How to treat your child if they deny the faith?

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Matthew1344, Jun 29, 2017.

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  1. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    How do you treat your child if they deny the faith?

    I have a friend that is denouncing the faith and getting a divorce with his wife. He is 23.

    I started thinking about "what if this was my son?"

    Would it be a biblical move or unbiblical move to tell him that he is no longer welcome in your home?

    He has denounced Christ, the church, and family.

    Curious to what you men who are much wiser than me have for advice.

    I try to figure out "conflict answers" before the conflict comes. So that I am prepared and don't make too many emotional decisions.

  2. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Matt, as with all things like this, the details are not always known, so it is difficult to comment accurately. Speaking broadly, an adult child who denies the faith is still a member of the family. So long as the adult child is not flaunting their sin, or bringing it into the parents home, I do not see why they should be ostracized from the family.
  3. TrustGzus

    TrustGzus Puritan Board Freshman

    Seems to me such a child needs good Christian examples in life. Why remove oneself and grant an opportunity for them to say "Christians are unloving. My parents won't have anything to do with me."
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The specific sinful (or criminal) conditions that would dictate your precise reaction are contingent. If denying the faith is accompanied by threats to your safety and that of other family or church members, you will have to respond in a way appropriate to the 6th commandment, and the necessity to preserve life as much as falls in your power. That's just an example of not just offering a blanket proposal of open-arm acceptance.

    You may also not wish to invite sexual immorality under your roof, for example. Establish some ground rules as to what lines must be respected by the rebel, in order that he might continue in connection to your loving witness. If he only allows your love to be expressed in permissive ways, he means to dictate the terms of your relationship. You should not let this happen. You wouldn't let a 3yr old dictate it; why let the 23yr old?

    Of course, you want to maintain as much contact as you can, though you may by the circumstances be forced to regard the object of your love as an unbeliever--if he likes that identification or not. You want to keep matters as objectively defined as possible. Subjective definitions of love or respect or care are not going to do much good. Certainly, showing love, opening your doors as much as possible, and going out of the way to demonstrate commitment of time and other limited commodities, are tangible ways of showing genuine affection.

    The church--again, unless dealing with matters of physical safety--should be a place where the runaway knows he will be welcome to come and hear a word of truth--of warning, but also of gospel if he will receive it. He cannot be regarded as a Christian, if he has been taken at his word (in this case) and disciplined; but everyone needs the gospel; it is the only tool for spiritual renewal.

    If you hope for change, then prayer is your duty. You were always dependent on God; now that faith is being tested and exercised. Trust as never before the promise: "I will be God to you, and to your children;" and rest in the wisdom, goodness, justice, and mercy of God. But this is the prayer you are praying tonight, yes?

    This is the trust you are having now, I hope. The prayer ought not change the day you obtain your first affirmation or clear articulation of faith from your child. And, you shouldn't live in fear that a renunciation is likely or just a draw of straws; even as you pray for God to produce increasing faith and perseverance in your non-backslidden children.

    The only parents who may legitimately doubt of God's willingness to save or restore the child are those who have ignored or abandoned their hope and their prayer. Almost the only reason I can think of to stop praying in expectation of mercy is either the death of one's child, or the death of the one praying.
  5. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

  6. tangleword

    tangleword Puritan Board Freshman

    I have found Jeff Durham's "Concerning Scandal" to be helpful, especially point 4 below:

    What further duty is required of private professors towards heretics
    that are cut off
    If it is asked ‘What duty further is called for from private persons towards
    a person cut off?’ Answer. I suppose these things are called for:
    1. Abstinence from unnecessary civil fellowship, as, not to frequent their
    company, to visit them, to dine or sup with them, or to have them dining
    or supping with us, or to use such familiarity in such things, as [ordinarily
    is] with others, or possibly has been with them. So it is [in] 1 Cor.
    5, and it is no less the people’s duty to carry so, that it may be a mean for
    their edification, than proportionally it is the minister’s duty to instruct,
    pass sentence, etc.
    2. There would be an abstinence from Christian fellowship, that is, we
    would not pray with them, read or confer of spiritual purposes (purposely
    at least), nor do any such thing that belongs to Christian communion: that
    is, to reject him in that sense from Christian fellowship, and to account him
    as an heathen man or publican. In this respect, we cannot walk with an excommunicate
    man, as we may walk with other Christians. And in the first
    respect, we cannot walk with them, as we may walk with other heathens,
    that, it may be, are guilty of as gross sins upon the matter. For the Word of
    the Lord, puts this difference expressly between them and these who are
    simply heathens (1 Cor. 5).
    3. Yet even then prayer may be made for them. For excommunication is
    no evidence that a person has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, or that
    their sin is a sin unto death. And their necessities, if they are in want, may
    and should be supplied, because they are men, and it is natural to supply
    such. They may be helped also against unjust violence, or from any personal
    hazard, if they fall in it. And as occasion offers, folks may give a weighty serious
    word of admonition unto them, and such like. Because by such means,
    the end of the sentence and its weight are furthered, and not weakened.
    4. These that are in natural relations, ought to walk in the duties of them,
    as husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, magistrates
    and subjects, etc., for what nature binds, the church does not loose.
    5. Men may follow civil business, as paying or exacting payment of debts,
    buying or selling, and may walk in such things as are requisite for humane
    fellowship and society; because, though church censures are to humble and
    shame men, by bearing in on them their sinfulness, yet it is not to undo
    them, and simply to take away a being from them.
    6. Yet all these things would be done with them in such a manner, as (1),
    the persons may show their indignation at their way, even when they express
    tenderness to their persons. (2) It would be done in a different manner
    from what [ordinarily is] with others not under such a sentence, that
    so they may bear out their respect to the sentence, even when they show
    respect to them. Therefore, there would not be such frequency in meddling
    with such persons, nor would it be with familiarity or many words, and
    long discourses to other purposes, nor with laughing, and with such cheerfulness,
    intimacy or complacency, as is used with others. But, in a word, the
    business would be done, and other things abstained from. (3) When what is
    necessary is past, except it is on necessity, folks would not eat or drink with
    them at the time of doing their business, or after the closing of the same;
    because that does not necessarily belong to them as men, and by so doing,
    the due distance would not be kept. And this is the great practical [point],
    so to carry to them as the weight of the sentence is not lessened, nor they
    prejudged of what otherways is necessary to their being, but that so every
    opportunity may be taken, whereby their edification may be advanced.
  7. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior

    Durham is a helpful guide in dealing with the censured. I thought of this the other day on a thread discussing treatment of someone excluded from the Table (but still a member).

    Don't miss his point 4, which is particularly relevant to this discussion. As Bruce, and others, noted: there may be additional reasons to the church censure why one would physically bar a son (or like) from one's residence.

    The fact of excommunication by itself, however, is not sufficient to do so, because it does not dissolve the familial bond. I would deeply grieve if my son denied the faith and acted in the ways that you describe, Matt. But, as others have said, unless he presents some particular danger or the like, would not bar him from my home.

    He's my son and nothing changes his being my son. He may commit serious crimes that would be most grievous, but I would still visit him in prison because he is my son and nothing can change that--it is God-given. I think that Bruce's call to prayer in the matter is particularly apt and moving.

  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I thought of posting James Durham (Concerning Scandal [1659; Naphtali Press, 1990]) as well as cited above with the relevant pt 4 that Alan has underscored, but other things were going on. The 1990 version can still be found I think at James Dickson's shop in Scotland where a lot of copies ended up as well as on the used market; and there is my singular concession to ebooks in a Kindle version at Amazon. There is also a Lulu print on demand version I sell of a slightly updated text. There are links to the older editions at prdl.
    The dying man's testament to the Church of Scotland, or, A treatise concerning scandal (London: Company of Stationers, 1659).
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Continue to pray to the Lord that he will convict and open their eyes to the truth of what is being done, and that they know will always love them as your child, even if not able to condone the behavior, for is that not what Jesus told us about God in the Parable of the boy who went away and came back?
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