Is growing up in a Christian home an advantage to us, or a disadvantage?
We pointed out in our last article that children from Christian homes are beneficiaries of many advantages. The danger is when we let this privileged life make us spoiled rotten. In other words, instead of using our advantages humbly, gratefully, and diligently, we can let them make us lazy, proud and selfish.
This is the danger that always faces the second generation. After inheriting the fruit of our parents’ labors, we grow fat on them; we become indolent coasting on their spiritual capital.
This is a serious sin. The Lord thundered against the Israelites, “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.” – Hosea 13:6
We don’t often realize how serious this is, because we can be guilty of these same things and still seem “good kids,” unblemished by the wicked things “other” children do.
When many of us “good kids” think of the sins of Sodom, we think of flagrant debauchery and perversion (no danger of going there, we reassure ourselves). But this is what God actually condemned them for: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” – Ezekiel 16:49
And these are the most common sins of the second generation. This is why we have met Christian parents who thought it better not to teach their children about God or Christianity at all, so that they could “find God for themselves.” (Of course, this is not only an unsound, pragmatic hermeneutic, but contrary to the biblical model of multigenerational family discipleship, and the mandate to “Teach them to your children,” Deuteronomy 6:7).
Instead of throwing our inheritance to the wind, we need to identify our own weaknesses that keep us from going further than our parents. Here are the seven weaknesses that we believe are the most common and and debilitating to our generation.
We don’t fear God
We can sometimes rely on something else be “the voice of God” in our lives – pastors, leaders, Christian friends, even parents. God has established an important place for all of these in our Christian walk, but we cannot put them in the place of God. (And if we do, it’s not their fault: it’s the fault of our own idolatrous hearts.) If we only do right “because Mommy and Daddy said to,” we don’t fear God. It is the fear of God alone that should drive our lives. When that is in place, we will honor our parents, learn from the wisdom of our elders, and keep company with others who fear God.
The fear of God is what puts zeal in us. If we don’t have fiery zeal for righteousness, for spreading the gospel, for reformation, for serving others, for discipleship, for sanctification, and for every other Christian duty, we don’t fear God. If we wait for someone else to make us do right, we don’t fear God. If we complain that our parents’ strong Christian involvement in our lives makes us less eager to seek God and study His word for ourselves, we don’t fear God.
“You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deut. 13:4)
We don’t study the Scriptures to develop convictions on our own
“Man must think God’s thoughts after Him if he is to know anything. How does one know whether he is thinking God’s thoughts? To the extent that God’s thoughts are revealed to us in Scripture, to this extent can we think His thoughts after Him.” – William Blake (Foundations of Christian Scholarship)
Many of us are blessed with wise, biblically-literate parents and other leaders, but we still need to fervently study the word on our own, remembering that the ultimate goal is to understand the mind of God.
“…No one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture.” – John Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book VI Section 2)
Too many of us wait to be spoon-fed our beliefs by people who have already studied and have strong convictions. When it comes to our beliefs, we can’t let others do our work for us – God wants each of us to personally seek Him through His word.
“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
We don’t take our sin seriously
We all know that those who have been forgiven much love much (Luke 7:42,43) and protest that that’s why converted criminals, prostitutes, communists and such often have more zeal than we. They had “dramatic conversions” and know what life on the other side was like. No wonder they love God more than we do. We make the mistake of thinking we weren’t just as depraved and doomed as they. God may have spared us the opportunities to defile ourselves as much as they, but we had the potential within us. We must not think of ourselves as “those who have been forgiven little,” and love little. (Luke 7:47)
When tempted to compare ourselves self-righteously with “bad people,” we should also consider (in the light of the verse about Sodom above) that God might be more angry with our pride than with their perversion.
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)
Thomas Vincent, age 31, was one of the few Christian leaders who survived both the Great Plague and the Great Fire that struck London in 1665 and 1666. People asked him why good Christians died in those back-to-back judgments along with London’s most profane and rebellious moral criminals.
