Links to Think: 08.27.12

August 27, 2012

Confused by Complementarianism? You probably should be. – Carl Trueman shares some thought-provoking words on an issue garnering much discussion within conservative Evangelicalism.

“Why, for instance, is this issue of more importance than, say, differences over baptism or understandings of the Lord’s Supper?  Historically and confessionally, those have been the issues that divide, so it is strange to see the adjective ‘confessional’ applied to movements which actually sideline the very doctrinal differences which made Protestant confessions necessary in the first place.

One answer is that egalitarianism as a position is usually accompanied by lower views of scripture and the presence of other, more serious errors and heterodoxies.   That might well be true in some, perhaps even many, cases but it is not necessarily so, any more than it is true that all complementarians are thoroughly orthodox on all other issues or hold the position for biblical reasons.  I have known quite a few complementarians who seem to be such less because of the Bible and more because they apparently watched Conan the Barbarian a few too many times in their early teenage years.”

“It is thus not complementarianism in itself to which I object; I am simply not sure why it is such a big issue in organisations whose stated purpose is basic co-operation for the propagation of the gospel and where other matters of more historic, theological and ecclesiastical moment are routinely set aside.  If you want simply to unite around the gospel, then why not simply unite around the gospel?   Because as soon as you decide that issues such as baptism are not part of your centre-bounded set but complementarianism is, you will find yourself vulnerable to criticism — from both right and left — that you are allowing a little bit of the culture war or your own pet concerns and tastes to intrude into what you deem to be the most basic biblical priorities.”

The Myth of the Autonomous Age – This article addresses a cultural phenomenon I’ve observed in American parenting.

“Parents are being told to expect (and in some cases, push) their babies to behave like adults by meeting milestones such as sleeping through the night, weaning, walking, talking, reading, etc., earlier than is sometimes appropriate for their child … at the same time they are being told to coddle their children, not to trust their instincts, and to behave as if — at any moment and based solely on their age — disaster may befall them.”
“This isn’t a case of French children being “better” or French parents being “reckless” or “detached.” What it illustrates in a very concise way is that the French spend the first five years of the child’s life building up to that trip. The parents, teachers, caregivers, and the rest of the proverbial village all encourage appropriate levels of instruction and autonomy for each child’s personal development, so when the child shows readiness the adults can respond accordingly to foster that growth. Montessori has a similar approach, particularly where practical life is concerned: Proper instruction early on, coupled with a keen eye on the readiness of the child afford the child the confidence to accomplish the tasks set before him.”
“So now you’re thinking, “Well, I obviously want my child to be as competent as possible, so what do I do?””
“Watch her for cues that she’s ready for the next challenge. If she’s showing interest in what you’re doing, give her a part of the task to help with. Making a salad? She can help tear lettuce or mix dressing. Scrapbooking? Give her glue and scrap papers. Rock climbing? Rent some tiny shoes and spot her while she discovers the joy of bouldering. There’s no law that says once you offer the opportunity you can’t continue to assist, but you’ll be amazed at what the offered opportunity reveals — it could be a child who is developing the fine motor skills necessary for wielding an allen wrench and helping you assemble that IKEA furniture you’ve been ignoring.”
“How will children learn to temper their actions if they never feel the consequences? An anecdote shared by Matthew Amster-Burton inHungry Monkey (an excellent book) involves his then 3- or 4-year-old daughter and her new electric skillet. Amster-Burton is a food writer and involved his daughter in their daily cooking from the moment she could sit upright, so getting her an electric skillet when she showed readiness was a no-brainer for them. He expresses relief that on one of her early attempts to cook with it, she gets a little overzealous and burns her arm. The burn is minor, but the effects are monumental: She now knows that if she’s not careful with the skillet, she will hurt herself. She goes on to become quite proficient at scrambling eggs. This same attitude can be used for scissors, knives, running, playing with cats, climbing walls, riding bikes — the list is truly endless. No parents want their child to be injured, but the answer isn’t restriction from activities: It is taking the time to teach the correct approach and safety measures.”

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  • Naomi August 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

    “He expresses relief that on one of her early attempts to cook with it, she gets a little overzealous and burns her arm. The burn is minor, but the effects are monumental: She now knows that if she’s not careful with the skillet, she will hurt herself. “— I remember one of my brothers burning himself while ironing his shirt at age 3. To this day he & one other brother iron their own clothes– they do it best. Obviously :).

    • Keren September 5, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      What about the other brothers? 😉

  • Johanna Hanson August 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I found the parenting article interesting. I sometimes wonder how we’ve gotten to the point to need such articles in our society. I find that if I just include my children in whatever I am doing, they do, they learn, and faster than we realize they can do it on their own…safely.
    I have been asked by people when I started having my kids help clean up. I’m not sure how to answer that. We do it as a family, and even the youngest member participates. He may only put one block in the box, but he joins us. Somehow, without our even realizing when it happened exactly, the kids are perfectly capable of cleaning up. The key is doing it first with you, not alone.

    • Keren September 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      It seems so much of this has to do with habits, too, both for myself and my kids. For myself, I often out of habit just “do it myself.” Then, they might ask to do it with me, and I realize, “oh! I could have had them doing this all along, or a lot longer ago.” For the kids, it doesn’t take long for us to get them into the good habit of always participating, too.

  • Katie August 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Both articles are very interesting. Thanks for sharing them. Like you, I am a complementarian, but very conflicted by some of the ideas out there that people keep putting out. And I keep seeing moms work themselves into a frenzy over some safety issues. They are panicking about letting kids use scissors or markers, and then they expect the kid to “get it” overnight. While they make them cry themselves to sleep. Doesn’t make sense!! That’s probably an over generalization, but I’ve definitely seen my fair share of moms doing all of the above. Meanwhile I sleep with my 3 year old, but he can cook breakfast for us the next morning. :o) that probably doesn’t make “sense” to some either…

    • Keren September 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm

      I definitely understand, Katie!