Friday, May 14, 2010

HOW FAR DO WE GO {in sheltering our children?}

I received a question recently from a thoughtful family who were wondering about the idea of "sheltering."

What impressed me about the question was, although the husband and wife were not sure where to fall on the issue- their search is for a Biblical response to the question. I respect that type of inquiry a great deal.


"Clearly there is an appropriate kind of sheltering.
When those who are opposed to homeschooling
accuse me of sheltering my children, my reply
is always, 'What are you going to accuse
me of next, feeding and clothing them?"
~R.C. Sproul Jr

Certainly sheltering our children to some degree is universally accepted. Basic protections in the areas in which the church and the world agree are rarely in question. For example, any parent would defend the need to dress children warmly in cold weather, to teach them to be careful around cars and strangers and so on. These are not just acceptable forms of sheltering- they are the difference between being a responsible parent or not.

The real question that is being asked is how far do we go beyond these socially accepted norms? How much should we "shelter" or protect? It's a great question- one every family must answer.

The word "sheltering" can invoke a lot of images before we even get talking- which is why you don't find that term discussed much here. Instead of battling pre-conceived ideas, why not stand for being a parent who navigates by Biblical principles?

Our goal should be to tie each of our decisions and rules to
the unchanging Word of God rather than to our feelings. This
requires us often to 'check' our own past experiences and desires
at the door to follow God.
We should continue to see a growing in holiness and a conforming to God's Word in our lives and the overflow of this growth should be evident in our families.

Whenever we guide these little hearts in the daily issues of life we should do our diligence to tie these issues to Scripture. More is taught as they see us conforming our will to God's Word than any other method.


To share an example of what I am talking about I wanted to share a story from a few weeks ago. This example isn't to give the impression that we've got it all nailed down, but to share what principle based parenting means to us.

One of our daughters saw a framed movie poster. She knows a lot of people see this movie- there are always posters, toys, product packages- you name it everywhere we go. Anyway, as she was processing our family's views she said:

"We aren't going to watch that movie- even though everyone else does- because it's evil, huh?"

I thought about it and said, "What does Psalm 1 say?"

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful... but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night... he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaf also shall not wither..."

"Right. I am not going to tell you that movie is completely evil. Satan is usually trickier than that- mixing "good" with evil so we will swallow it all down.

What I am going to say is that it was not made by godly men or championing godly principles. That is why we aren't going to watch that movie. We want to apply Psalm 1 in which God teaches us how to be strong trees. What movies fit this criteria?" Which of course had the girls naming movies by the Kendrick brothers, and others.

Do you see the difference? This could be called sheltering because it could be seen as "keeping our children from seeing" a popular movie, but it isn't that. It's principle based parenting- or Christian living. Conforming our lives to the Word.

We don't want to give our children a list of man made rules to follow from any "movement." We want them to be wise and discerning. We want them to learn how to apply God's Word to various issues. And we want them to know that

God isn't keeping them from something good-
He's offering something MUCH BETTER!
Strength, health, fruit, and life (Psalm 1:6)!


We want to feed their spirits with good teaching that encourages them to be sold out for Jesus. And teach them to keep their eyes on Him, not on what others are doing around them. There will be folks- sometimes even in the church that will cloak sin and call it liberty. Do not follow them.

1 Peter 2:16 says: "Act as free men, and do not
use your freedom as a covering for evil, but
use it as bond-slave of God."

We were once slaves of sin and couldn't follow Christ.
Now we are free! But we are to use our freedom
to be a bond-slave to Him, not to feed the flesh.


I wanted to share a few areas with you that we had to carefully consider early on- and the verses that have guided us. This isn't exhaustive and I certainly would be blessed to hear areas in which you are seeking a verse or areas in which you've found a verse that is guiding you. Iron sharpens iron friends.


"The righteous should chose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." Proverbs 12:26

"Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits. Awake to righteousness and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

Close parental guidance/ not leaving children to play alone-

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20

"The rod and sharp words give wisdom: but a child who is not guided is a cause of shame to his mother." Proverbs 19:15

What we watch and listen

Psalm 1 (used in example above)

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philipians 4:8 it applies to Witchcraft (a popular topic to watch or read about)

"Let no one be found among you... who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omen, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD." Deuteronomy 18:10-12

"A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads." Leviticus 20:27

God's feeling about the influence of witchcraft among His people is clear.

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or to the left; remove your foot from evil." ~Proverbs 4:24-27

Richest blessings to you!

Photos: The girls enjoying the pleasant Spring weather. Hailey receiving a birthday present from Grammie- sweet bath toys and stainless pots and pans were perfect treats to usher in a new year of toddler fun. A rare treat- the opportunity to lunch at a charming little Italian spot with hand painted murals, cloth napkins, fresh foccasia bread and simple entrees- so refreshing.


