How my heart sank as I read about Josh Harris’ recent statements and choices.
A familiar name from about two decades ago; the famous author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” I will state up front that I haven’t read that book or any of Josh Harris’ books, but I have certainly heard of them and been aware of them since my high school days. He burst onto the homeschool scene with first a magazine and then this book, followed by others. He didn’t just reach the homeschool-convention type of market, either. Parents from all kinds of Christian circles bought this book for their young people. Young ladies and young men read it. The message was absorbed and the method was apparently adopted by thousands of families.
So, here we are, two decades later. And the heartbreak we now hear of is that Joshua Harris’ own marriage has not lasted. Not only that, by his own admission, his faith in Christ has not lasted.
My heart goes out to the Harris family, but the point of this article is not to talk about the Harris’. I want to talk to myself as a mother and to you as other mothers.We are so prone to look for a method that will work. We want something we can hang onto– if we will just do this, everything will be fine and our children will grow up to be the dedicated Christ-followers that we so desire. We see kids shipwrecking at every turn. Somebody tell me what I should do with my own kids to get a good outcome, please! I’m scared! What can I place my trust in on this difficult journey called parenting?
Therein lies the problem. If our hope and trust is in anything other than Jesus alone, if our allegiance is placed anywhere else, we are falling short, and we may be falling into idolatry. (Preach it, sister…)We all need this reminder from time to time. The answer is not in a method. The popular methods and fads may be different today than they were a decade or two ago, but the truth is still the same. No book, no purity ring, no youth group, no homeschool co-op, no homeschool movement, no dating method, no educational method, no certain style of clothing, no parenting method, no discipline system, no Christian school, no formula of any sort is going to give me a guaranteed outcome. Ultimately, it’s about the heart of that child. They will either grow up to follow Christ for themselves, or they won’t.
This is not to say that we can’t find good ideas and good examples to follow. (In general, as far as Harris’ popular book, I think it’s a wise idea for young people to not be involved in the dating scene from age 14 up, etc. I think it is certainly a wise decision for young people to save themselves for marriage, as they follow Christ as their Lord and Master.) In general, we’d probably all agree that some popular “Christian” ideas seem to be good ideas, and some popular “Christian” ideas seem to be bad ideas.As parents, we need to pray for great discernment. We must take ourselves, with all of our sheep-like tendencies, to the Great Shepherd Himself. As we fully accept our responsibility to lovingly guide our children from birth to adulthood, we need to seek God’s wisdom at every turn. We need to pay much less attention to the popular ideas of our day, and instead seek Biblical truth, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and seek out those who are seasoned Christians who have been down the path of life.
So am I saying that there actually is NO physical, human, foolproof answer to producing children who grow up to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, and minds? Yes I am, because Scripturally we know it’s a work of the Holy Spirit (which is somewhat of a mystery) in their hearts and lives. Over that child’s heart we have no control. Influence, yes. Control, no. Responsibility, yes. Guaranteed outcomes, no.
And as parents, if this realization doesn’t cast us at the feet of the Master, I don’t think anything will.♥