In our recent article on betrothal, I mentioned that many homeschooling parents insulate their children without, but fail to insulate them within. We have received a number of inquires as to how parents should go about insulating their children within. After asking the question, most correspondents offered answers that were quite accurate. It is clear that they were not inquiring out of ignorance but out of a desire for us to more fully express a reality that is already evident to them. Parents are realizing that their children need something more than just good fences if they are to remain separated from the world. Homeschooling has now been popular for about twenty years. It is just one aspect of a movement to reclaim the family. We parents have said, “Stop the world; I want to get my kids off.” We know that every fiber of American society has become hostile to raising a godly heritage. There was a time when the public school was enemy number one. Today, the public churches have also become enemies to a godly seed. I do not know of any church youth group that has produced holiness in the community. But I have heard of many cases of fornication, drugs, rebellion, and homosexuality coming out of the weekly youth gatherings. If you haven’t panicked, there is still time. So for nearly two decades there has been an increasing number of refugees joining the retreat to homeschooling, and some to home churches. Get out of the world! Flee! Save your kids! Get rid of your television. Stay away from the malls. Guard what you read. Be careful of your associations! Insulate your children from the world. The Pearls started their flight 30 years ago. We began homeschooling and separated ourselves from social, commercial, and institutional evil. We were misunderstood and criticized for not allowing our children to go to Christian youth events, for not celebrating Xmas, for not allowing them to spend the night with a cousin or Christian friend, for censoring music, and for dressing modestly—just to mention a few. “Christians” were and remain our greatest enemies. Our children are all gone except one daughter, yet Deb still gets to the magazines first and exercises her censorship rights. I don’t care what the article is, if there is an unclad female on the other side, I won’t get to read it. There will be a hole torn in the page. This is what I referred to as “insulating your children (and husbands) from without.” It is needful, but not sufficient. Many parents do a careful job of quarantining their children from the world, but fail to inoculate them against eventual and inevitable exposure to evil. Parents somehow think that if they can just keep their children isolated until they get to be older teenagers then the danger will have passed. If we protect our children until they are old enough to leave home, but fail to prepare them within to triumph over the world’s alluring environment, we have not protected them at all; we have actually made them vulnerable. An unused character can grow as weak as an unused limb. Worldliness is not a condition of the world; it is a condition of the soul. When we isolate out children from the world, we may forget that they are already infected. Children are born with, and become carriers of, the disease of carnality. The protected and separated home differs from the world only in degree, not kind. The flesh of every child and every criminal is identical. As a child matures, his flesh becomes increasingly vulnerable to every carnal opportunity, and, as you know, society secretes opportunities to sin. The air is filled with it. The world is a carnival, and every child a potential customer. You can police your small children for a while, striking down opportunity when it tries to slither into your family circle, but as children get older they develop a curiosity to meet with opportunity, to listen to its pitch, as did Eve. The Bible calls this budding understanding, “knowledge of good and evil.” God possesses knowledge of good and evil, and it is essential to humanity that we also develop such knowledge. This understanding slowly develops in the child as his moral faculties mature. Life is a test of one’s temperance and self-control. One can know good and evil from either side of the issue. God would have us come to this knowledge standing on the side of good and looking on its opposite—evil. But like Eve, the human race tends to plunge into evil, and thereby know good only by its absence. Be aware, children that are “good” but untested do not necessarily possess character. It concerns me to see godly young people marrying “good” kids that have never had the opportunity to have their characters tested. I look at some of these 18-year-olds that have been cloistered all their lives and I know that no one, not even they, know who they are. We frequently hear of “good” kids suddenly “going wild” when they get about 15 to 18. Just recently, a long time friend of our family lost one of his “nice” daughters to a heathen. She is his oldest daughter of more than 12 kids. She was well protected and guarded from evil all her life. Then one day, while awaiting betrothal, she met a cool creep. She “fell in love” immediately. She was not deterred by his unbelief and impurity. It was all so “exciting” and “wonderful.” “Surely any thing that feels this good must be goodness itself.” In that case my dog is good twice each year. On another occasion, a preacher’s daughter, 16 years old, had a fight with her father. She went for a walk to cool off and met a sympathetic young man that “understood her.” He “knew how she felt” and gave her comfort and assurance. It was a dream come true—until after her bastard baby was born in a shack, and she later discovered that her cool, understanding, and sympathetic lover was copulating with his step mother. She was a preacher’s daughter, homeschooled, with no television or videos, long dresses and no pants, long hair, head coverings, and life in the country. But the above story didn’t end with the ruin of the older