  1. Fabulous. Miss you all, it was great to see your sweet faces here!

  2. Rebecca- Such a beautiful and rich post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this issue. Just yesterday I was thinking about some choices that we as a family make, that cause other people to raise an eyebrow. This is especially apparent in what we do/do not let our kids do. It's so good to be reminded that it's a good thing to shelter our kids from the culture that works so hard to draw them in.

    Love the pictures of your girls. I can't believe how big little Hailey is getting. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that you had posted a picture of her as a newborn sleeping peacefully on a chair. Time goes by so quickly! I hope you and your family are doing really well.

  3. Love what you siad and how you said it! The peer preasure is hard ~ even as an adult! I like your thoughts on giving actual scripture for reasoning, never thought about doing that, as I don't think that quick! lol I am going to use that in my home. Like what you said about following others and keeping our eyes on Christ, so true. Thank you for the encouragement & your girls are adorable!!!

  4. I am ever convicted by your posts! It is so hard to keep myself(me and hubby really)consistent. I need to take these scriptures to heart and really think on them, pray and discuss with my hubby more about what we desire for our family and what we see is Biblical in how we do things, as opposed to just our "desires".

    So much growing I have yet to do!

    Lots of love,

  5. Going to post a few of these verses in my study so I can often call them to mind! Thanks, Mama Rebecca!

  6. Hi Lis'! I miss you all too. Think we need a Skype date. Received Jesse's post card today- it was a real blessing!

    Hi Serena! I know- the time has flown! Hailey just turned 2 and Faith just turned 13! Hardly seems possible.

    The Lord is really encouraging my heart again with Abram's walk. He stood alone and God was his reward (Gen. 15:1). Keep your eyes on Jesus sister!

  7. Hi Rebecca Lynn-

    Thanks so much for the encouragement. You're right peer pressure can affect us all!

    It can be especially tempting to look to others who seem to be blessed- with wealth, popularity or power. The Egyptians were an example of that for the Israelites. We must remember that sometimes God is simply giving those people "enough rope" (Gen 15:16).

    But for us we must continue to look straight ahead! : )

  8. Hello dear Sommer!

    Sister, it is day by day and step by step. So often it is the Lord that is growing ME and I seek to meditate on Him day and night (and put to death worldly pursuits myself), then as He impresses a verse on my heart I share it with the girls.

    Of course, as we memorize it then He brings the opportunities to apply it. He teaches us. And we not ourselves.

    We so often hear that consistency is important, but I say a Mama and Dada that open the Word and explain why they need to change something in their lives is far more powerful than doing it perfectly from the start.

    Much love to you dear one!

  9. Hi Kendra S-L!

    Wonderful! This is a good chance to mention that I messed up and typed Proverbs 19:15, when it is Proverbs 29:15- for the Rod and Correction. : ) My astute brother in law caught that one for me.

    Richest blessings to you!

  10. This is a beautiful post! How wise to continue to return to scripture as your primary research tool as you walk the parenting road and make choices for your family.

    This does raise a question for me, however. I know that you have a daughter beginning her teen years. Clearly, you ought to have standards for your household. However, how do you plan to mature your daughters to make such choices for themselves (at God's leading), rather than as a result of obedience to choices made by the parental leaders in your home (under God's leading)? Are you already seeing fruit that children come to this naturally, if raised in a home where questions are welcomed and answers, sought?

    I ask as a mom slightly behind you in this parenting walk, with a 10-year-old daughter. It concerns me that I continue to see her making most choices as a result of seeking to obey US rather than in a spirit that is seeking God's best and God's will. I do understand that her obedience to us IS fruit, but I suppose I was hoping to see evidence of the inner compass of the Holy Spirit at this age. Hmmm...

    I thank you for this thoughtful post! I'm always glad to find you have written something new, because you challenge my perspectives! Blessings!

  11. That is so funny, I was working on a post today about sheltering verses legalism for my blog today. I will have to put a link to your blog post! Of course, I don't know when I will get around to publishing it.

    We do need to shelter more than just basic needs, for sure. But where to draw the line???? That can be a little harder, even with Scriptures. We must pray for guidance.

  12. I was just pondering some of these various questions in my head. Outside influences affecting my children has been a trail lately discerning where they come from and if it's their flesh or unsaved family..... Where do I draw the line with extended family? God had been pointing me to all the right directions as long as I am listening and obeying ,I hear Him, Amen! God uses His word and dear people like you willing to speak truth even when it may make our flesh squirm!

    A Family member just asked me recently.. "so when are you going to let your kids got to public school to socialize?" My response was how about I choose the kids my kids socialize with than letting someone else do it for me.
    I think Ken Ham said it best when he said " Where in the bible did the Israelites send their children to the Philistines to be taught."

