What it Takes to Raise a Christian Child in a Country Ruled by Moral Confusion

By Natasha Crain

Oh, this election.

How it’s brought out the worst in everyone, including the two people running for office.

As crazy as the last few months leading up to the election have been, I haven’t felt inspired to write anything about it…until now.

The recording of Trump making vulgar and lewd comments about women is bringing me out of my election silence. But not for the reason you might think.

In the past few days, I’ve watched with amazement as scores of articles denouncing Trump’s character have been shared on social media by my liberal friends. They are rightly outraged at what he said. But these are the same friends who are pro-choice, support transgender bathroom choice, believe there’s no problem with sex outside of marriage, and think that not supporting same-sex marriage is bigotry.

Raise a Christian Child

Liberal America, from whence does this hodgepodge of moral views come, other than from your own fickle liking?  

Should not your moral outrage be tempered to the whisper of an opinion by the realization that, without a belief in God, you haven’t an objective foot to stand on?

This week’s showcase of moral confusion from our collective society demonstrates how few people bother to consider the basis for their moral convictions. As Christian parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our kids with feet firmly planted on objective moral ground. But what does that mean when they’re growing up in a country ruled by moral confusion?

 

First, it means we must proactively teach our kids how to think critically about the nature of morality…unlike the world around them.

You know what kind of political comment I never see? Something like this: “Now, let me say up front that this is just my personal opinion, and my opinion only, because I don’t believe in any revealed religion and therefore realize I have no basis for believing there is an objective standard of morality that applies to all people. So, if you disagree with me, your view is just as valid as mine, because in a world without such objective standards, everything is a matter of opinion. With that acknowledgement out of the way, I just want to say that I think what Trump said is so morally outrageous! Again, that’s just according to my opinion, and if you think what he said is totally fine, your view is valid as well.”

Ahem.

That is certainly not the kind of (consistent) thinking that is found in popular culture. Instead, secular America treats morality as a grab-bag of whatever the mainstream likes, while condemning those who disagree as if there were some objective basis for that morality in a world without God.

This. Is. Confusion.

We have to teach our kids the logical moral implications of a theistic versus atheistic worldview.

This isn’t even about which worldview is correct. It’s simply about consistent thinking.

In a theistic worldview, there is an all-good God who is the objective standard of morality—His character defines what is good and evil for all people, regardless of personal opinion. This standard is what gives meaning to the words right and wrong.

In an atheistic worldview, individuals can have a preference for what they think is right and wrong, but no one can claim a higher authority for that preference. I might say murder is wrong, for example, but I can only mean wrong in the weakest sense—“murder is wrong in my personal opinion.” Someone else could legitimately claim that murder is great, and there would be no objective arbiter of morality between us; no one could say what we ought to do. Morality is simply subjective.

If people were thinking in ways consistent with their worldview, we should see a lot more comments like my hypothetical one above.

 

Second, it means we must teach our kids why there’s good reason to believe the Bible is true.

Let’s say that you gift your kids with the critical thinking skills needed to understand the difference between objective and subjective morality, as I described above. That gives them the foundation for at least having consistent thinking, but it isn’t sufficient for giving them an understanding of why there’s good reason to believe it’s the theistic worldview that offers the accurate picture of morality. For that, kids must have good reason to believe that the Bible is true.

This means much more than a parent faithfully repeating that the Bible is God’s word throughout a child’s 18-plus years at home. It means thoroughly addressing why anyone should believe the truth claims of any book that claims to be divine revelation:

How were the books in the Bible selected?

Why were books left out of the Bible?

How do we know we can trust the Bible’s authors?

How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote?

Does the Bible have errors and contradictions?

For more on these questions, see my post, Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True. As that title suggests, our kids won’t have any reason to base their moral understanding on God’s word if they don’t have the confidence that it’s accurate in the morality it teaches.