daughter. When her parents discovered she was “seeing” this young man, they sent the younger sister along to chaperone. She practiced voyeurism, watching the two “lovers” love. She didn’t follow in her sister’s footprints. She made her own, and they sunk deeper into sin. So how do we insulate our children within? How do we prepare them to stand in the evil day? The child is insulated within when he holds a mature and tested world view by which he can wisely discriminate between good and evil, and when he has the will to choose the good, even when doing so is without pleasure. In other words, your child’s last line of defense against the incursion of the world is to hate the world and love righteousness. Before I offer practical examples of how to build character into your children, I want to discuss the nature of how character is developed. The biblical history of the human race is a look into God’s character clinic. God has revealed his method of building character, and we can emulate it. We will not take the time to point out the Biblical patters, but it is obvious to any student of the Word, beginning with Adam and his garden experience, through Joseph, Abraham, Moses, and the Children of Israel, down to Christ himself as the Holy Spirit drove him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. I discussed this more fully in my book “By Divine Design.” God created Adam and Eve to be righteous, but he did not create them righteous. They were created right, innocent, but with no knowledge of good or evil. Character cannot be created. It comes out of choice. Character does not develop in a moral vacuum. One does not learn to be good by never being allowed to do evil. Character is the end result of many moral contests. One must face moral dilemmas, with no limitations or constraints on his freedom, and choose between the naked realities of good and evil in order to develop character. Further, one must chose good in circumstances that are hostile to his choice. Finally, if he is to have lasting character, he must make the hard choice of doing the right thing in situations where his body and soul cry out for the pleasure that will come with an unlawful choice.
The key words are knowledge, test, and choose. Parents must carefully lead their children into a knowledge of good and evil. Children must be allowed to face moral tests of increasing intensity, Ultimately they must exercise their wills, choosing righteousness because they value it.
Children can learn character from the Bible, but they cannot possess character except through experience. God’s method of building character in his children is to leave us in the presence of sin while warning us to take the initiative to flee from it. When Satan desires to have us that he may sift us like wheat, God does not destroy the devil, and he does not shield us from the temptation; he prays for us that our faith will not fail in the midst of the trial. You can’t overcome an obstacle unless it is in your path. To be a winner you’ve got to compete. Children kept out of the competition will not break any bones, but neither will they grow strong and become winners. When they are challenged to overcome, they may just wimp out. Yet, God does not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to overcome. When my children were very young—I don’t remember their age, probably four or five—I instructed them in issues that could soon confront them. On occasion, when my boys and I were standing somewhere outdoors, relieving ourselves, I might have said, “Boys, this (give it a name) is given by God for urinating, and later on when you get older it will be used for making babies. If any body ever wants to touch you there, hit’em in the nose, and then take off running.” Later, possible when they were seven or eight, and we saw a Sodomite, maybe witnessed to one, I would tell the boys something to the effect, “This guy is all messed up in his mind. He handles other guys like a man is supposed to touch his wife. He is perverted.” And then I would remind them of the Bible story of Sodom and Gomorra and how God hates such sin and judges it with hell fire. When my children got big enough to walk or ride their bicycles down the road without our presence, I warned them against pornography. I would never consider letting a child leave the yard with other children or by himself until he was thoroughly warned against the evils of pornography. My children knew how I felt, for on several occasions, I accidentally patronized a store that sold pornography. They had seen me enter a store after pumping gas, and then as I was about to pay, I discovered a display of pornography. It always angers me. I denounce it loudly, ask to see the manager, tell them that I will not trade there again until they remove it, and then inform them that I will inform all my friends to also avoid trading there. When I have seen pornography displayed illegally, I have called the law and gone before the judges. On one occasion, the boys saw me almost get into a knock down fight with a manager that did not appreciate my moral opinion. The boys saw me tear up news magazines, turn off TV sets, and speak out against billboard advertisements. They knew how I felt. Occasionally I would warn them, saying something to the effect, “Just as God has his book, the devil has his, and it is called pornography. Sooner or later the devil is going to put a porno book on the side of the road where you will find it. You will be tempted to look inside. The pictures may be very exciting. It will give you a thrill to look at it, but it is addictive like drugs. If you ever look just one time, it could destroy your chance for happiness. The devil can use it to twist your mind. If you want to have a good relationship to your wife someday, you had better just pass on by that filthy book.” To reinforce my words I made sure that my children met sinners and newly saved saints that had bad backgrounds. You can tell them that sin is bad, but there is nothing as effective as seeing