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Our guidelines for things (in)appropriate for our children

(Garth D. Wiebe, uploaded to the web in 1997)

Dear friends and relatives,

We wish to thank you for all the support and encouragement that you have given us and our children. We see our children as a gift from God, and parenting as an awesome responsibility before God, a task we undertake with fear and trembling, in knowing that much of what they will become will be the result of the examples which we set for them.

A well known proverb says that we should "Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pr. 22:6). Parents have standards that they follow, and expectations of their children -- we are no exception to this.

In this day and age, there are many different value systems that people live by. Your value system is your business and you are not accountable to us for it. We have chosen to use God's word as a standard (that is, the God of Israel, who has now revealed himself through his Son, Jesus Christ), and commit ourselves to His guidelines. As one ancient Israeli leader challenged: "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) This is the choice we have made.

It is difficult to have to feel the need to distribute a list of do's and don'ts to our own relatives and friends (even within our own church!), but we feel it is important to be up-front regarding our expectations. By doing this, we want to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings later, by explaining in advance what we approve of and don't approve of for our children.

When visiting with our children (either you visiting us or they visiting you), buying gifts and toys, etc., please consider the principles and guidelines which we have enclosed. If in doubt as to what is and isn't appropriate, please do not hestitate ask us ahead of time. We're not trying to be overprotective or "holier than thou", but are simply setting boundaries, as every parent does. In our case, it is the realization that our boundaries are much narrower than the norm that compels us to vocalize them ahead of time.

The other thing worth mentioning is regarding the behavior of our children, and yours! Our children are expected to do what they are told (by you, when under your supervision), the first time you say so. If they don't mind, then corporal discipline is in order. As another proverb goes, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Pr 13:24, see also Pr 22:15, 23:13, 29:15). We expect you to expect good behavior from them if we are to leave them under your supervision.

We thank you in advance for your understanding.

With much love and appreciation,

BonnieJean and Garth

Things inappropriate for Children (or Adults) - 9/27/91

> Advocating false gods, superheros

Worship of, consultation of, or advocating or accepting false gods, is idolatry and is forbidden by the only true God. We are mortal men, and we look up to the all knowing, all powerful, eternal Creator of everything for everything. We should not even pretend or fantasize about other gods, but avoid all appearance of evil.

> Advocating a false gospel (gospel = "good news")

Anything that suggests that man is inherently good, or can obtain eternal life and salvation, apart from mere faith in the saving grace of God through what Jesus did for us on the cross, is wrong. Anything that suggests that man can find lasting happiness, security, satisfaction, or peace apart from what is rooted in the true promises of God is wrong.

> Magic, sorcery, supernatural representations and illusions, superheros, witches, elves, magic animals, enchanted lands

The miraculous belongs to God, and those whom he chooses to use as his instruments. Any other supernatural source belongs in the catagory of the occult, even if it looks cute or purports to be good. We don't want to even pretend or fantasize about these things, but avoid all appearance of evil.

> References to sexual immorality

Anything that suggests that sex is permissible outside of marriage is wrong. Things that depict people or personified animals lusting, seducing, acting sexy, dressing inappropriately, or involved in any kind of sexual intimacy outside of the context of marriage are to be avoided. Depicting real animals involved in mating activities is acceptable if the intent is educational, and not for entertainment. Sexual relations between married couples, although completely moral, should not be depicted for entertainment. Nudity is only acceptable if the intent is educational (medical, anatomical studies), and not for entertainment.

> Giving approval to rebellion or lack of respect for authority

Vigilantes, political revolutionaries, criminals, and their activities are not to be condoned. Things that depict lack of respect by children for their parents or other adults, lack of respect by wives towards their husbands, lack of respect by persons for governmental authorities, lack of respect by church members towards church leaders, or lack of respect by anyone towards God are to be shunned. We respect God's laws, and we respect the laws of those placed in authority over us, to the extent that they don't conflict with the higher law of God.

> Toy guns, knives, swords, and other weapons, devices meant for execution, injury, or torture (historic, contemporary, or futuristic)

Our children should be taught that weapons hurt and kill, and it is not amusing to pretend that you are hurting and killing people, which is what children invariably do, when provided with toy weapons. Weapons meant to injure human beings belong to the authorities, and their use is heavily supervised and restricted. Weapons used for hunting food belong to adults, and are used with great caution.

> vulgarity

We want to avoid using vulgar words and phrases when we communicate. Books, videos, music, and games that condone the use of vulgarity are not acceptable.

> Personality idols (posters, figures, and other representations of people idolized by children or adults), superheroes

Children should be taught that one man is not superior to another, and that only God deserves to be glorified. Those who are gifted should attribute their gifts to God. Those in authority should acknowledge God as the source of their authority. Those who have received recognition for doing good should acknowledge God as the source of the good which they do. There is nothing wrong with having a photograph of someone, but if that person is idolized, then the photograph is a stumbling block. This can even include musicians who write and perform "christian music."

> Competitive games

Our children should be encouraged to cooperate with one another, rather than compete with one another. Games can be challenging without being competitive. Substitute puzzles, individual games and sports. Games that are traditionally played competitively are fine if we can change the rules so that they can be played cooperatively, with no player winning at the expense of another player losing. We want to always encourage our children to work together and consistently uphold the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Our real competition should be against that which is evil.

> Books, games, videos, and toys that contain myths or falsehood

Examples are books and magazines that teach Darwinian or theistic evolution, or historic myths about people or events that are simply not true. We want to be consistently honest with our children, always presenting them with accurate historical facts and encouraging objective scientific inquiry.

> Objects and references to pagan folklore during traditional holidays/events

At Christmas we may celebrate the birth of Jesus, but Santa Claus is a lie. At Easter we may celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but the Easter Bunny is a lie. There is no tooth fairy. Halloween is a totally occult celebration which we have nothing to do with. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God, and not about gluttony. Independance day is about how people succeeded in rebelling against the governing authorities, and we do not celebrate it. St. Patrick's day is about Catholic supremacy over Protestants in Ireland, and we do not rally along with it. April 1st is not a valid excuse to do mischief. Wishbones don't work. Blowing out all the birthday candles doesn't cause anything else to happen.

> Science fiction or speculation involving extraterrestrial life, time-travel, and other fantasy.

Objective astronomy and scientific inquiry is fine, when kept in perspective, and God is glorified for his creative works. But speculation without foundation is futile and useless. We should give the message to our children that we focus on things that apply to us, and not things that don't, which can become a diversion and a stumbling block. We want to focus on what is real and constructive, and not become obsessed with fantasy.

> vanity

A healthy concern for one's personal appearance is good. But we want to dress modestly and appropriately, and this should be taken into consideration when considering clothing, make-up, jewelry, and anything else that they would wear.

> greed

Things which promote greed, hoarding of wealth, selfish gain, and a lust for the material things of this world are not good. We shouldn't even pretend to be greedy, as greed is evil and we should avoid all appearance of evil.

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