It is a great emphasis in North American Christian culture to raise children to become independent, productive members of society. Well-meaning Christian parents acquire many resources on child development written by highly educated psychologists. While the values of productivity for the Kingdom of God and responsibility and provision for the family is abundantly clear, the values of individualism and becoming independent cannot be illustrated with any bible reference. On the contrary, any and all scriptures point to the values of covenant, commitment to a community, and unity.
One basic message in the bible is the frailty and temporality of man’s achievements. The pride of man is often mocked by God in the bible. King Nebuchadnezzar was made insane by God when he claimed to have built Babylon independently (Daniel 4:30) and did not give glory to God. From Genesis to Revelation, we come again and again to the conflict of man’s pride and God’s eternal purposes. God reinforces his opposition to the value of independence over and over again. The great prophet Moses asked Yahweh not to send him due to his lack of speaking ability. God then provided his brother to speak for him. This is an example of God’s ways of accomplishing a task. During the battle with the Amalakites (Exodus 17), Moses’ hands had to be supported by Hur and Aaron, that he could remain in this position until the battle was won. The apostle Paul received a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming prideful with his increasing revelatory experiences.
The New Testament is filled with examples of community. The church “did not consider anything to be their own, but shared freely to anyone who had need” (Acts 4:32). Paul addressed the church as his brothers and sisters, and even encouraged submission to one another for the sake of unity in “the body of Christ”. (Ephesians 5:21)
Even the Godhead Himself lives in unity. The Holy Spirit constantly gives glory to Christ and is even called the “paraclete” (the comforter). In a specific time, Christ explicitly instructs the Church to “wait for the gift my Father promised” (the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4). Working independently is a mistake.
The more convincing argument is the emphasis we see on covenant. God saw that it was “not good” for man to be alone. Then Yahweh proceeded to create a suitable “helper” for him. At man’s inception, he was not independent, nor created to be! Indeed God created mankind to be in unity as the Trinity is in unity.
Independence and individualism have taken the place of the true values of responsibility and humility. Most find it more admirable to “stick with it” and finish the task by oneself then to ask for assistance. The reality is most jobs and tasks in life require at least two people. When viewed from a practical perspective, doing tasks alone which require two persons is silly and can be downright dangerous. The responsible thing to do is ask for some help!
Perhaps the emphasis in Christian child-rearing should be focused on co-operation and partnership. The vast majority of Christians will marry at some point in their lives, and the values of individualism and independence are polar opposite value of covenant. Indeed, how many marriages have collapsed by people who are too independent and looking out for the individual rather than the health of the couple.
The bible has many direct references to, as well as support for the values of: unity, covenant, community, and family. The values of independence and individualism are not “Christian values”. These values oppose the Church, the bible, and the basic values of family.
Manhood is a gift. It cannot be earned or achieved; only received (and often declined.)
The values of independence and individualism have such pervaded our culture such that many of our concepts are based on them. We have actually measured manhood by how much independence and individualism he has! As long as he can do everything on his own and doesn’t need any help from anyone, can manage his finances, household, relationships, only then we are confident to use the term “man”.
But what is the standard then by which we can measure and define a “man”? How much money should he earn to be called a man? How tall must he be? How strong must he be to be called a man? The common answer is “enough to be independent”. But is that God’s design that a man becomes independent? When we read Genesis, we find that it is not the case! We find he was designed for interdependence with the woman.
If manhood cannot be earned or achieved, how then can one ever exit boyhood and enter into manhood? The answer is he must receive and believe the truth about who God created him to be. He must embrace manhood and willingly accept the privileges and responsibilities of being a man. Just as we receive our salvation, our sanctification and our adoption into God’s family by faith, so it is with manhood. It is received by faith. Not faith in our ability as husbands, fathers, and apostles, but by our faith in God’s word. When we ask God for faith, that faith produces obedience and though faith God gives us the ability to become men.
How then do we produce men in the truest sense? How do we counter the opposing stronghold we are currently experiencing? We create an environment of faith. We nurture faith. We cheer on faith. We put to death pessimism, bitterness and doubt. We allow God to define us and refuse to define others by their outward appearances. We assist in and build the faith of our boys that they can embrace manhood. We do not put heavy burdens on them, and then not lift a finger to help them. We count each one as our spiritual son and afford them every help that they may need.