the destruction that sin has caused in the lives of others. When they saw individuals broken in body and spirit, they knew that sin was not just bad because the Bible and a few nerdy Christians said it was. Sin is destructive regardless of what the Bible or the preacher says. When my boys got close to puberty, I began to warn them of what was coming. I joked with them, saying, “One of these days when you get about twelve or thirteen, you are going to start growing hair under your arms and… Your body will begin to change and you will start to be a man.” And I would say something to the effect, “You think girls are cute now; wait until you go through puberty!” They would look at me rather blankly and then go back to being a kid. Just months before puberty, I would say, “It won’t be long now.” This is all man to man talk. I know it doesn’t sound very spiritual, but flesh is flesh, and you can fly so high you depart from reality. I think our family study of the book of Proverbs did more to instruct them in Biblical principles than any thing we did. I suggest it to every family. We didn’t do it every day, but we had at least one session each week and during the long winter days, we sometimes read Proverbs together every evening. This is not a law to be spiritual; it is a teaching exercise. The kids loved it. We kept it light and fun. Each person would read one verse and then comment on it. They were never too young. The toddlers would sit next to Mom and repeat the words after her, following along with their fingers. As they began to read just a little, they would tell us what they thought the passage meant. By the time they were reading well, we would have them stand up and read loudly, and then comment with gusto. As they got older yet still, we would correct their diction and offer advice on how to speak more effectively. “Stop mumbling.” “Put your hand down.” “Look at your audience.” “Stand up straight.” We laughed and joked and had a great time. Everyone was a winner. We never used this time to bring up their “many sins.” We never used it as a time to catch up on rebuke. It is one of the pleasant memories our children cherish. Just picture the kind of impression Proverbs 7 would make upon a boy just going through puberty. It is the story of a harlot seducing a young man and of the hell that is to follow.
Proverbs 7:6-27 6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening , in the black and dark night: 10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. 21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. 24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
At verse 7 we would discuss what it meant to be void of understanding. At verse 10 we would discuss the attire of a harlot, why she dresses that way, and what effect it has upon the young man. This is good for your girls. At verse 13 we would discuss how kissing is sexual foreplay designed to lead to copulation. We point out in verse 14 how she was religious and so might deceive the simple. We would then warn them that not all “Christians” are godly. We would point out from verse 21 how flattery can be used as a tool to weaken your defenses. When he yielded to her temptation, it was like an ox going to get his throat cut, verse 22. And in verse 27, going in to have sex with this religious woman was going into the fires of hell. Now you must be able to see the impact this had on kids as they grew up. The book of Proverbs is complete in the subjects it covers. Every aspect of life is covered, from laziness to wisdom. Proverbs has 31 chapters. If you did a chapter each day, you could cover it in one month. If you did a chapter each week, you could cover it nearly twice each year. If you covered Proverbs twice each year, beginning when the child in 4 and going until he is 18, he would have gone through each chapter 30 times before he leaves home. He will never be “simple.” This is what we call insulating the children from within. You could keep the kid locked up in the house until he is 18, but how will he respond the first time a good looking, “Christian” sex bomb offers herself? Could your son turn down the sweet and sexy “worship leader” at your church if he is “in love?” As we ministered to others, it was a way of life for us to analyze the shipwrecked lives of those in our acquaintance. How did it come to this? Where did they go wrong? How could they be so deceived? Our children saw the rewards of holiness and the pain of sin. They grew up knowing that love, peace, and hope were the fruits of holiness, and that hate, bitterness, and disease, eventually ending in hopeless death, were the fruits of sin. The examples I have given pertain to sex, and though that is the most compelling drive facing a young man, it was only one area in which we prepared them to withstand. Around the kitchen table and as we lounged in the evening, we also analyzed the failures and pain we saw coming from greed, bitterness, selfishness, anger, laziness, hypocrisy, pride, envy, and a thousand other evils of which we are all guilty in one way or another from time to time. Our intention was not to point out the sins of others so as to elevate ourselves, but rather to study the many roads that lead to destruction. This is not the same as nit-picking your friends. We are not encouraging the natural tendency to criticize others. In the process of ministering to others we came in contact with hurting people. As we sought to lift them out of their sin, they became a ready example, a clinic on good and evil. If you look you can see people reaping what they have sowed. If our children or we are walking the ugly road, we too will reap the thorns that are sure to follow. The law of sowing and reaping is so certain that it can be observed as a science. If your child is beginning to show laziness, you can draw his attention to the lives of others and show him where it will end. Your children don’t have to repeat the mistakes that have already been made in order to learn. Just open their eyes and insulate them within.