I wrote on schooling our kids a few weeks ago, and the issue came up in the comments of exposing our kids to the ills of society often readily evident in public schools. It is an interesting conundrum. How do we protect our children from sin? Do we isolate them? Do we make sure their only friends are fellow believers who share our cultural convictions? How much TV should they watch? What books should they read?
I recently listened in on a conversation between two wise friends a few weeks ago that got me thinking about this issue. One brought up the scene in Proverbs in which the father instructs his son on avoiding the snare of temptation with the adulteress.
6 For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, 7 and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, 8 passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house 9 in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.
10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. 13 She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, 14 “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. 16 I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. 19 For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; 20 he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.”
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. 22 All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast 23 till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.
24 And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, 26 for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.
One friend noted that the passage gives the impression that the father is proactively instructing his son. Maybe he walked his son down to the red light district and pointed out behavior to him from across the street. My other friend noted that, while growing up, his parents often had destitute people in their home for a season. He remembered watching a prostitute doing drugs in his home. And he noted the marked difference in his heart from learning of sin by witnessing firsthand the ugly consequences verses learning of sin via entertainment forms that usually sanitize it of its ugly consequences.
That conversation has provoked much thought for me. My children are going to be exposed to sin. Plus they are sinners themselves. I actually feel fairly equipped to navigate the sin within. I understand how the gospel equips us to face that head on. But now that I’ve gotten that biggie settled in my mind, I’m thinking anew about equipping them for the sin without. I have enough experience with cloistered Christianity to know that it is no savior from the sins of society. Yet I’m not naïve about the effects of unbridled exposure either.
This may be an unsatisfying post to some of you, because I do not yet have conclusions. Mainly, I’m thinking and praying through what it looks like to warn my children as the parent in Proverbs does. I’m praying through opportunities in our community for us as a family to minister to the broken and see the disastrous consequences of sin in people’s lives. I need to make sure that my children don’t first learn of sin from entertainment sources that hide its consequences. The first idea that comes to mind is serving at a soup kitchen with my children. I hope to find a long term ministry close to home where we can do that and more. I’ll keep you posted on this journey and would enjoy hearing feedback from those further along in this process than I.