Tearing Down Our Defenses With Our Own Hands

Posted By on March 18, 2013

Kroyer_Peder_Severin_Marie_en_Ravello_1890Many people have posited that the “Achilles heel” of the homeschool movement is the failure of the parents to pass on their vision and convictions to their children. The parents may give their children a stellar education and protect them from evil influences and brainwashing, but their children seem to “fall down on the job” of carrying on the standards their parents have toiled and sacrificed for.

The parents themselves have to bear their own responsibility for not passing on their vision and convictions. However, today I would like to address their children—we second- or third-generation homeschoolers.

I am writing to myself as much as to anyone else. No matter how faithful and obedient we may seem, how much of a “good kid” we are, we all need to search our hearts and minds and ask ourselves, “Are my parents’ convictions mine, or do I shrug some of them off? Do I do things that are not pleasing to my parents?”

This is what I have noticed among many homeschooled young people. We are not bent on carrying on the convictions and standards of our parents. It is not our “passion.” We aren’t seriously focused on the battle before us and our duty to fight in it.

It is so perilously easy. Even if we don’t watch TV, there are movies, ready to dull our conscience. There are peers, or magazines, blogs, or books. Let’s use the example of dress. Perhaps your family has certain standards for modesty and you conform to those. But a few of your friends—or maybe some girls on a blog you visit—dress in a less modest, more worldly way. You think, half-unconsciously, “What a darling blouse! How cute and feminine!” and don’t think much more about it. But then you see more, and you begin to wish you could dress a little more like that. And being a girl, you don’t fully understand the tempting immodesty of it. Even if you continue to dress the same, your heart has left the beauties of modesty and now inclines toward things that are not pleasing to God—things that would, however unconsciously on your part—be a stumbling-block to your brothers in Christ and a grief to your parents. So when you get married, or just when you get a little bolder or more enticed to wear those darling clothes, you begin to leave behind the modesty standards of your parents.

You have not consciously rebelled; all along it has merely been a liking of certain “forbidden” things, and a desire to look “lovely” or “fashionable.” You still, even in your new attire, are probably wearing something much, much more “modest” than most worldly girls your age—but we cannot compare to find out what is right. You may be more modest in comparison; but you are still immodest. You have let down the standards your parents prayed over, and sacrificed and were “persecuted” for. Instead of making a forward step for godliness in your generation, or building on what your parents erected, you have taken a backward step; you have torn down the defensive wall against Satan that your parents fought to build. It can happen with music, entertainment, theology, and much more.

This reminds me so strongly of the verse: “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Pr. 14:1

Matthew Poole’s Commentary says:

“Plucketh it down with her hands; either by her idleness and not using her hands, or by her foolish and sinful courses.”

knightwithladyIt is so easy to relax, and in our foolish love of pleasure, to pursue our fancies to the tearing down of the very things which keep us safe. Imagine a castle during those warlike days when real dangers threatened and knights and castles were necessary for protection. Suppose one day the mistress of the castle, pacing along in her tapestry-hung hall came to one of the narrow slits that served as windows. Peering out discontentedly, she grumbled about the restricted view, comparing it to the wide, paned windows of the houses within the walls of London. “I wish we could have such; they are so lovely,” she murmured. Her husband expostulated, pointing out the great advantage large, exposed windows would give an attacking army, and she said no more about it. But as the weeks went on, instead of training her thoughts to her husband’s views, she let them wander in pleasant enjoyment of how nice such windows would be. “There have been no armies in this area for quite some time, and a peace has been signed with France,” she thought. One day her husband was called to London on lengthy business, and his wife began to play more and more with her fancies. “’Tis merely foolish carefulness of my husband’s,” she says to herself at last, and ordered the workmen to open and expand several of the narrow loopholes. “We won’t do too many—just a few.” When they were finished, how delighted she was! The new windows were so beautiful and pleasing to the eye! However, not three nights later, the neighboring baron, who had always been jealous and at enmity with the lady and her husband, seized the opportunity to attack. Most of the walls were old but sound, and hardly shook under the heavy cannonade. But the enemy soon discovered the new windows. Being weakened structurally, that wall crumbled under the cannon-fire. Up the fallen stone and shattered glass that the attackers exultantly rushed, and in a few minutes were masters of the castle. When, after her husband had been compelled to pay a heavy ransom, the lady was reunited with him, she confessed with tears that she and her fancies were the reason of all the calamity, the slaughter of their men-at-arms, and the loss of their castle.

Why is it easy for us to slip away from the standards of our parents? There are many reasons. One is that we have never had to fight as our parents fought. We have not experienced the dangers or sorrows of a worldly lifestyle, of drunkenness, of immodesty. Many of our parents were led out of various kinds of worldliness and taught the Bible’s principles relating to modesty, music, etc. But we didn’t fight those battles; we never experienced the pain of going along to Satan’s tune. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT advocating that parents should “expose” their children to the evils of these things, or let their children loose to “find out the hard way” on these issues. But I am saying that we need to be aware of this, and we need to place much higher priority on our parents’ standards and convictions. Instead of trying to test the limits, we should be seeking to understand why our parents set those limits, and making those standards our own. Their counsel in all areas of our lives should not just be listened to with obedience, but with a sincere desire to make that counsel our own. The Rechabites obeyed and were blessed for following the instructions of their long-dead great-great-great grandfather, though they may not have understood his reasons. Now we are not to perpetuate untruth or unbiblical “traditions of men,” as the Pharisees did—but we cannot use that as a shield for disobedience or dishonoring our parents. The Bible mentions the wisdom given to parents, and commands us to not only obey, but to bind their instructions to us as our own:

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” Pr. 7:1-3

afternoon tea by alexander rossiLet us not be foolish young women, tearing down parts of our defensive “house!” Let us stop today and review not only our music, our dress, our way of life, but review our heart-attitude towards these things, and ask ourselves if we are truly rejoicing in God’s standards, or are we “lusting after” alluring, forbidden things as did those foolish and oft-punished Israelites. Going back to our modesty example, you may be a girl who is still dressing within your parents’ standards. You are not outwardly stepping out of the boundaries. But what about your heart? Do you wish you could wear things that were a little tighter or a tad more revealing or fashionable, things you know your parents would not approve of? Ask God to give you different eyes—to help you to see clothing as He and your parents see it. Their counsel and experience is your protection. They are older and much wiser than you in a multitude of ways. It will not be an easy thing to develop different eyes—but God can give you a joy and delight in His ways and in modest dress. Do not let Satan steal your joy—he can only offer fleeting pleasures! Modesty is only one issue of many.

We need to take the Biblical vision and standards of our parents and press forward with enthusiasm. Get on the offensive, raise up the Biblical standards passed on to you, and stand firm. Let’s consider modesty again, for instance. Embrace it! Rejoice in it! Be modest in heart, in manner, in speech and in dress; increase the depth and purity of it in your life. Define and exemplify it in all you do, take every thought captive, to the glory of God.

Let us build upon what our parents have built, and bring glory and honor to God’s name! Let us go further toward holiness, purity, and truth. May He give us the truthfulness to search our own hearts, and all the grace and strength we need to change where we need to change.

About The Author

At twenty-five, Elisha Wahlquist delights in her femininity & in being her father’s daughter. She occupies herself in investing in her seven siblings, writing, doing research, supporting her father’s projects, and honing skills which (Lord willing) will be a blessing to a husband and children someday. Visit her family's website at www.untaintedbytheworld.com.


4 Responses to “Tearing Down Our Defenses With Our Own Hands”

  1. Thank you so much, Elisha, for posting these encouraging thoughts. The pressures of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil will all be fighting, resisting, and often taking captives until the end of the World. Through Christ we shall do valiantly. God bless.

  2. Hobbit says:

    To comment specifically on the first paragraph: The point that parents, Reformed (Coventantal) and Fundamentalist alike, forget, is simple. God has no grandchildren.

    I’m not a parent; I come from a pastor’s family of three where I am the only one following the Lord. But too often parents, in bringing up their children, forget that the children have to find the Lord /for themselves/. And there isn’t any magic formula to make that happen either.

  3. creativelychristian says:

    What I would be worried about more than dropping the ball is running ahead with the wrong ball. Just because our parents have a conviction or a preference or a certain way to do things does not mean that it is a Biblical standard.
    We need to make sure we are not confusing our parents ways with Biblical truth, or other people’s accusations of legalism will begin to ring true.
    I was homeschooled, stayed home & ran my family’s business, and started my own home business. I courted and am now engaged to a very Godly man. We appreciate our families and the way they have endeavored to serve God, but we are very careful to discuss whether how our families operated is Biblical standard or is a conviction or is a preference.
    We want to run our family biblically, but that DOES NOT have to mean doing things just because our parents did them & we want to continue doing them for their sake.
    I think this is an important distinction that has to be made.

  4. Dear creativelychristian,

    Thank you for your comment. It’s *so* true that we need to seek the Bible first and foremost as our standard; our parent’s standards should never trump what is plainly set forth in the Bible. Yet when our parents have a conviction that’s not sinful, we would be wise to heed their cautions. Often if we look behind a principle, we then see the principle or safeguard they were aiming at. For example, my family believes that drinking alcohol in moderation is not a sin (though drunkenness is), and yet we abstain from drinking any at all. Foolish conviction? But if you ask my parents, they will explain that a tendency towards drunkenness is in our family; my grandfather’s brother tasted one glass and ruined his life as a drunkard. Seeing this, my grandfather encouraged his sons to never drink, and my parents have passed that on to me. Once the principle behind the “rule” is understood, it makes much more sense.

    You said, “What I would be worried about more than dropping the ball is running ahead with the wrong ball.” I think that statement’s a little too strong; perhaps stronger than you meant it. We should *definitely* compare everything to Scripture, but it seems that many of our problems today don’t stem from children running ahead with the wrong ideas, but with the widespread, culture-approved rebellion that we see everywhere. Our generation’s battle, it seems to me, is more with *keeping* the wise principles of our parents amid a culture that mocks the Biblical family, honoring parents, and following the Bible.

    It’s so true that we really need to equip our children to “take every thought captive to Christ,” to evaluate every conviction through a Biblical lens. And yet we also need to prepare and enable them to “hold fast that faithful word [they] have been taught,” not just throw everything out and foolishly face the heartbreak and waste they could have avoided if only they had carried out their parent’s Biblical principles.

    Blessings on your upcoming wedding!

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