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How to Raise a Little Pharisee

3. In the area of politics.

I’m probably launching a hand grenade into the conversation here, but I’m going to do it anyway. I wonder if we are training our young kids, raised in Christian homes, to have proper respect for authority. I’m not simply talking about pastoral authority or the police and firemen. But people we may disagree with, such as our President or members of Congress.

If we’re constantly calling them crude names and joking and slandering public officials, if our Facebook timelines are full of that kind of thing, what are we modeling for our children? It’s humbling to think that what I do in moderation, my kids may do in excess.

Are we telling our kids it’s OK to disobey Scripture, and sin by disrespecting those in authority (1 Peter 2:17 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)]; Romans 13:1 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)]; Timothy 2:2).

My daughter Grace is eight, so she is not that fluent in some of the ongoing political discussions. But we have had discussions about certain policies and about the President and other public officials. In some of her homeschooling discussions, we’ve read about his path to the White House and the history of being the first African-American President.

I know some conservative Christians who would think this is a “sellout” or “compromise.” But I disagree. I think it’s important to first teach my kids to respect the office and the person holding the office. Now, there have been moments where we’ve had some discussions on the issues, particularly during the last campaign. I outlined a bit of what both candidates believed and why I was voting for whom.

But I worked hard to try to do it in a respectful way. Saying something like, “Daddy disagrees on some issues with this man, but I respect him and pray for his family.”

I think it’s important to teach our kids civility and grace at a young age. I’m not sure that we do this well all the time. We are still learning and growing as parents. 

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Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). For five years, Dan served as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including Teen People of the Bible, Crash Course, iFaith, Real, and his latest, Activist Faith. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area.