 

Third, it means we must give our kids experience applying their moral understanding to the social issues at the forefront of discussion today.

My first two points address the theoretical knowledge kids need to engage with the world. But if we don’t help them apply it to the actual social issues in the spotlight, it’s like studying a manual on how to ride a bike without ever getting on one.

All the foundational knowledge in the world can quickly get confused when presented with nuanced circumstances. For example, just today I saw someone on Facebook make the case that every person should be pro-choice, if only because some kids would otherwise be born into horrible families that will abuse them. Most people who have given thought to the abortion issue can see right through that (bad) logic, but if a child encountered such thinking for the first time, he or she might think it makes sense.

Taking the opportunity to walk through individual social issues that involve moral questions can make an enormous difference in preparing kids to engage with a secular world.

(Incidentally, I highly recommend Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk about Our Culture’s Toughest Issue as a great resource on the abortion subject.)

 

Fourth, it means we must help our kids develop a willingness to boldly stand up for their beliefs.

We should be leery of raising kids who will have all the right beliefs but have no guts to stand up for those beliefs in a hostile world. The two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

I experienced that on a small scale this week. I heard through the grapevine that there’s a child in my son’s class at school who is being picked on by other kids. I pulled my son aside at home to talk about what he’s seen and heard. He acknowledged that he had witnessed this happening, so I asked what he had done about it.

Absolutely nothing.

He knew it was wrong, and he didn’t like what he saw, but he told me it’s “too embarrassing” to say something to his friends. We had one of those overly looooong parenting talks, and I explained why it’s so important to stand up for your beliefs even when it makes you uncomfortable.

Two days later, on the way home from school, I noticed he had tears in his eyes. He told me that some kids were talking about doing something bothersome to that child again. But this time he told them to stop. And they did.

Knowing what’s right, doing what’s right, and standing up for what’s right are three different things that aren’t automatically connected in our kids’ minds and hearts. It’s up to us to proactively draw those connections and raise kids who will be a light to the world rather than a light tucked away in a comfortable home.

 

Let me end this by saying that if you’re thinking, “I can’t believe she thinks you have to believe in God to know that what Trump said is bad!” (as some readers who stumble upon this post are bound to suggest)…you’ve totally misunderstood what I said.

And that’s exactly representative of the moral confusion in America today.


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20 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “But these are the same friends who are pro-choice, support transgender bathroom choice, believe there’s no problem with sex outside of marriage, and think that not supporting same-sex marriage is bigotry. Liberal America, from whence does this hodgepodge of moral views come, other than from your own fickle liking?”

    Why assume this is a hodgepodge? These views don’t seem at odds to me at all. What’s fickle about supporting marriage equality?

    The contradiction to me is opposing bathroom choice because you think it threatens young women, but then support a candidate who bragged about barging into changing rooms with half-naked teenage girls. Likewise saying that extramarital sex and divorce are sins and then supporting thrice-married Trump who admits to attempting to seduce married women.

    Seriously, look at the beam in your own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else’s.

    Reply
    • Scott says:

      @Andy

      I think you are missing Natasha’s point. She was not condoning Trump’s remarks or actions. She was simply pointing out the hypocrisy.

      >>Why assume this is a hodgepodge? These views don’t seem at odds to me at all. What’s fickle about supporting marriage equality?

      If there isn’t an objective standard to measure these views against, it is nothing more than an opinion. Her question is simple: If you are morally outraged by Trump’s comments on women, how can you call someone against “marriage equality” immoral? It is just your opinion and therefore it is simply subjective morality at best. Whether they seem at odds to you is simply an opinion.

      >> The contradiction to me is opposing bathroom choice because you think it threatens young women, but then support a candidate who bragged about barging into changing rooms with half-naked teenage girls. Likewise saying that extramarital sex and divorce are sins and then supporting thrice-married Trump who admits to attempting to seduce married women.

      Please help me understand what the argument and evidence is for allowing bathroom choice based on gender identity. I don’t get it.

