I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. (Psalm 101:2-3)
There is a place in my heart where I long for a complete purity in my children that I lost in myself so long ago. Learning to preserve that innocence in those babies we hold so dear can take a lifetime of pursuit, for that sweet purity we see in our children's faces will not stay that way if we don't fight to save it. To protect their innocence, I have acted as fiercely as a lioness whose cubs have been threatened, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Why is preserving innocence so important? Innocence by its very definition means freedom. Freedom from crime, sin, or guilt, accompanied by untainted purity of heart and unimpaired integrity, makes up the essence of innocence. How many times have we not guarded the innocence of those we love?
Discerning What You See
One way innocence is damaged is through television. I don't make any bones about it; I hate television. Television exposes us to such evil. Commercials are so seductive, the news so subjective, the programs so unrealistic, and our children have already become programmed to view as trustworthy whatever comes across the screen.
Some people can control it in their house, but why even bother having such a calling card to sin setting up residence with your family? Even if you try to limit yourself to "Christian" programming or only playing good videos, it is still a great time-waster. The object of homeschooling is to spend time with our children, not to have them babysat or taught by the video. Our kids are worth the time it takes to know them. When we became convicted about all of our great "Christian" videos, we switched from a 27" quadraphonic sound worship center to a 13" video player/TV combo in a wooden box with a lock. It lives at our warehouse, and we bring it out only on rare occasion.
If you choose to use a television screen to teach your children, try to sit with them. Teach them discernment through example. If you need help with discernment, ask friends to recommend family movies or vidoes by quality speakers you can trust. Don't be surprised if you soon find a television or monitor not to be the necessity you once thought.
Some women have told me, "You don't understand! My husband has to watch sports." I would challenge that spouse to teach the kids how to play that sport. We love baseball and have great games at our house with the girls versus the guys. We used to only watch; now we "star," and everyone gets a chance to shine.
Discerning What You Do
One of our favorite sayings is borrowed from the title of one of Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler's videos - Be on Guard. It has been our family theme for quite a while; we even use it in place of good-bye. When the kids jump out of the car I yell, "Be On Guard!" When they go to church functions I yell, "Be On Guard!" When they are in the store with us, I yell "Be On Guard!" Get the picture?
We are on guard about magazines, books, the library, billboards, and anything and everything that could penetrate the ear and eye. We can't be too cautious with friends or family; we must be ever vigilant to secure the purity we desire in our children's lives.
At times even our churches, which should be havens of refuge for us, are battlegrounds as we see God calling us to closer consecration and purity. We see how the church itself feels threatened by those who take a different stand. I never cease to be amazed at how other parents are threatened when they hear what we will and will not allow our children to participate in. Taking the message of family purity and innocence to the church at large will require true servanthood if we are to see this generation change.
Our oldest is almost 14. We desire God's very best for her and must be obedient to help keep her purity intact, because we have covenanted with God to raise her under His authority. She must covenant with us to know and understand that we are working to benefit her and bring glory to God. We have had to carefully explain to others our point of view about youth groups and youth group functions, for even these activities could compromise the areas of honesty and purity that God requires in us. Her emotional purity (the internal) is even more important than the physical purity (the external) because the mind is where the battle will be won or lost.
We are learning to turn the tables on those who would want to label us. When accusations come from those who should be in agreement with us, we are quick to turn them around with "you mean you do allow your children to participate in ______? Why?" Most of the time we find that the parent has not thought the issue through in biblical terms, but has accepted whatever is seen as "normal." Authority comes from God. It is set according to the standard of truth and justice of the Word.
As Christian parents, our authority to parent as we see fit comes from God, not the social welfare department, a church or religious affiliation, or even our homeschool support group. Don't become an isolationist or set the family up as an idol, but do learn to express your views and be a part of what is going on in your community. The key here is balance.
We are commanded by God to order and protect the institute of the family . That may mean that we walk to the beat of a different drummer. There may be a time when you and yours are persecuted for that very belief system, but learn to articulate your position and have a biblical foundation to back it up.
As parents, we should be able to monitor our effectiveness by the willingness of our children to share with us. Children should feel safe in speaking their thoughts to their parents. If we are accomplishing the biblical mandate of turning the hearts of the children to the parents, we should be able to hear and listen to all that another person is able to say, even if that person is a child. Sometimes we will need to draw some things out, but we should certainly expect to mentor our children to understand and reason what they are thinking and feeling.
As we train another generation in a purity that we ourselves have not known, may we look to the Author of that purity as the source of our strength and the hope of our future.