Before we discovered Netflix, Jamie and I used to watch reruns of the sitcom “The Middle”, a sitcom featuring a couple from Indiana and their three growing children. In one episode, the couple’s naïve teenage daughter Sue decided to sneak into an R rated movie with her best friend. When mom and dad went to confront Sue, she suddenly broke down, admitted she did it and gave every reason it was a bad idea, including hilariously wailing, “I wasn’t prepared for the mature themes,” before suggesting her own punishment.
If only our kids were so good at self-parenting! In Chapter 3 of Mama Bear Apologetics, Hillary Ferrer introduces an approach to spiritual discernment called “chew and spit.” Upon reading those words, I immediately knew what “chew and spit” referred to. We didn’t eat steak all the time growing up, but we had it enough that I learned what to do when your bite of steak was more gristle than muscle- spit it out as politely as you can, then continue with your meal. When you’re eating steak, you don’t throw out the whole cut just because of a little fat. Instead, you reject what isn’t good, and digest what is. We do the same thing with truth; we usually call that process “discernment.”
When our children are young, we make most of the “discernment” decisions for them. This applies to most areas of their lives. Our parents likely did this for us- they tried to only expose us to things that would help us, and protect us from anything that could hurt us. How many of us remember the “Mr. Yuck” stickers our parents put on anything in our house that was potentially poisonous? In our early childhood, parents sought to keep us from friends that were a “bad influence”, they probably limited which TV channels, shows, and movies we could watched, and tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to limit what kinds of music we listened to. And now that we’re parents, we are doing much the same thing. “Mr. Yuck” has gone away, but we put Parental Controls on their devices, put porn filters on our WiFi routers (opendns.com has a great service for this), and now WE’RE THE ONES complaining about today’s music. Netflix offers content with age limitations, and cell phone companies allow you to control and monitor which apps your kids use. All of these can be good things. However, protecting our kids while they’re young will not help them in the long run unless we give them the ability to discern the good from the bad for themselves as they grow older.
On page 51 of Mama Bear Apologetics, Hillary Ferrer says, “A mature, informed, discerning worldview does not need to fear the false messages that this world churns out if it has already been trained to identify which aspects to reject.”- p.51 In other words, as much as we would like to forever protect our kids from false messages, they will be more successful (and more spiritually mature) if they learn to discern themselves what is true and what is false. Part of our job as parents is to teach them the art of “chewing and spitting” to separate the meat of truth from the gristle of falsehood.
To help us discern what to digest and what to reject in say, a movie or song, Ferrer offers the ROAR method.
- Recognize the message- What point is the director, author, or musician trying to make? Is this in line with Scripture?
- Offer discernment- What good points are being made? Are the creator’s intentions good? What elements about the movie or song are bad, contrary to Scripture? What should we as Christians NOT agree with?
- Argue for a healthier approach- Give a well thought-out argument for what should be accepted as good, and what should be rejected as bad. (This is important! We don’t want our kids to simply reject what is false. We want them to know why they should reject what is false, so they can make these decisions for themselves.)
- Reinforce through discussion, discipleship, and prayer- Essentially, this means we continue to support our children through ongoing discussion, Scriptural teaching, and by praying for them!
Over the coming chapters, the authors of this book will apply this method to several commonly held beliefs and philosophies in our world. But next week’s chapter (Chapter 4), we will look at how to recognize “linguistic theft”.
Have a blessed week!