Home and Recreation

Liberal Christian Values Meet Video Games

How do I raise Christian children when video games are so important to their childhood?

two boys sit under a tree looking at a phone with tents in background
My boys sitting at the fair looking at a phone.

I really wish the Bible was a little more helpful for raising children. Yes, I must admit there are some wise comments on parenting in there. Jesus said to let the children come to him. Proverbs has some good one-liners. But, I don’t find the Bible has much to help me navigate the specific daily struggles of parenting. For that I seek advice from my friends, counselors and on-line communities. Screen time and media are particularly problematic. I wish I could go back to a pre-technological era, or erase all video games and television from our lives. Since I can’t, I have to figure this out. We have rules that work for our family. Screen time is a hot topic. Everyone has an opinion, so I cannot add much to the debate except to say that video games are not mentioned in the Bible, not even once. Check me if you want. I’m sure of it. Here are some resources that I think you might like if you are wondering how to navigate modern life, Liberal Christian values and video games. Ironically, all my resources are on-line.  

The first three resources below provide ideas on how to navigate parenting in this complex world we live in. The third resource is targeted towards Conservative Christians. I always like to know where I stand in the gamut of Christian perspectives, but I included it because the article made me think of how hard it is for me to raise my children with my faith and values in this crazy world. When my children were babies, I asked a fellow teacher with teenagers why she allowed any video games or television in her home at all if she hated them so much. She said video games were a huge part of the children’s culture and that is how the kids relate to each other. If her son was excluded from video games, he would be an outcast among his peers. That crash-course in reality has been the pain of my life ever since.  

It was easy when my kids were young. I chose their shows and movies and games. Now that they have more independence I find it necessary to talk with them about their choices. Negotiation is a huge part of interactions and sometimes I just have to put my foot down. Screen-time limits are the biggest struggle. We also wrestle with avoiding mature content and whether to allow chatting online with other games. There are some games and apps that peers have, but we forbid on principal. Sometimes my Mom-voice has to come out and I say, “I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s my rule and I am not changing it. You have other choices available that you can enjoy.” 

Fair Play promotes a childhood free from consumer exploitation.

Common sense media has great advice on how to raise your child in a Post-Technological Revolutionary world.  

Ideas on how to raise children without technology exposure.

A summary of streaming services and television channels filtered for Christian content.  

Biblical Fundamentals Political Matters Sexual Identity

It is a mistake to say God doesn’t make mistakes

What should I do if my child says thinks God made them the wrong gender? Never Say “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.” 

I have heard people say “God doesn’t make mistakes” to children regarding questions about sexual identity. This is a terrible thing to say to a child who feels insecure and fragile about their self-identity! The child may think, “But I am a mistake.” If your child tells you they question their identity, tell them, “God loves you and so do I. You are not a mistake and I will be with you while we try to figure this out.”  

I am not going to tell you that you should support a gender transition. That’s a heavy decision and will require a lot of prayer and research on your part. Instead I am going to offer my advice on how to preserve your relationship with your child and keep them alive. One very important piece of information for parents to consider is the large number or transgender youth who commit suicide. Please see this article, which states that 40% of transgender youth have attempted suicide.   

Obviously, it is very important for parents to be thoughtful and attentive when addressing gender identity concerns in children. Gender dysphoria is a related condition in which children feel like their gender is somehow wrong. It is incredibly distressing to feel like your own body is wrong. A child may feel like they are a mistake or an accident. This can lead to distress, depression and suicide. Telling a child that these feelings are a temptation or a type of sin could be very destructive. Remember the intellectual age of the child. They may not understand what you are trying to say. Instead, they may get mixed up, thinking they are possessed or a spawn of Satan or something, even though that is not what you meant.  