    Thank you for your words Rebecca! Kelly K :-)

  13. Rebecca, you are so wise!! :D I love reading your words of wisdom. Thank you so much for this post, I found it so encouraging. I completely agree with it all!!! xoxoxo

  14. Dear Anonymous friend,

    While I certainly cannot predict exactly what that future transition will look like, I truly believe that principle-based parenting is our wisest course in meeting the goal you bring up.

    As we day by day (Deuteronomy 6) walk with our children we are equipping them for the time in which they need to navigate for themselves. They will not know every answer, but they will know Who does and where to go for wisdom.

    That is the example I was given when I came to faith and what I hope to pass on to them. I remember times when I was so confused about what to do in a given situation and a more mature sister would suggest that I pray and ask God to show me a verse that applied. I would think- I don't think there is a verse about this, but ok. I will try. And lo, and behold there would be one.

    As they get older, we do need to encourage them to ask God themselves. He is faithful.

  15. Dear Karen,

    You too bring up a good point. And you are spot on- we do need to pray for guidance, but I'll tell you that I have found is by loving others and using the Scripture we are kept from legalism!

    We must not condemn what God has not condemned and so we are kept in His 'safe zone' if that makes sense.

    It is still not always easy. Sometimes we have had to look hard at a situation and say, well it's not what we would choose, but we cannot clearly call sin and so we will not.

    "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." 1 Corinthians 10:23.

    You may find that another family makes different choices than you. If their choices are lawful we must accept that and not add to God's law.

    Hopefully our personal goal will be to live in a way that edifies and builds up. That as we make choices we will consider the body at large and not just our "liberties."

    Blessings ladies!

  16. Hi Kelly-

    I always love to hear from you. Yes- that can be tough.

    As you probably imagine- we have often chosen a different path which has it's consequences. We've had family members upset at us for all sorts of things- once even because we weren't pretending Santa Claus with our kids at home. (We just always promised the kids we'd tell them the truth- crazy, I know!)

    We do try to live in peace with all men, but that is not always possible (usually, but not always).

    We seek to stick firm to our convictions, but we give on other things- like letting Grandma fill the kids up on candy a couple times a year. Why not.

    When playing with extended family I am careful to help the kids interpret things- for example if the kids are playing and they accidentally get hurt, I make sure to let them know that, "I'm sorry that happened. It was an accident- you know they didn't mean to hurt you." But if there is a child that intentionally hurts, we must step in and at times even keep our distance from them.

    Remember that no one is going to agree with you all the time. There were people who probably wanted to you to deliver or nurse a certain way. It starts that early!

    But in the end we must be true to God and what He has called us to. The truth is that these trials sharpen us and drive us to Him. He is working all things together for your good.

    Love to you!

  17. I loved this post so much I just linked to it from my blog. :) Hope you don't mind!! xo

  18. Thank you dear Saminda! Of course- always blessed by you. : )

  19. Dearest Rebecca~

    Thank you for your encouraging comment to me. I find that I am learning so much being a parent...and it sure isn't easy sometimes.

    I find your blog one of the most encouraging/growing places for me to come to. I honestly wish we lived closer...I'd love to come have a cup of tea or coffee with you and just grow a friendship with you.

    There are so many wise thoughts here in your blog posts, but also in the comments, both from you and some of these other ladies! I am learning alot that is for sure :-)

    Lots of love,

  20. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I agree with you on every point. It's good to hear of like-minded families; it's so encouraging!

  21. Praise the Lord for such encoragement Rebecca! I love you and can't wait to meet you one day. Thank you for spending the time to train us younger women...encouraging us. Truly a blessing.

  22. I was referred to your blog from a friend. We are raising 4 girls, and appreciate your insight. Love this post. It truly resonates with me.

  23. Hello Candice- Thanks so much for your comment. Agreed- I know just what you are saying. : )

    Thank you Debra! You are such an inspiration yourself. It must be a birds of a feather type thing. : )

    Welcome Erica! Thanks so much for taking the time to introduce yourself. So glad to hear from like minded friends.

    Hi Shane! Thanks brother. Love to you and your cute brood!

  24. Thanks so much for your insights on this Rebecca! I almost missed it. Your blog "fell off" my bookmarks list completely by accident. Only today it occurred to me I hadn't been here in a while and I had to search and search to try to find your blog in the great big internet.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us younger mommies!

  25. I needed this. I love how the Lord uses others to minister at just the right time. We just adopted our little girl and we have received flack over certain issues and I needed encouragement to do the right thing. I'm so thankful for you and His sovereignty.

  26. So glad to see you here Babychaser! And thanks for your sweet comment.

    Jessica- So glad the Lord used this to minister to you. It is so tempting to fear man, but that truly is a snare to us (Proverbs 29:25). Congratulations on your recent adoption! How wonderful. Richest blessings to you!