their parents' wishes, it is God's will that they do them. It is not because of parental merit or the "office" of parenthood that the young people should respect and obey their parents, it is because God has placed those particular parents over them, and their obedience to their parents acknowledges the Lord's sovereign wisdom. Even more so, God has promised to bless those who honor and obey their parents. This is what needs to be emphasized to teenagers.
Please consider if you are inadvertently engendering a spirit of rebellion in our youth. Could you be a stumbling block to these "little ones"? Their hearts need truth; don’t impede them from hearing it. "So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) You are reacting to the response of their sin nature, and rightly you can expect the Word to cause stumbling (I Pet. 2:6-8); but also expect the preaching of the Word, the hearing of the Word, to bring grace and redemption among these teenagers.
Please pray for us to be wise parents, loving, kind, and gentle, but not intimidated in our role as leaders. We love you in the Lord and ask Him to bless you, also.
"...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day draw near." Hebrews 10:24-25
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