Dec
23
2011

Children: Own or Lease?

There is something satisfying about a good movie.  In my opinion, a good movie is thought-provoking, clean, and includes both a story and acting that absorb you into the movie.

My wife and I recently enjoyed a movie named Like Dandelion Dust.  The story told in the movie follows an adoptive family, who find out that, after 7 years of raising their son, the signature of the biological father on the documents to release parental rights was forged.  The biological father and mother have petitioned the courts successfully to have their son, given up at birth, returned to them.  In a beautifully realistic fashion, both sets of parents are shown to have strengths and weaknesses, without marking one or the other as the villain.  You will enjoy it, especially if you are a parent.

While there are many themes in the movie, one stood out particularly in my mind.  It is the question of ultimate authority over your children.  In the movie, reflective of actual real-life stories, the courts have decided that a boy must be taken from the only parents he’s ever known and placed back with his biological parents.  His adoptive parents seem to be left with no choice but to grit their teeth and comply.

Who owns your children?

Often when this question arises with parents, many parents would immediately answer “Parents have ultimate authority regarding their children.  Who else would make a claim?”  As this movie reveals, the state or government makes a claim for ultimate authority over children.   While it is true today that many decisions are left to the parents without government intervention, what will happen when parents and the courts disagree about what is best for a child?  Does the state back down from its claim and leave the decision to the parents? Unfortunately, the state rescinds only rarely and never without a fight.  Regardless of how parents feel about their parental freedom, current law and practice in the US (and many developed countries) reveals that the government saves ultimate authority over the child for itself.

There is a third option, however, and one that transcends either of these choices.

I believe ultimate ownership of children is not the state nor even parents, but God.  The Bible teaches that all people are God’s creation and that He has ultimate ownership over them.  Of course, many deny His authority and choose to live a life of disobedience to His rule, but while God has given them the freedom to choose otherwise, they are not outside of His authority.  Within His ownership of creation, He delegates authority. When it comes to children, both Scripture and the raw facts of nature identify the child’s parents as the commissioned authority over them as they grow to adulthood.   As parents who willingly submit to the Creator, we should parent our children with the idea of stewardship guiding our behavior and decisions.  Christian Parental Stewardship (CPS) is defined as the care of children to the benefit and glory of their Creator.   And yes, my acronym shares the same initials with the government entity Child Protective Services, but I find that to be a delicious irony.

What are the effects of a commitment to CPS?

With the understanding of CPS in mind, what attitudes and behaviors would this core belief create in a family?  To start, it reminds us as parents that our primary goal in raising our kids is to introduce them to Jesus and prepare them for a life of service in His kingdom.  All other goals that we may have as parents for our children must apply toward this.

Another mindset produced from CPS is the cheerful, polite but firm rejection of other “authorities” who would seek to undermine God’s delegated authority of the parents in the lives of the children.  Throughout history, this stand often resulted in ridicule and excommunication from the culture as well as violence or force, whether explicit or implied, threatened from the rulers or government of the time.  We should expect the same today.  However, such potential suffering should never deter us from the right path.

Raising children is hard work, fun and full of joy.  Along with those benefits comes a great and grave responsibility to do the right thing for our children. The decisions we make in our families must always have God’s glory in mind and the idea of Christian Parental Stewardship.  If we must do what is unpopular or mocked by those around us, our calling remains the same.  If we are threatened with separation, loss or imprisonment, we must not waver from the truth.  Instead, we must take care (with action if necessary) to protect our families from forces that meddle inappropriately.

What do you think?

  • T. Gates

    Great story!  And, if more parents who proclaim to be Christians would view raising their children in this way the world would be a different place!

  • Kiwimum

    You write:  “Throughout history, this stand often resulted in ridicule and excommunication from the culture as well as violence or force, whether explicit or implied, threatened from the rulers or government of the time.”

    What are some specific examples of this?

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      At Christmastime, I think of the obvious: Herod killing all children 2 and younger.

    • DavidS

      In many nations since 1850, the rise of ideologies such as socialism,
      fascism and communism have given birth to governments run under these
      principles.  These forms of government all share the concept that
      parental influence needs to be diminished while state influence should
      grow. 

      The birth of public schooling in America came with a movement whose
      purpose was to train children to be less committed to family and local
      communities and more committed to the American state.  Apparently, even our state isn’t immune to this power grab.

      Under these regimes, families are deconstructed, quickly and violently
      through a revolution or a purge or gradually like the frog slowly
      boiling to death in the pot.

      Examples:

       – Pharaoh’s attempt to execute male born children of the Israelites

       – King Herod’s slaughter of the male children of Bethlehem

       – The People’s “Republic” of China

       – USSR

       – Nazi Germany

       – US public schooling

       – Anytime any bureaucrat, using the force of government, forces parents to obey it instead of their consciences.

  • Blessednation

    Kiwimum please refer to Nazi Germany for a great example.

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    This is a great guest post, thanks Schoels! It gives me hope, really. I think of all those parents in custody battles (nowadays grandparents, too) who fight for their children. An eternal perspective gives peace, a long-term visibility in their troubled time.