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What Narrative Are We Telling Our Children?

I had a great time learning from Ed Shaw and Sam Allberry at the Living Out Local Course. This ministry is run by and aimed at Christian men and women who experience same-sex attraction. I believe these men and women are living heroes of the faith.

Several things bear repeating for a disciple-making parent.

Shaw and Allberry asked this question. “What narrative are we telling our young children? Many Christians will marry when they are adults. But not all. Some are eunuchs or make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom (Matt 19).”

The Narrative
As parents, if we idolize marriage then our narrative may go something like this to our children: “Someday God will bring the right person along for you. Keep yourself pure and the Lord will reward you.”

While past generations have had the right motives, unfortunately this message idolizes marriage and sex. And it has let down two types of people.

Some Christian young people will grow up and be single – some by their choice and others not through their choice. With the previous message we are promising something we cannot nor should not guarantee. When we tell this message it is understandable when our adult children are tempted to marry a non-Christian.

Others of our young people will experience same-sex attraction. Again, if we have idolized marriage and sex, then when they come of age and experience this temptation they will desire a same-sex partner. Why are we surprised? We have been teaching the narrative of adult companionship and sex.

What should we be saying to them?

“The calling of singleness is a beautiful calling. Our Savior was single, as was the most effective Christian of his day – Paul.”

And we can remind them of another thing Allberry said. “I have realized that marriage does not solve the problems I have as a single person. It just trades in the problems of a single person for the problems of a married person.” Now that is wisdom!

The Disciple-Making Parent
I say something similar in The Disciple-Making Parent (pp. 222-223)

“Tom Bisset states wanting to get married but not finding a mate was one reason young people walk away from their faith. Could it be that these children left because we never mentioned the possibility they might be called to singleness? Could it be the church and many parents do not have a robust understanding of singleness?

Our Lord was single, as was the most effective Christian of his day, Paul. Our children must realize that God calls everyone to be single for part of their lives. For some, God’s call is to singleness for their whole lives. Singleness is a privilege and a great opportunity for service.

If God does not provide your child with a Christian mate, he or she should not be tempted to walk away from the faith. With Christian women outnumbering Christian men three to two, there is a good possibility that some of our young women will remain single. A wise parent will ask his or her children, “If God calls you to singleness, are you ready to follow him? Some young people have walked away from their faith because they really want to get married. How do you think you would handle that?” In addition to this conversation, I need to ask myself, “If God calls my child to prolonged singleness, am I ready to celebrate and support this as a glorious calling?”

Nailing the Middle-Aged
That last sentence needs to be revisited often. In the conference, Shaw and Allberry quietly and unintentionally nailed the middle-aged parent.

“Are we ready to celebrate the daughter who is single and producing spiritual children just as much as the one who is married and bringing us grandchildren?”

Ouch! Older ladies and men – let that question just hang in the air.

As parents our expectations have a huge influence on our children. What we celebrate is noticed. Let’s make sure that it is in line with what God celebrates!