This is the final part in a series on the theme of right thinking about God when parenting adopted children who have not integrated into the family. The series (starting here) is fashioned from a discussion by five experienced adoptive moms who are overcoming the confusion and doubts arising from dealing with very difficult children who deeply grieve their hearts.
For our discussion, we each identified at least two lies about God the difficult parenting situation has tempted us to believe, two attributes of God/truths about God that counter those lies, and identified the Scripture where we find that truth. Knowing and believing these truths produces comfort, compassion, and confidence in parenting.
Following are more thoughts from our discussion. (“I,” “me,” and “my” refer to any mom who voiced the particular point, not necessarily to me, the blog administrator.)
Lie: The Word of God does not have answers for my child’s behavioral disorder.
My child’s emotional/behavioral disorder isn’t in the Bible. Therefore, while the Bible is helpful for spiritual problems, it doesn’t speak to psychological disorders. I need psychology in addition to the Bible.
It is true that the psychologies observe, collect, and identify behavioral patterns. They even identify emotions that energize or correlate to behavior patterns. But they don’t go deep enough, nor can they provide heart-changing, eternal solutions. For example, common views of the resistant, remorseless adoptive child who seems to have no conscience include
- mentally ill from trauma in the past,
- caught in a rage cycle,
- has low self-esteem,
- has a disorder.
Looking at the evidence for several years I eventually realized that, however well-intentioned, those analyses did not explain the behavior.
- Someone with an illness is sick even when he doesn’t want to be; this kind of child turns demeanor and behavior on and off like a light switch–there is choice.
- Someone who is damaged needs a doctor; this child’s emotions are actually working just fine, showing the natural response to past maltreatment that we should expect. (Regarding emotions, “damage” is metaphorical.)
- Someone in rage is angry, not helpless; someone “caught” in an emotional cycle is habituated.
- Someone who esteems self lowly is humble; someone with high self-esteem esteems himself highly, acts for selfish interests–high self-esteem is pride.
- Someone with a physical disorder or illness can’t help the symptoms, so is not morally culpable; oppositional behaviors are chosen and morally wrong.
- The psychologies assert that the solution is, well, that varies by which of the over 400 psychologies you choose to follow. Who is right? Who speaks effectual wisdom with rightful, trustworthy authority?
For years I did not see the contradiction in my thinking. I said the Bible is sufficient for the Christian life yet I needed this other source of wisdom (psychology) because the Bible does not provide sufficient counsel for this part of living over here (psychological disorders).
How illogical! Since God is Creator wouldn’t He be the expert on what He created? Jesus clearly said that man cannot live without the Word of God (Matt 4:4), so the Word must be essential for wise living on earth. If it is essential, it must have effectual solutions for every problem in living.
The Bible speaks effectually and authoritatively on choice, on maltreatment, on rage and habituation, on out-of-control emotions, on how we view ourselves, on moral behaviors.
The Word of God is living, active in revealing the heart and convicting the conscience (Heb. 4:12).
The Word of God is given to us by God and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” That encompasses the whole maturing process. The training is intended to make men “adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). “Every” encompasses every behavior a child could do. God claims His Word can a child dedicated to every selfish work she can contrive and equip her for every good work. That means, it can teach her how to live morally right, loving her neighbor, can tell her how she has gone wrong and how she can correct the problem, and can train her in right living.
How can the psychologies or any other guide book or religion possibly compete?
The Word of God has more than adequate solutions for my child’s
behaviors, emotions, and relationships.
A final series point:
In our discussions, one theme all the moms observed is that countering the lies we are tempted to believe requires submission, submission to the Word of God. What God says is true, and if God says it there is an implicit obligation on our part to believe it and live by it. Difficult people in our lives (like a persistently obstreperous child) may influence toward false ideas. Our trials may contradict our understanding of God. We naturally perceive circumstances inaccurately (Jer. 17:9). Add to that our innate tendency to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, to be morally autonomous. These human weaknesses are why belief in the Word of God requires submission to the Word of God.
“He who has my commandments and keeps them, He it is who loves Me” (John 14:21).