Vincent said, “If these judgments have fallen upon God’s people, we must know that they have their sins, which have deserved them; possibly some have begun to comply with the wicked in their wicked ways: it may be they were grown more loose in their walking, and formal in the service of God, and their hearts more set on the world. The sins of God’s people have more heinous aggravation than the sins of the wicked, being committed against clearer light, dearer love, sweeter mercies, stronger obligations, and therefore provoke God the more to wrath; thus he threatens his people, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, and therefore I will punish you for your iniquities.” Amos 3:2 – Thomas Vincent (God’s Terrible Voice in the City, emphases added)
We are “good” rather than righteous
Growing up in Christian homes, we’ve learned some pretty good theology and some wholesome family practices. We’re pretty good kids! Unfortunately, obeying the rules and repeating the vocabulary isn’t the same as being righteous. Even more unfortunately, being around a godly family and other mature Christians will not make us righteous. Righteousness is not contagious and it cannot be absorbed. It only the result of God’s individual sanctifying grace and our own strenuous personal effort from within.
We may appear exemplary young people, reflecting the mature beliefs and practices of the people around us, but it is only an empty reflection if there is no deep conviction inside.
We are comfortable
It’s sometimes hard to remember there’s a battle raging, when we’re safe in our cozy homes, surrounded by like-minded friends. If we insulate ourselves from conflict, risks, hardship, enemies, and the world’s needs, we simply relax in smug satiety and apathy. God called it “fullness of bread,” and judged Sodom for it. Being comfortable is death to the Christian’s effectiveness.
We don’t know how to respond to “the world”
We grow up knowing we are different – we weren’t raised to be “of the world” – but on reaching adulthood we don’t always know what to do with those differences. Too often, we respond one of these two ways:
1. We try to minimize the differences, so we won’t stand out. We want to be normal, “in spite” of having been homeschooled. The older we get, the more we push to be reabsorbed into the world, until we’re virtually indistinguishable from its own children. (Sometimes we say our goal is actually to infiltrate it and sneakily change it “from the inside” – so we learn to play by its rules, on its turf, using its standards, and always as the underdog.)
2. We try to escape from the world, rather than challenge it. Once we recognize our modern world as ugly, dark, cruel, and anti-Christian, we run from it and bury ourselves in fantasies of prettier times. We often retreat into romance novels and obsolete “romantic” pursuits, rather than embrace the battlefield we have been given and study to meet the challenges of our times.
Both of these unbiblical responses are a result of fear of the world, forgetting that our job is to judge it (1 Corinthians 6:2), disciple it (Matthew 28:19), and overcome it (1 John 4:4).
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Our vision rarely goes further than “holding the line”
We often think our parents have already done all the pioneer work; all the excitement and adventure and discovery was theirs. The truth is, our families’ Christian warfare has only just begun. Our parents had to fight for the right to raise their children to be soldiers. Now it’s our duty as soldiers to win the war. Everything our parents have done doesn’t give us less to do — it gives us more to do. Luke 12:48 says, “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
The duty of all second-generation Christians is to take their advantages and go further to conquer new ground — to make new biblical discoveries, to disciple new nations, to reach greater heights of theological precision, to root out even more worldliness of thinking and living, to have more obedient Christian families, and to extend Christ’s dominion into every nation. It’s not enough to not retreat – it’s not even enough to hold the line. We need to advance.
The motto of the “Great Christian Revolution” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was Semper Reformanda – always reforming. We should adopt this maxim, picking up where our parents left off, and then where the reformers left off. We are advantaged to have received their legacies as gifts and tools, and God will require more of us than He did them.
Interviewer: In your opinion and through your study and experience, what is a woman’s role in life?
A&E: A woman’s role is to honor and serve God, in the sphere He created her for. The Bible tells us that woman was created from the man and for the man (1 Cor. 11:9) to be a helper to him in his mission (Gen. 2:18). (Note: not to be his slave or property.) This is what God created woman for, and is the true essence of femininity: to complement and complete man, to be at his side in taking dominion of the earth. Men and women were created to be different — and those undeniable differences are glorious — but their distinct, complementary roles should work together to achieve one common goal. We believe a woman’s value and importance is in every way equal to a man’s, though her role is different.
