Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, which honors those who gave us birth, and, ostensibly nurtured us into some degree of maturity. Then, last Sunday at or church, a young couple brought their infant for infant baptism, which is always a tender observance. They took vows to raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Christian faith, and to set before him an example of that faith. Sounds good so far. But … what happens when that child gets a cellphone, and access to the internet, and introduction to a vast range from good stuff all the way to pornography?

What happens to family conversations? What access to significant input on crucial issues confronting them? What happens to family devotions when the cellphone rings, or a significant conversation is interrupted? Or members of the family are called away by such calls? Children have profound questions growing up. Young children of Christian parents are confronted with a myriad of other philosophies and religions. What happens when parents are displaced as the primary resources and replaced by the opinions of immature peers? Mothers replaced by cell phone and internet? May it not be so

Plus, what happens to the capacity to observe what is around them, to enjoy nature, to sit silently and contemplate life and its vicissitudes? Pascal observed that all of humanities problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Being captive to the internet is different from being thankful for the access to information it gives us. I’m a late-comer to cell phones and internet, but I first observed their liability when I drove down a lovely residential street when the homes were in full spring flower, and there were walking along six persons, each consumed with their cell phones, seeming not to appreciate the beauty all around them.

Before I ever got a cell phone, I was invited to be part of a significant discussion with group of bright young minds in local pub. The first thing the leader said was that all were to turn off their cell phones and put them in the center of the table. I also know of home owners, who when they invite friends to their home, have a basket by the door in which to deposit their cell phones, so that they can focus on their time with each other.

Mothers and fathers need to establish cell-free rules for their families, so that family discussion and nurture is not displaced by all that cell phones and the internet make available. To raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord takes focused time, and consistent modeling of that faith, and that takes intentional family discipline. Mothers and fathers must model lives not captive to the internet—especially when the family is together (like at mealtimes).

In the sense of being models and mentors of the Christian faith, fathers and mothers are the children’s primary evangelists. This presents us Christian parents with a huge cultural challenge. Pray for wisdom, and may the Lord give it to you in abundance so that others see in you something beautiful and desirable, approachable and caring.

And may the Lord be with you.


About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Jermaine Ladd says:

    Although cellphones are convenient they have made us more so distracted than ever. Sometimes it best just to turn it off.

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