Talk about a problem with getting to the point…this started as only one point. I promise to write more and say less…err..I think I meant that the other way around.
So where we left off, I was observing that Kierkegaard saw Abraham’s faith as irrational. for him, this saved Christianity from his modernistic philosophy. When he missed was that Abraham’s faith was well founded on God’s past promises and delivery. So what does that have to do with parenting?
If you have kids, you no doubt found yourself saying one (or all) of the following:
“Because I said so.”
“Because I’m your father/mother.”
“I shouldn’t have to explain why.”
“Don’t ask questions, just do it.”
Inevitably, children ask “why” or challenge our reasons for directing them. I think it’s important to answer that questions for ourselves as parents. recently I found myself trying to give a more meaningful answer to my 3 1/2 year old daughter who was asking my why she had to comply with something I’d told her to do. I explained that “the Bible says that God put mommies and daddies in charge of little boys and girls.” But this answer wasn’t entirely satisfying to me.
Madison couldn’t have cared less, she was focusing on the order of things and struggling to accept her place at the bottom. For me, I knew that this explanation was true but it seemed like the Biblical equivalent of “because I told you to.”.
I considered the fact that Scripture says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. the rod of discipline will remove it far from him (Prov 22;15).” I believe that discipline, especially corporal discipline is necessary because the child’s instinct is not just uninformed but foolish and ultimately destructive. if you let a child choose what they eat, it would be ice cream three times a day, you know?
So given that a child depends on you to make decisions for their own good, and that you will be resisted because of their foolishness, the Christian parent must make a resolution which will build their ability to train their child: establish yourself as a worthy object of trust.
This is what Soren Kierkegaard missed. Abraham was willing to obey what would otherwise have seemed like a bizarre and extreme request because God had established Himself as trustworthy, a valid object of faith.
Children, over time, want to see that we consistently make decisions that are in their best interest. If we don’t commit to proving ourselves in this we, we will rightfully fail to gain their trust, and therefore fail to secure their obedience. We must show ourselves to be not only trustworthy in making decisions about our children, but in our own lives as well. Authority is not enough for obedience; that kind of faith IS blind. Wisdom and selflessness make not for lemmings, but for disciples.
Granted because of the authority vested in us by God, we are not required to earn obedience. But trust, even faith is something different. Without a worthy object, faith is irrational, foolish, shall we say even childish.