Parents, if you feel like your child should not experiment, transition or otherwise explore their gender identity, you certainly have the right to say so. Furthermore, trying to hide your opinions from your own child is nearly impossible. Yet, it is important to always be gentle and to listen without criticism. The child is already in a fragile mental state. In any big decision that a child has to make, any feelings or questions that they have, it is valuable to discuss and explore all sides of an issue. Conversations with your child should include statements such as this: “Well, I have always believed…” and “What do you think?” “Why don’t we do some research?” “Let’s ask some other people we trust for their thoughts.” At the end of the day the child must know that you love the child and value their worth. Meditate with them. Pray with them, asking for the Holy Spirit and for wisdom. Tell the child you know they are struggling and you care about them.  

Be wary of those who push gender transitions too quickly, because this may not solve the dysphoria or depression. Some may think that being open-minded means immediately supporting a gender transition. But doesn’t being open-minded mean considering all perspectives and being liberal means accepting freedom of choice? There is so much to consider that as I write I am praying for the parents who may be reding this. I would like to lift up the parents trying to raise and love their children safe and happy and healthy and Christian through a gender identity question. 

I think there are a lot of Bible studies and research – both medical and Biblical – for you to look at to help you understand the issues of gender identity. I would encourage you to read broadly from scripture rather than focusing on a couple verses. Read the entirety of Corinthians and Galatians.  

I know many people believe the Bible is very clear about what is right and wrong, but if you really believe that, I have some thoughts for you to consider. Read the entire book of First Corinthians and think about the following points: 

1 Corinthians: 5 discusses a man who is sleeping with his father’s wife. I’m paraphrasing Paul here. He says you can’t avoid all the immoral people of the world, you would have to leave the world to do that. But, don’t be proud that you have a member of your congregation who would sleep with his father’s wife. Parents, would you compare your precious child with a man who was proud to sleep with his stepmother? Research the culture of Corinth and you will see that our children are not like the people of Corinth.   

1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20 addresses sexual immorality, but also explore 1 Corinthians: 7 which details marriage. Do you also agree with all of this? Specifically, it says that divorce is a sin, and if your spouse leaves you, you must not remarry.  

Next see chapter 11. Must a woman truly submit to her husband? Do you cover your head to pray? Is it a disgrace for a man to have long hair, or for a woman to have short hair? 

If someone spoke in tongues in front of you, would you believe they are inspired or crazy? See chapters 12 and 14. Speaking in tongues gets a lot of coverage.  

Do you agree that it is a disgrace for women to speak in church? 1 Corinthians 14: 34 – 35  

As you dig into the Bible, you will see that it is baffling and not as straight forward as we would like it to be. I don’t know about you, but I know I cannot figure all of that out. All I can do is try to figure out how to love my children and take good care of them through it all.  

Biblical Fundamentals Home and Recreation

Enjoy Life While You Can

Am I wrong for taking my children out when they could catch Covid?

When I was a kid I learned about germs and I was terrified. These invisible things are everywhere. They can get in your body through your nose and mouth. Sometimes they make you feel lousy and sometimes they kill you. So, you have to be very clean. Always wash your hands and never cough too close to anyone. My Dad found me hiding in my room, worrying that I would be like Typhoid Mary, whom I learned had killed a bunch of people by spreading her germs. I thought if I was very good I could save myself and everyone else, but the monumental task overwhelmed me. I couldn’t leave my room.

Dad explained to me, “No matter how good we are, people still get sick and die. That’s just how the world is. It sucks, but all we can do is enjoy our lives while we can.” Despite his passionate lecture (which was a lot longer and full of more colorful quotes than I have captured here) I wasn’t convinced so he licked his dirty hands! Then he said something like, “Now, I’m gonna go eat and watch tv and enjoy myself. And if I die then at least I will have had a good time first. Even Jesus said your time on Earth is short, so enjoy it while you can. You can’t live your life in fear, hiding in your room.”

I took my kids to a concert on Wednesday. They had the best time, but now my daughter is miserable with a fever. I started to flagellate myself for taking the kids to a crowded place – and without masks! But then I remembered my Dad’s wisdom. I gave her some ibuprofen. She is enjoying her rest time and she will never regret going to that concert.