      Also, I don’t see where the author is supporting Trump. Again she is only pointing out the hypocrisy of worldview.

      >>Seriously, look at the beam in your own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else’s.

      Are you a Christian? I find it fascinating that some people paraphrase the Bible when they don’t follow it themselves. You do realize that you are committing the very thing you accuse the author of doing.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Scott: “I think you are missing Natasha’s point.”

        Natasha said: “They are rightly outraged at what he said. But these are the same friends who are pro-choice, support transgender bathroom choice, believe there’s no problem with sex outside of marriage, and think that not supporting same-sex marriage is bigotry.”

        She is suggesting that to be outraged at what he said is at odds with those other opinions. If her point was simply that it is at odds with atheism then then she could have said so without referencing those other positions. But she did bring those other positions in – why, if not to suggest that supporting same sex marriage and opposing Trump’s bigotry is somehow contradictory?

        “Please help me understand what the argument and evidence is for allowing bathroom choice based on gender identity. I don’t get it.”

        Let’s take a woman who’s had a sex change. ‘She’ now has biceps and pectorals like a man’s, a six-pack and chest hair. But the bathroom law insists that this person keeps using the women’s bathroom, despite them having all the appearances of a man. The argument FOR this is that it will protect girls. How will it protect girls, given that it allows men the perfect cover to go into women’s bathrooms – “Hey, I’m a post-op trans – I don’t want to be in here but the law forces me to!”.

        “Again she is only pointing out the hypocrisy of worldview.”

        She’s not pointed out any hypocrisy. She’s asserted that everyone she’s seen bashing Trump on Facebook but also supporting gay rights is an atheist, and given no evidence to support that view, and she’s asserted that atheists cannot make moral pronouncements, with no evidence again, and further than Christians CAN make objective moral pronouncements, again with no evidence. Why does being a Christian make your moral pronouncements any more ‘objective’ than an atheists?

        “I find it fascinating that some people paraphrase the Bible when they don’t follow it themselves.”

        I’m deliberately talking to you in a language that you can understand.

        Finally, who says one has to be ‘morally outraged’ to say that you find Trump’s remarks repugnant and think that they show he’d be a bad President?

        Reply
        • Scott says:

          @Andy
          Let’s make this clear. Are there objective moral values or not? For example: is baby torture an act that is evil in itself or do you just feel it is wrong?

          If the act itself is evil, where does that moral judgement come from? For Christians, we believe it comes from the nature of God. Since it is outside my opinion and outside whatever society decides and outside instinct, it is objective. Whether you agree with it or not, is a separate matter from the objectivity. Where else would objective morals come from?

          If the act is just wrong to Andy, then it has no meaning. It is simply an opinion. Again, you should read Abolition of Man by CS Lewis (it is short and easy to read) which details the issues with subjective morality.

          Once you read that, you should easily see the hypocrisy of a subjective moral worldview. It will always be some men creating morals for other men.

          And so I don’t miss your point..
          >>Let’s take a woman who’s had a sex change. ‘She’ now has biceps and pectorals like a man’s, a six-pack and chest hair. But the bathroom law insists that this person keeps using the women’s bathroom, despite them having all the appearances of a man.

          You lost me. If he now has all the appearances of man why is he still in the girls bathroom? So you’re saying that after a complete sex change, he still thinks of himself as a girl? Why would you ever get a sex change then? The point of gender identity is that they ALREADY think of themselves as the opposite sex which is why they get the operation in the first place.

          If the surgery isn’t complete (female bits to male bits) or no surgery at all, then we have an issue. And the issue isn’t against Transgender people. The issue is sexual deviants who will abuse the law. If a person looks nothing like a female and is in the female locker room, that is the entire issue.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “For Christians, we believe it comes from the nature of God”

            So that’s your opinion?! If it’s just your opinion that the traits of God’s nature are objectively good, then the whole thing remains subjective. What makes his nature objectively good, regardless of anyone’s opinion? By what metric or logic is it objectively good, save for a circular argument that you’re defining good by reference to the nature?

