“No, you can’t come home!” / “You’re life is worthless” / “You have made your own bed, now lie in it” / “Unless you follow our rules, you are not welcome here” / “You have embarrassed your family, so we will embarrass you”….
These are just some of the things that I have heard parents of beautiful children, who have “gone astray,” tell their kids. I’ve heard it over and over and I’ve watched those children as they’ve processed those words. My heart is saddened.
My heart is saddened because the processing that I’ve seen of these words has taken these children into a place that Christ never intended for any of His creation to go. A place of rejection and pain…a place of loss of identity and sorrow…a place of jealousy and hatred…a place of hopelessness and fear.
My mind and heart do not fit into the mold of most Christians that I know. My mind and heart do not find anything positive or Christlike about the words above. My knowledge of and experience in Christ do not allow me to receive the above words as godly in any way shape or form. I know that this post may be controversial, but these things have bothered me for a very very long time and I feel that it’s time I talk about them. I do not intend to offend anyone, that’s not my goal….but I do want to speak what I have learned to be the truth from God’s word over this subject.
Jesus said that the most important commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31. We would never treat ourselves the way we treat other people, nor the way we treat our children sometimes. We would never want to be treated in the manner that, among some Christians, is an acceptable form of treatment for a child that has “gone astray.” We were not commanded to “love” if they obey us, or “love” if they walk in the right way, or “love” if they don’t sin…rather love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…
I very firmly believe that love trumps hatred / love trumps jealousy / love trumps rejection / love trumps pain / love trumps sorrow / love trumps loss of identity / love trumps hopelessness / love trumps fear! Love trumps everything that we could possibly get ourselves involved in. If love did not trump everything bad in our lives then Christ died in vain…His love trumped death – eternal separation from God! Therefore, Love trumps all.
So, why don’t we practice this in every area of our lives? As Christians we try to reach out to others with the love of Christ…sometimes knowing their past, sometimes not knowing their past…but each time telling them that Christ’s love covers all their sins and we try hard to reach out a NON-judging hand – so we can be the hands and feet of Christ in their lives!
So – why don’t we reach out to our children in the same manner? Instead what many children from Christian homes receive is – “you are not worthy”, “unless you follow our rules, we will not accept you” … this doesn’t compute to me! Where’s the NON-judging hand of Christ in those words or in that attitude?
Sometimes I think that family suffers the most at our “godly, loving, Christ-like, NON-judging hands” …. hmmmm, why is that?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer…maybe it’s because of the closeness (“closeness breeds contempt”), or maybe it’s because parents feel rejection from their kids when their kids grow up and no longer “follow their rules” or “choose their own path.” I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that the words spoken out of the parents’ pain are not words that heal their children!
I don’t believe in “tough love!” Let me say that again…I don’t believe in “tough love”!!! I don’t believe that is a Biblical concept at all!! Not even one time in my walk with God nor in my relationship with Christ did I feel a “tough love” from Him! The only love that I ever experienced from Christ was a gentle, sweet, wooing by His Spirit and a warm, accepting, embrace so powerful that it drove away all evil! That’s the love I have experienced from my God! Nothing “tough” about that!
I believe that “tough love” is a man-made concept that doesn’t really fit with how Christ loved me or how Christ loves people! So, if my goal in life is to become like Christ and to shine forth with the love of Christ….then why in the world would I ever show ANYONE a “tough love”???? That does NOT COMPUTE!! “Tough love” / Christ’s love = oxymoron – they are NOT the same thing! People respond to nonjudgmental love…Jesus said the greatest command is to love…then why do we do anything else?
I’ve heard people try to explain this away by saying “Well, I do love them, that’s why I have to be tough.” Hmmmm….how does that translate into love? I don’t see it! I see that if you love someone it is sweet and gentle and kind…not harsh and ugly and mean! The only tough thing about Christ’s love is that He loved us so much and that love drove HIM (not the other person) to the Cross! To love like Christ it may be tough, but the hardship is on ME, not the other person! I don’t fit into the “tough love” mold!
I’m very discouraged by what I see in the “christian world” right now – a lack of godly love. A total consumption with “my way” even under the pretense that I am doing this “because I love you” … to be honest…that makes me want to puke! If it doesn’t feel like love, then it probably is NOT love but rather driven with some other motivation.
I know we can’t base things on how we feel about something because feelings are unpredictable. However, I can tell you that how Jesus has made me feel with His love has never been tied to rejection, sorrow, or pain! His love has made me feel welcomed, accepted, worthy, embraced!
This is still food for thought for me, and this post will be continued…but for now, I have to say that I have come to a place in my walk with God that I totally reject this “Christian teaching” of tough love…it is not Biblical and it does NOT represent my God!