Churches and Worship

Post-Covid Worship

I am afraid that too many churches will not live thorugh this pandemic. I am still struggling with the question: How will I raise Liberal Christian Children without a church? I suppose I won’t be raising my kids in church. When schools closed, I picked up where the teachers had left off. Reluctantly, I’m picking up where the church left off too.

Values were the easy part. We cover the Fruits of the Spirit every day from modeling patience, to encouraging kindness during dinner squables, to self control with those holiday goodies. We love others, masked and unmasked, regardless of race, gender identity or technological capablility. I am very blessed to have a spouse who shares my vision. My heart goes out to those of you struggling when your child’s other parent does not support your ideals.

Prayer, study and worship: those are tricky ones for me. But I can see that if I don’t teach my children to pray, to study the Bible, and to worship, no one will. We pray at dinner and bed. Now that I have run out of other resources, I pray that I can teach my children to study and worship.

Political Matters

Modeling Grace

Let’s model grace and forgiveness for our children. Sure, us liberals do not like Trump. Today, as the country transitions to new leadership we are pleased. Now, if Jesus had a Facebook page would he post mean-spirited memes of Trump getting a boot in the butt? Would he laugh at someone’s well-deserved humiliation? Nope.

I’m not recommending we forget. Never forget the capability of someone in power to act for evil or good. He still needs an Impeachment trial. Letting him have a go at the country in 2024 would not be wise or reasonable. But our children are watching us. They should see us bid the man farewell, dust his dirt off our aprons, and get back to our own business. We have real work to do: raising our children with hearts of gold, furthering the cause of the poor and oppressed, and centering on God’s will.

Home and Recreation Political Matters Teaching and Homeschooling

My First Retraction

Oh dread! It seems I have to issue my first retraction. Hopefully this is my only one. Keeping things in perspective, bloggers and other writers often do have to retract their words. Since I have chosen to blog about religion, politics and parenting my words are bound to ignite fires at times.

The words I wish to take back are: “Most homeschooling parents worry that their kids will go to school to pick up bad habits and join forces with a criminal element. I’m just afraid they’ll become Republicans.” This was hyperbole and relevant to the article I had written. In the article I explained that I was glad to teach government in a homeschool environment since I was able to influence the subtle biases and misleading student remarks that may taint the public school course.

However, the first problem with my statement is my children have friends who are from Republican homes. We also have loved relatives who are Republican. Treating the average Republican like a criminal element and a poor influence is an unhealthy attitude. America has become polarized in an incendiary way – to the point that some talk of Civil War. I do not want to encourage polarizing, nor rejecting my friends and family.

The second problem with this statement is that I would like my children to have the chance to think for themselves. Ultimately, like most parents, I selfishly want them to be like me. But, I believe in freedom of choice and free will. They deserve the chance to think for themselves. That’s why they will return to school when the pandemic is over and their friendships will be supported.

Some day my kids will bring home their significant others and it will be like Cover of movie

Political Matters Teaching and Homeschooling

Do I Really Have to Teach Government Now?

Here is how a home school mom teaches government. My children had been in public school until quarantine began. Since we were homeschooling for the first time in middle school, and we will probably return to public school when the pandemic ends, we decided to just follow the state curriculum.

Churches and Worship

Church has changed. What is a Liberal Christian Mom to do?

The world has changed, and I have some thoughts on parenting through this which I would like to share.

Churches and Worship Home and Recreation

How Do I Justify Suffering To My Children When They Are Suffering?

Tell your children you are sad when they suffer and God probably is sad too.

048_editChristians often ask “Why does God allow so much evil in the world?” and “Why do good people suffer?” There are some pretty good resources out there that attempt to answer these questions and defend God’s creation. I like the book “Letters From A Skeptic” by Gregory and Edward Boyd for tackling these heavy issues. But as a parent I have to break it down for my children.

Home and Recreation

Agnes Raises a Good Question

How far would you go to make your children happy? Would you buy them everything they want if you could? Would you let them do anything they want so long as it is safe? Would you forfeit your own dreams or aspirations for them? Some people would turn to the Bible for answers to this question. Some say the Bible tells us everything we need to know to live.