Through the whole panorama of Scripture (and through most of history), we see the home and family as woman’s context. Home was not woman’s prison — it was her base of operations, from which she engaged in commerce, ministry, charity, medicine, the arts, and more. The family, though, was always her priority.
Interviewer: What are your views on women and education? Why?
A&E: We believe women should be highly, highly educated, in the right ways and for the right reasons. We encourage girls to strive for a broader, higher and more intellectually honest education than is available at most colleges today. When researching the higher-education options before us a few years ago, Anna Sofia and I studied college syllabi, interviewed students and teachers alike, spent time on several campuses, and then studied the way the best-educated men and women in history have become so. We concluded that colleges do not have the monopoly on higher learning, higher qualifications, and proper training. The historic fact is that the best-educated men and women of history have always been autodidacts: people who took responsibility for their own educations and were self-motivated. Brick-and-mortar institutions and pedagogues have never cornered the market on education, and we would love to see more young women think outside that box, taking the initiative to pursue real education rather than “schooling.”
Interviewer: Do you feel your lifestyle is supported by other Christians, Evangelical Christians, people in general?
A&E: Response to our lifestyle is very mixed, as we would expect. There are those who embrace it wholeheartedly, those who look at it wistfully, those who feel “judged” by it, those who try to misunderstand and misinterpret us, and the few who send hate-mail. However, we’ve never needed the affirmation of others in how we live — the affirmation of God is what we seek.
In a world where real manliness is stigmatized and real men are scarce, we occasionally encounter anomalies like Matt Chancey. We’ve known Matt since we were little girls and he was a remarkable young newlywed (with an amazing young bride), and each passing year has only given us more respect for him and his manly Christian example.
Today is our opportunity to show our support for the kind of godly man the world needs more of. The “Art of Manliness” website is about to name the Manliest Man of the Year, and Matt Chancey is one of their candidates. Now is our chance to honor a fine man, to make a statement about the kind of manhood we admire, and to help raise up another manly example before our young brothers. Vote for Matt Chancey today (voting ends December 14) and give real manhood the recognition it deserves!
In Jennie Chancey’s beautiful tribute to her husband, she describes what makes him a “manly man”:
In many ways, my husband is a self-made man. He has never followed a “typical” path but has eked out his own, meeting fascinating people and taking incredible detours along the way. Two years of junior college left him chomping at the bit for real life and greater opportunities, so he dove head-first into the world of law and politics as a teenager. Working as an intern for a law firm near Washington, DC, Matt lobbied for good causes and became increasingly disturbed by the lack of integrity and (yes) true manliness in the halls of government. He made another leap, starting his own business at age 22, doing research and writing while keeping chickens and hunting with black-powder rifle in the wilds of the Shenandoah Valley (he has long admired the great agrarian apologists like Richard Weaver and sought to emulate their ideals—manly men never just sit and watch the world go by).
Matt’s work branched out to include things as diverse as leading a two-week tour through Asia with 25 distinguished businessmen in 2001 and serving on the board of an organization devoted to helping refugees in Sudan. His service on that board grew with his love for Africa and the people there, and at least twice a year he can be found trekking into the wilds of Sudan and up the White Nile to bring relief to Darfurian refugees. In short, Matt is a far cry from today’s “metro-sexual” or video game addict. He is a true man’s man.
Matt reads widely, adding new volumes to our family library and constantly introducing his family to authors and ideas. Once a year, Matt hosts “The Gathering,” a much-anticipated event that honors one man for his contributions to American thought, culture, and theology. Guests of honor have included a noted historian, a principled statesman, and a great southern orator and pastor. For three days, the honoree is surrounded by men who pepper him with questions, learn from his answers, and honor him for his life. My husband’s desire to pay homage to real manhood shines through in each of these events. One year’s Gathering took place in England and Scotland, as Matt lead a tour through some of the greatest sites in Western history (and stopped in pubs that have been gathering places to greats like Cromwell and Gladstone).
