Monday, August 18, 2008


Some Christians believe that they choose to accept Jesus into their hearts, or they choose not to. Other Christians believe that it's not our choice, but God's predetermination whether we will go to heaven or go to hell. Lutherans believe half of each. If we come to faith, we believe that it is all God's doing and God's gracious choice. If we are not Christians, it is not God's plan that we reject Him but entirely our own fault. This may not make sense logically ("Hey, if I can choose to reject Him, then I must be able to choose to accept Him!"), but nevertheless Lutherans are confessing what the Bible says about the matter.

Okay, probably most of you folks learned that in confirmation class. But now here's another aspect of the same thing. Some people will say that if our children are good or bad, it must be because the parents raised them right or botched something up. But that's not true. Other people will think that if our children are wretched or if they're wonderful, it's entirely chance (or God's will, or whatever). That's not true either. Rather, if our children are bad, we can attribute that to any number of things: the child's sinful nature, or something that God is allowing temporarily for the sake of a bigger good that He will work in the future, or maybe even sometimes mistakes that the parents made. If our children are good, however, that is no feather in the parents' cap. The catechism tells us that God certainly gives devout children even without our prayer, but we pray that He would lead us to realize this and to receive our devout children with thanksgiving.

We want so much to go on the assumption that raising kids is like making a cake. Do this, add a little of that, mix it in the right manner, and [voila!] you should get a certain result by following the particular recipe. Except child-rearing just doesn't work like that! Why not? Don't the social workers tell us to "do this, do that" and all will be well? Don't fellow Christians sometimes tell us the same thing? But like coming to faith, it's not a matter of reasonable logic. Whatever good God gives is to His glory, and we thank Him. And whatever bad may come cannot be blamed on Him but upon sin.

It's silly for me to take the credit when my kids turn out well. But likewise, it is freeing (in a way) to know that I'm not the one in control of the final outcome ... especially if someday things should not work out as I would choose.


  1. I have been asked by kind, well-meaning Lutheran friends, what I did differently with my child who is choosing to reject God. You think I haven't already rehashed in my mind a thousand times all the ways I failed as a mother?

    Thank you, Susan. Thank you.

  2. I was coming to believe these things before. But now I have three dear friends who "did everything right" (by all outward measures) and still have children who left the faith. I'm still praying for each of them that God be faithful to His baptismal promises. That doesn't stop the hurt, though (as you know better than I do). But now that I live with loved ones who suffer this pain, it's much easier to see that we do not "earn" faithful children by how we raised them.

    And then, when Pastor said something a few weeks ago (and what I wrote here isn't what he was aiming at) it just made me realize how we are comfortable with the [illogical] Lutheran answer to "Why are some saved and not others?" So why do we try to come up with a logical parenting answer to "Why do some children stay in the faith and not others?"