            Again, let’s allow that a God exists and he has a nature. How are you getting from that to ‘The nature is objectively good’? What if someone else says they believe ‘The nature is objectively bad’? How do you work out who is right, given that good and bad here are strictly being defined by that nature anyway? What do you even mean by ‘good’ here? The term becomes devoid of meaning in this context.

            You’ve heard of Euthyphro’s Dilemma, right? Are the traits of God’s nature as they are because they are good, or are they good because they are traits of God’s nature? Either way, you’ve got a big problem arguing that his nature creates objective morals.

            “If he has the appearance of a man, why is he in the girls bathroom”

            Because the bathroom law that all you guys are defending says that the person is a woman and so doesn’t get to choose their bathroom! This person looks like a man, wants to use the men’s bathroom, but the law says no.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Regarding CS Lewis, many people have answered his points in the decades since. Try reading ‘Can God’s Goodness Save the Divine Command Theory From Euthyphro?’ by Jeremy Koons.

            Spoiler alert: the answer to Koons’ question is ‘no it can’t’. This doesn’t mean objective morality doesn’t exist, but it does mean no one’s come up with a good reason to argue that God’s existence would make any difference to the question one way or another.

          • Scott says:

            @Andy
            >>Regarding CS Lewis, many people have answered his points in the decades since. Try reading ‘Can God’s Goodness Save the Divine Command Theory From Euthyphro?’ by Jeremy Koons.
            First, I find it ironic that you dismiss CS Lewis as being ‘old’ and then bring up Euthyphro from Plato’s time. Who are these ‘many people’ that have answered CS Lewis? I haven’t seen any that are worthwhile.

            Jeremy Koons article is very interesting. However, I still think he simply can’t accept the conclusion that it is from God’s nature that what he wills is good. However, don’t take my word for it, take Dr. Craig’s.
            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-euthyphro-dilemma-once-again

          • Scott says:

            @Andy
            >>“If he has the appearance of a man, why is he in the girls bathroom”

            Why would you misquote me? It clearly wasn’t a copy and paste. Here is my original quote “If he now has all the appearances of man why is he still in the girls bathroom?” This means he has gone through the entire gender assignment surgery just as you stated in your original post.

            That is so dishonest. And you entirely avoided the real reasoning behind my entire response.

            >>“For Christians, we believe it comes from the nature of God”
            Again, you punted on all the main questions I asked and focused on where Christians believe Moral Law comes from. More important than any questions you asked: is there a God? If you don’t believe there is a God, what does it matter about His nature? I think you need to take care of first things first.

            It is clear, you are not interested in a civil discourse when you blatantly mischaracterize what I’ve written.

          • Kyle says:

            @ Scott

            Did you miss my first reply or were you avoiding it?

            As for the bathroom gender topic the issue is the conservative right making a pathetic attempt to fight off a fictitious monster only the ignorant believe in. There are female deviants and male deviants. These deviants prey on the same gender as well as the opposite gender. They already do this regardless of laws already in place. A bathroom law like the one in North Carolina gives no added protection to anyone. It is a pathetic attempt to fight off a fictitious monster only the ignorant believe in. What mental gymnastics has to occur to think a sexual deviant that would otherwise go into bathrooms of the opposite gender to prey on kids would suddenly stop because there is a law saying they can’t go in that particular bathroom? The conservative right does not understand the issue, and they don’t want to understand the issue. They’d rather clutch their pearls and swing at phantoms.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Scott, can you confirm something for me – have you actually read Jeremy Koon’s paper or just William Lane Craig’s response to it? WLC’s response to it was pretty much a capitulation – admitting that Koons had shown the so-called ‘third horn’ robbed the term ‘good’ or any meaning whatsoever.