He’d never sing his own praises, but, as his wife, I never tire of doing so. My husband can read G.A. Henty’s historical fiction aloud to our children at the dinner table and fix the brakes on a 1964 Ford pickup. He can deliver food and medical aid to a refugee camp on the border of Darfur and stand up in church the next week to tell about it. He can write a terse letter to the editor and compose beautiful poems to his wife. He plays piano masterfully by ear and sings with a wonderful baritone. His many facets shine in every situation, and he has never met a stranger. Because of his genuine manliness, our sons have a role model they can look up to on a daily basis, and our daughters have a hero for every bedtime story. Most of all, I have a husband I greatly admire, respect, and love passionately. He will always be my Man of the Year.
PS – The photo was taken in the upper Nile. My husband, cool as a cucumber in the 120-degree heat, demonstrates that it is possible to be well-dressed even in the far reaches of Africa. His companions are Sudanese freedom fighters.
Here are a few questions a journalist recently posed to us, with our answers.
Interviewer: When and how did you start your blog? What role did you think you needed to fill with it, what purpose does it serve?
A&E: We began “Visionary Daughters” three years ago, upon finishing our book So Much More, as a way to inspire and encourage other young women to think and live biblically. We want to see young women break free from the smothering expectations of society, to be visionary, to think outside the box, to educate themselves more widely, and to focus on constructive family relationships. We want girls to have an attitude of victory, rather than survival, and to understand the glory and vastness of the role God created for unmarried women.
We see a particular need for girls to build better relationships with their fathers, as the effects of this relationship spill over into so many other areas of their lives — they way they view God, the way they relate to men, the way they view themselves, the decisions they make regarding family, and more. In our generation, we are seeing a fundamental disconnect between fathers and children, and daughters are suffering from this lack of fatherly guidance, involvement, affection, affirmation, and protection. We’ve also seen committed daughters win the hearts of their indifferent fathers and build a wonderful relationship that transformed the entire family. In Malachi 4:6, the Bible instructs us in the importance of “turn[ing] the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” and that is one of the greatest goals of our ministry.
Interviewer: Who exactly are you trying to reach?
A&E: Although we’ve received overwhelming feedback from almost every demographic — young and elderly, men and women alike — our audience has always been other young women in the same stage of life as we (single). These women come from all different backgrounds, financial situations, and nationalities, but we are united in our commitment to being biblically faithful, intellectually honest, and consistent.
For those who have heard about “stay-at-home” daughterhood and are curious, we want to give an open, honest picture of how we believe and live.
Interviewer: Do you agree with other Christians who say devout, Christian womanhood and feminism are not mutually exclusive? Do you consider yourselves feminists?
A&E: Some define feminism as the belief that women have rights. We absolutely agree that women have rights — we also recognize that all rights must be bestowed by some Higher Source. Feminism is not the source of our rights — God is the author of our rights, as our founders recognized, and it was He who gave women property rights, marital rights, and divorce rights (for example), as well as laws that protect women from abuse and neglect. The feminist movement declared woman able to author her own, new rights — to be like God, determining right and wrong for herself. We stand for men’s and women’s original, biblical rights — we stand against the selfish autonomy of either.
Some define feminism as the belief that women and men are of equal value. We believe they are also. The Bible declares men’s and women’s equal standing and value before God, and teaches this more consistently than any other religious or secular doctrine. In Scripture, man’s work and woman’s work are equally valid — wifehood, motherhood, homemaking and femininity are not belittled, and women are not guilt-manipulated to live and act like men. On the contrary; woman’s distinctiveness from man is praised and honored, and her unique role is held vital.
Speaking historically as well as theologically, Christianity is the only social, spiritual and political force that gives women true freedom and power. It is the anti-Christian religions (including Marxism, Islam, and feminism) that demean, undervalue, and exploit women; throughout history, it was the Christian societies that truly valued women, protected women and honored women (insofar as those societies were faithful to the Bible’s actual teachings).
One major antithesis between us and the feminists is their insistence on egalitarianism. God is a God of order, not of anarchy, and He created spheres of sovereignty and hierarchies of authority. Thus we would define feminism as rebellion against God and His created order; a pursuit of autonomy; a fight for the right to get our own way. This is why we see feminism and Christian womanhood as mutually exclusive, and “Christian” feminism as an oxymoron.
More questions and answers coming up soon…