Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parent Rights

There is a lot of reacting and overreacting in the church and in the world. Nothing new, right? How do you know whether you need to pay attention and speak up or whether you're just jumping on another fanatical band wagon? Pray, search the scriptures, talk to people. Do your research. Read both sides. Look back at history, even recent history.

Parental Rights.org is an interesting site that recently came to my attention. My friend emailed me about a ruling in California. I guess there was a lengthy discussion at Focus on the Family.

I really believe in honoring parental rights. Undermining or taking away the rights of a parent to parent his/her child, to my mind, is a last resort. But I also believe that we can't raise our families in a vacume. We need shepherds, pastors, friends, extended family, community, support networks.

I recognize that not all parents make the same choices. They have their reasons - often,good reasons. Having the freedom to chose is a huge blessing - something we should never take for granted.

I also recognize that some parents and families are a danger to themselves and especially their children. I'm not just talking about physical, emotional or spiritual abuse. Some parents so ill-prepare their children for life that they leave their children socially crippled - a very small percentage.

Parents and anyone who works with children will wrestle with issues of parental support and involvement. Whose role is whose? Together, how can we be the support network that a child needs? What do I do when a parent or a teacher or other person working with a child really doesn't appear to have the child's best interest in mind? And who decides what that child needs? Never simple, never easy. Never one-size-fits-all.

I'm posting this if you're interested. Personally, I'm not convinced that we can fight government intrusion into our personal lives with more government. Some people think that's the only way to fight it. Amending the Constitution is a big deal. Government involvement or intrusion in our personal lives, limiting or ultimately stealing our personal freedoms - is also a big deal. It doesn't work to say you can take that person's personal freedoms away but you can't take away mine.

If those freedoms disappear, it won't happen all at once. It may not even be out in the open. Things like that seem to happen little by little and seem perfectly justified at the time. At least, historically, that seems to be the pattern. Some people point to Germany before WWII.

I don't particularly like politics and I have even less faith in political systems but we've been given a government that gives us the privilege of getting involved - stewardship, if you will. If it doesn't affect you, you don't worry about it. If it does, you're more apt to take action. I think it's important to ask how will [any decision] affect us 20 - 30 years from now?

So the watchman stands on the wall and cries, "Beware! This can lead to that and that can lead to more. If we don't nip this in the bud 20-30 years from now we can end up where we don't want to be because we weren't paying attention." I don't want to over react but I don't want to be responsible for letting something of great consequence slip by because I didn't care or because I wasn't paying attention.

Sorting through the clamor of voices in the church and out is tough. There's always a battle to fight. It's a priviledge to pick and chose our battles as opposed to having to fight for your life in the midst of someone else's war. But don't just jump on every band wagon. Prayerfully do your research. Prayerfully take some time to think about whether you should support this and whether you want your voice to be heard.

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