            Craig: “The difficulty is – and I think he plays on this – is that goodness is one of these primitives that really ultimately can’t be defined. It is a sort of primitive property or quality that can’t be reductively defined in terms of anything else. There are many other notions like that that philosophers would say are primitive or fundamental or foundational concepts. So in that sense semantically you can’t get beyond just affirming that something is good”

            That’s pretty much accepting Koons’ point. Craig thinks he’s saving his argument by saying good can have meaning because we can describe its qualities. But that doesn’t debunk Koons’ argument. Craig is admitting that ontologically, good becomes meaningless but insisting we can describe it semantically, which doesn’t overturn Koon’s point, and doesn’t require God in the first place. He’s saying “Well good isn’t meaningless because we all know what ‘good’ means.

            You can hear this discussed more fully on the Reasonable Doubts podcast, episode 139, from around the 14 minute 20 second mark. At around 20 minutes and 15 seconds in they specifically discuss/dissect William Lane Craig’s response.

            I’ll post a link to it directly after this post, as I’m guessing otherwise this post will get this snarled up in moderation.

            “Why would you misquote me? It clearly wasn’t a copy and paste.”

            Because I was on a device last night that didn’t allow copy/paste. You say this is dishonest because you actually said: “If he now has all the appearances of man why is he still in the girls bathroom?”

            Apologies if you think this is radically different from my misquote/summary, but it makes no difference at all to my response. I really don’t get what you think I missed out. But I’ll answer again, this time with an exactly copy and paste:

            “If he now has all the appearances of man why is he still in the girls bathroom?”

            Because the bathroom law that all you guys are defending says that the person is a woman and so doesn’t get to choose their bathroom! This person looks like a man, wants to use the men’s bathroom, but the law says no.

            “So you’re saying that after a complete sex change, he still thinks of himself as a girl?”

            When did I say that? You actually QUOTED me saying “the bathroom law insists that this person keeps using the women’s bathroom”, and you responded “Why is he still in the girls bathroom”. I just told you! Because the bathroom law insists on it. I’m baffled that you asked me why this person would WANT to use the women’s bathroom rather than the men’s directly after you quoted me explaining that he’s being forced by the law to use the women’s. I can only figure that you weren’t reading the text that you were quoting.

            “First, I find it ironic that you dismiss CS Lewis as being ‘old’ and then bring up Euthyphro from Plato’s time”

            You put ‘old’ in quotes but I never used that word. I simply said that people have answered his points [in the decades since]. That you haven’t seen any that you consider worthwhile doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And sure, I’d say that Euthyphro still stands. People have offered arguments against it, and others have pointed out why those arguments fail, leaving Plato’s argument standing.

            “More important than any questions you asked: is there a God? If you don’t believe there is a God, what does it matter about His nature? I think you need to take care of first things first.”

            Well if you want to demonstrate that a God exists first, then go ahead. That’s your claim, not mine! My point was that for the sake of argument I can grant that a God exists, with a nature, and still you don’t get any closer to showing that an objective morality exists that comes from that god.

          • KR says:

            Scott wrote: “Let’s make this clear. Are there objective moral values or not? For example: is baby torture an act that is evil in itself or do you just feel it is wrong?”

            This is the example we’re often given of a supposedly objective moral value. The idea seems to be that if there’s a broad consensus that something is wrong, then it’s objectively wrong. How does this follow? The proponents of objective moral values never seem to connect the dots here.

            It’s obvious that our moral consensus on slavery, women’s rights, racial equality , the treatment of LGBT minorities etc. has and is still being changed. If moral consensus can change over time, how can it be an indicator of objectivity?

            Another problem with this argument is that if consensus indicates objectivity, then all the moral issues where there is no consensus would seem to indicate a lack of an objective moral standard. If there are objective moral values then it should be possible to resolve these moral conflicts by simply demonstrating what the correct position is. I see no examples of this happening, instead what we see is the resolution of moral conflicts through a political process which is decidedly subjective.

