I don't pretend to be immune to this phenomenon; and I confess that I even went through it myself a couple years ago (I do think God has brought me past it at this point - but I'll leave that to the reader). This situation has been seen a lot recently within the church due to the advent of the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement. But I think a similar thing is going on in our culture with regard to politics. Perhaps it would be called the Young, Restless, and Libertarian.
I'm not here going on the offensive against the libertarian system. I have many Christian friends with a libertarian viewpoint in regard to politics, and they are not the aim of this post. My aim has to do with those who claim libertarianism while still being in that cage stage where they can hurt themselves and others.
A chief case-in-point is an article I came across the other day entitled, 6 Ways Parents Teach Their Children Socialist Values (shared on Facebook a mere 3.5 thousand times). Now I agree that parents often do inadvertently teach their kids socialist values. But the author of this article is not giving a Biblical worldview assessment of that situation nor in the answers he proposes.
I don't know if he's a Christian or not (Reformed or otherwise), but regardless I do believe his article needs to be addressed.
In the article he lists these six ways in which he thinks parents teach their children socialist values. Let us evaluate them in order:
Forcing children to share is the laziest form of parenting. A parent hears two children fighting over a toy and comes into the room yells at the children to share the toy and walks out. Parents who do this are teaching their children that whenever someone comes to steal your possession you should just give it to them. If you hold onto your property, then the authority will come in and punish you.
Never mind the overstatement of the "laziest form of parenting" (with this zinger and a couple others, I wonder if the author himself is even a parent). But to be honest, I do agree that teaching our children to share, without any qualification, could lead to a socialist understanding of the world rather than one that promotes private property - but it doesn't have to.
On the one hand Scripture teaches us not to steal (Ex. 20:15) and that whoever is not willing to work doesn't get to eat (2 Thess. 3:10). There is absolutely no room for a socialist economy in a Biblical worldview. However, when it comes to personal ethics, we are also commanded to do honest work that we may have something "to share with anyone in need" (Eph. 4:28).
Sharing in itself is a vague concept that can be understood in more than one way. For instance, it could mean being told (by threat of force) to distribute evenly among parties, or it could mean voluntarily giving up one's own resources for the sake of another. Until a certain definition of sharing is determined it's going to be impossible to truly evaluate in which situation parents truly should teach their children to share.
But this was the least of my worries with this article...
What's the next thing parents supposedly do to instill socialist values in their children?
When a parent says, “because I said so”, they are teaching their children blind obedience. This is also a form of lazy parenting. It reinforces the idea that a child has no say in their lives. They are supposed to obey authority no matter what. As children grow up hearing this phrase it results in some of the most heinous of crimes and the defense is, “I was just following orders.”
Blind obedience is not in itself wrong. It matters very much on the one whom you're obeying. Let's not forget that when the Lord delivered the Israelites out of Egypt He gave them the law to follow with the reason behind it again and again being: "I am the Lord" (see Lev. 18:4, 5, 19:27, 20:8, 22:31).
Often times we do not know or understand the reason for God's commands (Gen. 22:1-14 being a prime example; cf. Heb. 11:17-19); yet we are still supposed to obey Him. As it is written: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). Let's not forget we are to "blindly" trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding (Prv. 3:5).
Teaching our children to obey God (and as far as we are obedient to Him, to obey us as their parents) is not teaching socialist values at all! It's teaching Biblical values: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Eph. 6:1)!
Obviously, blind obedience to the government is not godly (Acts 5:29); but as far as the government is carrying out God's commands in the sphere of the civil magistrate, we are commanded to obey the magistrate as well (Rom. 13:1-7).
Blind obedience to just anyone? No. But blind obedience to the Lord - absolutely!
Let's move on though: what's another way parents teach socialist values to their children?
Sometimes when a child is not obedient, it is easy to use unnecessary force to obtain compliance. When punishments are too harsh a parent can usually manipulate a child to do almost anything. This teaches our children that punishments can never go too far. After growing up with harsh punishments it is no wonder majority of Americans agree with government torturing prisoners.
It's odd that the author of the article never defines at what point the force is unnecessary or even what constitutes a "harsh" punishment. But in his "solution" it appears that virtually any force is unnecessary or harsh when it comes to parenting:
There are natural consequences to every action that we take. As parents, we should try to mimic these natural consequences. If Johnny hits his sister, then he is not allowed to play with her. This is a natural consequence. This way children will grow up to become more sensitive to injustices in the world.
