“Mommy,” my oldest boy sets up his question as he suspiciously eyes his baby brother, “why don’t I have a sister?”
“Because God hasn’t given Mommy and Daddy a little girl; he has given us three little boys,” I quickly respond. “Maybe one day he will give you a sister, but for now you have two wonderful brothers to play with!”
He accepts my answer with little hesitation and moves on to the next “why” question on his list.
Yes, the “why” questions. We are right in the thick of them these days and though they can often be overwhelming in number and frustrating in nature, they provide many opportunities to clarify one’s beliefs and convictions.
For instance, the simple question of why we have three boys to care for and not any little girls. This, of course, is a question I have asked myself many times and one that is filled with painful memories of the little girl we lost a couple years ago (has it really been years?).
Knowing that God is sovereign and infinitely wise in his plan for our family is a great comfort to my soul because I know I can trust his decisions. It is also thrilling as I contemplate the future for these boys whom God felt would best be nurtured and raised by my husband and me. As I think about all the possibilities that lay before us, of all the joys and triumphs in their future, I become giddy with excitement. What will God do with these little men? How will he use them for his glory and the building of his kingdom? What will their role in the advancement of the gospel look like?
I have the privilege of raising three boys–three future men–for the glory of God and that is an incredible responsibility.
This isn’t to say that I don’t also struggle with the fear of raising three boys. Like all mothers, I struggle with fears for my children. I am forced to combat fears for their eternal salvation, their physical safety, and their health to name a few. I have no choice, but to daily bring my children before the Lord and acknowledge his sovereignty over their lives. He is the author of their life-stories and I can trust him to bring about his good purposes in every circumstance. This is an area where my personal theology–my beliefs and understanding of God–has had a tremendous impact on my everyday life.
Let me give you a practical example. One of the greatest fears I struggle with as a mom of boys is the fear that they will one day become ensnared by the lure of pornography. My husband and I have talked many times about the overwhelming responsibility we have to provide our sons with a biblical framework for their sexuality. We have discussed practical ways that we intend to guard their eyes from evil, sinful images they may happen upon on the internet or television or at a friend’s house. We have discussed the open dialogue we intend to have with these young men as they grow older and mature and deal with new and natural sexual urges. We pray earnestly for their purity and intend to provide every possible advantage for them in their battle agains sexual sin that we can as parents.
I am under no illusion, however, that these “advantages” or safeguards will be enough to keep this malicious temptation from effecting their lives. We live in a pornographic culture where women’s bodies are offered up to the lustful eyes of men in almost every setting. The objectification of women is rampant in advertising and entertainment, so much so that we hardly notice it anymore. While men of every age have had to reign in their sexual desires and submit them to the lordship of Christ, the battle for god-glorifying purity is harder than ever in our sexualized, media-saturated culture. As Tim Challies mentioned in a recent interview, it isn’t so much a question of “if” they will come into contact with pornographic images, but “when.” The battle before me–and ultimately before my boys–can indeed seem overwhelming.
Here is where my theology intersects with daily life and where the hope of the gospel calms my fears: Christ has overcome.
Like all descendants of Adam, my boys were born with the propensity to sin. They are bent toward it and not toward the things of God. Purity is not their first impulse, impurity is. Without Christ, their natural tendency will be to gravitate toward pornography because it provides an easy, self-gratifying outlet for their sexual impulses–impulses originally created by God for his glory and their enjoyment. Without inner transformation, their souls will crave and seek out ways to feed the idol of pleasure. As in all areas of life without Christ, their God will be self and their guide will be their appetites. This is the bad news. This is the news that scares me.
But Christ has overcome. In his mercy and grace, God has not left my boys to their own devices. They are not without hope and they are not without forgiveness. Our heavenly Father offers them inner transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to deny the natural impulse to sin, as well as complete forgiveness for every time they give into the temptation to lust. All they must do is turn to Christ and be saved.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness being accosted by fiery serpents (Numbers 21), my boys willbe accosted by sin and its consequences, but they will also be provided with a way of escape. Just as God commanded Moses to hold up a bronze serpent for the Israelites to look to for relief from their punishment, so God calls my husband and I to continually point our boys to Christ and his cross where they can find forgiveness from and restoration to their Maker. We have the responsibility to draw their attention to the same Savior who has forgiven us and liberated us from the chains of sin that we were also bound to.
Their propensity to sin is great and the consequences of sin are terrifying, but our God is greater still. Jesus, through his shed blood, has made a way for my boys to deny their sinful flesh and fight the battles before them. It is this truth that fills me with hope and joy rather than a spirit of fear. The same blood that covers me, must also cover them. Just as I have sinned, so they will sin. Just as I must battle against the flesh, so they will have to battle against the flesh. But like their mother, they will not have to fight alone. They will have the one who has conquered sin and death to call upon, and his name is Faithful.
Yes, the world our boys have been born into is saturated with opportunities for the flesh. Yes, the responsibility to raise pure, upright, and godly men in the present age is a weighty one. But what I know about our loving God and merciful Savior calms my anxieties today and gives me hope for the future.
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19, ESV)