Thomas Jefferson fought for it. Martin Luther fought for it. They called it Liberty of Conscience.
Your teenagers will fight for it, too. They just call it freedom, and it will sound like this…
Don’t I have the right to…
It’s my body!
It’s not illegal, Mom.
But Dad, it’s not against the law anymore.
Liberty of Conscience
–the freedom to follow one’s own religious or ethical beliefs
This is not a new topic. In Paul’s day, the church in Corinth was known for its open, anything goes culture without limits. The Corinthians understood that the gospel brings a new relationship to the law but often they continued to indulge themselves in former sins, claiming this new liberty as their guide. As in Paul’s time, many believers still walk the line between the Christian world and the non-Christian world.
Paul gave the Corinthians and us this simple principle for evaluating our liberty…Does it profit others? Paul implies liberty is granted to us by God, not for our own indulgence, but so we might be free to serve others. This is a very different view of liberty than the commonly held belief today. We have a limit on freedom which is measurable and helpful.
Douglas Wilson often writes on this topic which he describes as “the intersection between biblical faith and pop culture.”
“There is no other area that I know of where there is so much personal consumption and so little personal reflection. This lack of reflection is evident with movies, music, clothing design, art, dance, literature, body modification, along with many more areas.” –Douglas Wilson
Read Douglas Wilson’s post, 15 Theses on Alt-Pinkery here.
One of our goals as Christian parents should be to create a culture in our homes of thinking, reflection, and discretion. Here are four conversations you can have with your children. They are summarized from Douglas Wilson’s above post.
- Culture is not possible without visible cultural expression. This is also true of counter culture.
- Clothes, hairstyles, jewelry, and other personal adornments are all forms of communication. Christians should be concerned centrally with communicating that which is true, good, and beautiful. What you say non-verbally is no more under your own personal authority than anything else is. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. This was Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 6:19-20.)
- There is never any neutrality anywhere. Every hair on every head is claimed by Jesus Christ, and is counterclaimed by Satan—and Jesus Christ has the only true universal claim. If something is not strictly forbidden, that does not mean that it is outside the authority of the Lord Jesus.
- The Scriptures teach us repeatedly how to conduct ourselves in the world. We are not told to be edgy, but rather respectable—e.g. “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…” (I Timothy 2:9) We are given these sorts of instructions in multiple places and there are too many to simply dismiss them without first dealing with the teaching of the authoritative text.
So, the question is not how far can I go, but is my heart turned toward God to obey him and please him? Is the liberty I seek for the profit of encouraging and edifying others? Or is my heart turned toward the world and my own pleasures?
And for parents–Am I creating a culture in my home of thinking and reflecting on Christ’s authority?
Choices we make in our home when children are young should create a way of thinking that leads to discretion. If the culture in our home is always on the fuzzy edge, it should be no surprise when our teenagers choose to mimic a rebellious society and step over moral lines.
“We as Christians are called to model a different way of being human, a way of being human that was lived out ultimately by Jesus Christ.” –Douglas Wilson
Read more of Douglas Wilson here.