Many Christian parents lack confidence in their biblical knowledge or feel ill equipped to correctly answer their child’s theological questions. These parents rightly desire to grow in knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9-10) and to be ready to give an answer for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15). In the counseling room, when considering the scope of their life, many people (regardless of age) note the significance of their parental relationships, and the effects (positive or negative) these relationships have produced. Thinking back, I cannot recall a single session in which a counselee lamented their parent having not provided sufficient theological answers or Bible knowledge. The grievance most frequently disclosed is one of Christian parents who, despite their clearly professed beliefs, had not shown love.
The two greatest commandments in Scripture call us to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). While we may be tempted to believe that those who reside within the walls of our homes somehow fall into a unique category of relationships exempted from this high standard of love, we must remember that, for parents, our littlest and closest neighbors are often our very own children. As professing believers, if our parenting manifests itself in a pattern of lovelessness, we are living in blatant disobedience to the two commandments on which all the Law and Prophets depend. This hypocrisy, lived in full view of these more vulnerable neighbors, may very well cause them to stumble (Matthew 18:6) through life, as they attempt to somehow reconcile what they have learned of God’s character with these loveless methods of “Christian” parenting. Jesus said the world would know his disciples by their love (John 13:35). Will our children be able to recognize the same?
Whether we, as Christian parents, actively and visibly love our children matters. One day my own children will grow into adulthood. When that day comes, I hope they will have learned to think biblically, that they might enjoy theology as much as my husband and I do, but never at the expense of greatest commandment, neighborly love. May it be, by this love they have experienced in our home, that my children will know my husband and I are Christ’s disciples.