Parents, are your children cowered into becoming frightened poster-boys of your ideology? Know this: fear eventually wears off. And when it does, they will search for sure footing and find none. They’ll wish you had been honest, upfront and gracious about truth, instead of focusing so much on fear.
Fear is appropriate when it walks alongside truth. But when it replaces truth, fear becomes an instrument of abuse, distortion, and resentment.
A child who is warned regarding electrical outlets will know both fear and truth. This is healthy. But a child who is threatened with monster stories, will one day discover the truth on her own and throw all caution to the wind. Her reckless abandon will be proportional to the fear once ingrained in her.
Children with fear complexes grow up with serious misconceptions. Here are three:
1. They can not articulate their beliefs. Society is curious by default and will question why they believe a certain way. Why do they prohibit this clothing, that drink, or that kind of music? Their answers will be variants of the worst possible thing that can happen. “Because rape…”, “because drunk beatings…”,”because demon possession…”. Bad is bad because it makes terrible things happen. They can not explain beyond that. Their principles are formed by reacting towards evil, instead of acting on truth.
2. They believe fear is a safe place to be. They are taught that the “world is out to get them” (though the definition of what consists of ‘world’ is a grey area). Home is safe, everything else isn’t. Fear becomes the norm. It’s no wonder we’ve seen so many cases of abuse stay hidden for decades within certain conservative movements.
3. They know more about sin than the Saviour. This is a tragedy. They grew up hearing of sin — society’s sin, their neighbour’s sin, their own sin. Everything had a direct relationship with sin. Sin, sin, sin. It’s a broken record, not a celestial choir. When Jesus is mentioned, He is never portrayed as Restorer & Rescuer. The cross is mostly God’s way of making you feel really bad about your sin. There is little victory. No joy. No complete forgiveness. Hope and glory are vague terms. Grace is rarely mentioned and never applied. They live with guilt, condemning themselves for every slip up.
There are many reasons why young people experience a ‘faith crisis’ as they start spreading their wings. Sometimes, it’s because they discover fear isn’t all it’s cooked up to be. When the curtain of fear drops, their shallow understanding of truth crumbles as well. “If mom and dad were wrong about the scare tactics, might they be wrong about everything else as well?”
Here’s the good news: Jesus focused on truth. Truth, after all, sets free. These principles never shake or crumble. We discover His victorious Gospel, and read of the cross, where He nailed our sins, “triumphing over them” so that we might be eternally forgiven. In Christ we learn how to rightly worship, live, serve and fear. His Word gives us a new name, new identity & new hope.
If you are still hiding in fear, please stop. There’s a safe haven in the amazing grace of a glorious Saviour. Yes, the world is messed up. Yes, you might have messed up. But His Righteousness outshines it all.