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Head of School Thoughts

Helping Your Children to Sin

Wait, did I mean to write that?  Yes; hear me out on this.
The influential 20th Century American theologian, Reinhold Neibuhr, once succinctly described the fallen nature of humankind by pointing out that “sin is not necessary, but it is inevitable.”  By this, he was making the case that sin is a choice; we don’t have to sin; we are not forced against our will to sin.  But, nevertheless, we ALL do sin; it is inevitable.  All of us.  Every one.  About 800 years before Christ, a prophet named Isaiah put it this way, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isa. 53:6).  In spite of all of our technological and scientific advancement, not much has changed in nearly three millennia.  We all do bad stuff and fail to do good stuff.  And we will do bad stuff and fail to do good stuff.  This is an admission, not an excuse.


Several years ago, as I was getting ready one Sunday morning, the television was tuned to a preacher.  In the middle of brushing my teeth, I heard him say, “It’s important for parents to help their children sin.”  Capturing my attention, he went on to make the point that, just like us, regrettably our children are going to sin.  Since it is not a question of “if,” the challenge for us as parents is to help our children when they do sin – to help them to accept responsibility, to teach an understanding of “godly sorrow,” to practice repentance, to seek reconciliation, to experience forgiveness, to grow through consequences, and to make restitution when possible.
Isn’t it interesting that a person whom God described as “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14), was one of the worst sinners around?  King David messed up badly, but listen to the words of this song:

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found;

                                        Psalm 32

What is worse than sinning?
To sin without a conscience and without remorse.  

I believe  this  is what  the Apostle  Paul  had in  mind  when  he wrote  about  “godly sorrow”  leading 
to repentance.  So, our children are going to sin; yes, every one of them (just like us).  The challenge is for them to also know what to do when they cross that line and do what is wrong or when they fail to do the good they should have done.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want any of us to sin.  God is not a sentimental grandfather that just acts as if his grandchildren don’t do anything wrong.  All sin, unless forgiven, will separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1).  Are we teaching our children by words and example the path to forgiveness?

And a final thought – isn’t it interesting that God identified David as a man after his own heart when David was just a teenager!  Look it up.  That description of David was made in Isaiah 13, several chapters before he distinguished himself in confronting Goliath.  God is calling our youth to be people with His Heart, even though they do sin just like their parents.