I was a spiritual orphan.
Born into a physical family, I grew up in a home that had the outward trappings of religion without the life-giving breath of inward conversion. Although my sisters and I were raised with a foundational belief in God, my parents had no spiritual well to draw from as they parented. During the Vietnam and Cold War eras of the 60’s and 70’s, modern psychologists like Benjamin Spock claimed to be experts in child rearing, and biblical parenting went the way of breast feeding and stay-at-home moms.
Psychology was in, and the Bible was out. The culture of the day, combined with the absence of a biblical foundation, meant my parents reared me solely on the basis of whatever sounded “right.” As I became a teenager, their inability to offer me a standard for right and wrong meant they were limited to “feel good” reasoning that weakened even their best advice. They taught me it was wrong to steal because it was against the law, not because stealing defrauded someone and offended a holy God. They taught me to tell the truth because lying was wrong, but couldn’t substantiate exactly what made it wrong. Without biblical morality, the best relational advice they could give was to wait until I was truly in love to have sex.
When I came to know Christ as my Savior the summer before my freshman year in college, one of the first evidences of spiritual life was my desire to read God’s Word. It was natural then, after my husband and I married and began a family, to want to implement the truths and principles of scripture into our parenting. We envied friends who had strong, godly parents as role models. While we both had a fairly good idea of how we didn’t want to parent, we lacked the knowledge of how to parent.
James 1:5 quickly became our parenting verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God also led us to a foundational passage in Deuteronomy 11 that captures the essence of Christian parenting.