Is it just me or doesn't it make sense that if Johnny hits his sister he's already established that he doesn't want to play with her? Not being able to play with her is a reward for his hitting her, not a punishment. This won't in any way teach children to be more "sensitive to injustices in the world." It will teach them that illegitimate force is a way of establishing yourself as superior.
The Biblical way to parent Johnny for hitting his sister is to "spare not the rod" (Prv. 13:24, 29:15, 17). In other words, actively discipline your children (teaching them obedience to God and their parents). Passively allowing Johnny's "punishment" for hitting his sister to be "she won't play with him" is lazy parenting. And it's absolutely unbiblical.
Let's look at yet another way parents supposedly teach their children socialist values.
A school-age child wakes up, and they go to school for 8 hours. At school, they are told what to read, what to watch, and what to study. Then they go to sports practice where they are told how to play. Then we wonder why they sit around “bored” all the time. They are never given the opportunity to explore their own decisions. ... Give your child more freedom! Let them decide what they want to learn. Let them decide what they want to play. ... Children naturally will learn to take responsibility of their time.
I'm failing to see the connection between parents being cognizant of bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) and by so doing teaching them socialism. The Bible tells us that "folly is bound up in the heart of a child" (Prv. 22:15) and that unless regenerated by God's power the intentions of their heart are only evil continually, even from their youth (Gen. 8:21).
With that in mind, are we really to believe that what they "decide for themselves" to learn or to play are going to be good or godly choices? Leaving children to their own devices will not teach them how to "naturally" take responsibility with their time - they will naturally (by nature of their sinful estate) learn to squander their time on ungodly things.
But on to more ideas on how parents teach their children socialist values...
Chores Without Compensation
Many children are given weekly and daily chores with no compensation. Some parents say that they pay their children with rent and food. It is not true because if the child does not do the chore then the parent will still provide the rent and the food. This reinforces socialistic values that no matter what you do you will be provided housing and food.
There are too many assumptions in this to get into any real depth of a reply. As already stated above, Scripture does teach that if someone is not willing to work he does not get to eat, assuming an adult audience of course (2 Thess. 3:10).
It is certainly good to teach your children a sound work ethic - Solomon did (Prv. 6:6-8). But there's nothing wrong with having them complete chores around the house without any compensation. They are, in fact, part of the family. And being compelled by their parents to clean up after themselves and/or others is a matter of family governance. Perhaps this will allow parents to explain the difference between family government and civil government.
Compensation for chores is great. But not to give them is a matter of parental authority, not civil government indoctrination (at least not by necessity).
Lastly...parents are supposedly teaching their children socialist values by...
In a socialist society, there is no choice. Parents who do not give their children options are reinforcing the value that the authority knows what is best for the individual and that the children should rely on them for that decision. ... Give your children freedom of choice. When they eat breakfast, let them choose what they are eating. When planning a vacation or going out to eat, allow the children to have a democratic voice in the decision making.
See "Managing Play" and "Teaching Obedience" above. Usually parents do know what is best for their children (just as God always knows what's best for us). And, again, in Scripture we are never told to rely on our own sinful selves but rather are commanded over and over again to rely on God - our ultimate authority - for every decision we make (Prv. 3:5).
Besides, the main point of parenting is not to teach your children about democracy; it's to train them as disciples of the Lord (Deut. 6:4-7). It's to teach them the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; how He expects us to live individually, in families, and in society; how He expects us to govern ourselves, our families, and our societies; and how He empowers us to do those very things.
Does this include a representative form of government with a market-driven economy over against socialism? Absolutely! But to think that teaching your children the above is somehow teaching them socialist values...I don't buy it.
There is, on the other hand, a great danger in not teaching your children to obey, in not using any kind of force when necessary, in not managing their play time, and in giving them limitless options - in other words, in not parenting! As much as we love our children we need to remember that they are sinful in their nature with folly bound up in their heart. They need guidance, direction, authority, the discipline (including "the rod" of force) and boundaries - even in play time.
It's ironic to me that the one thing the author doesn't point out as being a method of teaching our kids socialist values is the very obvious one: sending them to government-mandated, government-sponsored, government-run schools, paid for by all citizens for the "benefit" of all - talk about socialism!
I advise my young, restless, libertarian friends to settle down and think through these things from a Biblical worldview. Parenting is a matter of family governance, not of civil governance. It's a crucial aspect of the Christian life that we don't confuse the two.
I'm a sinner saved by God's amazing grace through the the precious blood of Jesus Christ and the glorious quickening of the Holy Spirit.
For timely updates, "Like" Lord over Life on Facebook.