            In fact, if you believe in the existence of objective moral values and that society should be guided by them, I see no reason why you would accept a democratic system of lawmaking since it can never guarantee that it will arrive at rules of behaviour that coincide with any absolute moral standard. My question to the proponents of objective moral values would be: do you advocate a theocratic system of government where laws are derived from an absolute and unchanging, divinely inspired standard? If not, why not?

            Other obvious questions that need to be answered are: how do we access these objective moral values and how do we determine that they are in fact objective rather than subjective?

  2. Andy Ryan says:

    “In a theistic worldview, there is an all-good God who is the objective standard of morality—His character defines what is good and evil for all people, regardless of personal opinion. This standard is what gives meaning to the words right and wrong. In an atheistic worldview, individuals can have a preference for what they think is right and wrong, but no one can claim a higher authority for that preference.”

    What makes God the standard of morality? What makes that standard OBJECTIVE beyond you saying that it is? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a God exists and that he has a character. Why should that character defined what is good and evil for people, beyond it being your opinion that it should define it?

    Where God’s character come from? Is it arbitrary that it includes traits you view as ‘good’ such as loving and forgiveness, or could he have had different traits? If his character’s traits including hatefulness and vengefulness, would THEY be the ‘good traits’, or are those traits objectively bad, such that no possible ‘Good God’ could possibly have them? If the former, then it’s arbitrary that we see loving and forgiveness as good. If the latter, then loving and forgiveness are objectively good traits whether or not a God has them.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Andy:
      “In a theistic worldview” is the wrong text, I think he meant to write “In a Christian worldview” or this was implied? In the Christian worldview, scripture is the source of its roots and rules. I am short on time right now, but Matthew 5:48 comes to mind as scriptural backing for God being the standard. There are certainly more writings than this one, but I have to go right now.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Louie, it wouldn’t make any difference if the bible was just one page saying “God is the standard of morality”. We’re talking ontology here, not epistemology. In other words, we’re not discussing whether or not the Christian faith entails seeing God as the standard for morality; we’re discussing whether it makes logical sense to say that objective morality could be grounded in the nature of a being.

        Reply
  3. Ed Vaessen says:

    “But these are the same friends who are pro-choice, support transgender bathroom choice, believe there’s no problem with sex outside of marriage, and think that not supporting same-sex marriage is bigotry.”

    Wikipedia has this to say about bigotry:

    The English noun bigot is a term used to describe a prejudiced or closed-minded person, especially one who is intolerant or hostile towards different social groups (e.g. racial or religious groups), and especially one whose own beliefs are perceived as unreasonable or excessively narrow-minded, superstitious, or hypocritical.[1] The abstract noun is bigotry.

    I suppose that the word bigotry is chosen well, as long as ‘not supporting’ means the same as ‘being opposed to’. So far, I never heard of any good reason why same-sex marriage should be opposed. I did however hear some very bad reasons, like:

    It is not natural;
    God did not mean marriage to be anything else than between woman and a man;
    It erodes the sacred institution;
    Children raised by same-sex marriage run into all kinds of psychological problems.

    And a quite a few more.

    Reply
  4. Marie says:

    Per DASA (NY), if a person identifies themselves as a specific gender, they are allowed to use the bathroom, locker room, etc. of that gender with which s/he identifies. So, a child in a public school who is a boy can say he identifies as a girl — no cross dressing required, no meds required, no surgery required — and be allowed to use the girl’s bathroom. Hope that clears up some confusion. DASA is based on a Fed Gov’t threat not to give education funds to states which don’t allow for gender identity as such. NC law is a bit different. Anyways, HTH.

    Reply
    • Marie says:

      I forgot. (Corrections needed!) DASA is also about bullying. The part of DASA dealng with gender identity is probably due to pressure from the Feds.

      Reply

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