Who is good enough for my daughter? Parents regularly say that only those “good enough” can date or marry our children, right? I wonder if most of us have figured out what that means before it’s too late (e.g., bubba just rang the door bell)? In other words, what type of boy will I let in the front door?
We continue this short series on the character qualities of the kind of boy that I want to hear ask me for my daughter’s hand. First was, courage. Today’s is that he shouldn’t be inclined to pay back evil for evil.
The Bible is clear enough that when it comes to vengeance or retribution, only God is expert enough to handle it. Thankfully, this evidence is clearly stated,
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19)
O LORD, O God of vengeance, O God of vengeance shine forth! (Psalm 94:1)
Still, we try. Clear examples are all around us. For many (especially boys), it’s on the ball field. Surely the boy will find himself on what we used to call the “field of friendly strife” (i.e., athletic field). When he does, he will be learning important lessons about life and about his place in it. I spoke to a good friend recently about how when boys get on the field, each one is desperately trying to establish and maintain his place of prowess in light of all the rest. Sometimes the overflow of this is seen in red cards (soccer), face-masks (football), hitting a batter (baseball) or charging (basketball). When it happens, you can be sure that one has challenged another’s position in the rankings. These challenges are evil. Strictly speaking they are retributions, punishments, and vengeance-efforts.
Will a boy resort to this?
- Will his lifestyle be one of “bowing up” or “kicking against the goads”? Is his answer to authority to always resist and sometimes rebel?
Listen dad, you, out there, parenting that boy that will one day show up at my door. Sure, every man has his moment but I will turn him away faster than he can say “bonehead” if his lifestyle resembles these things. And I should and so should you.
Just why do we think God would take the time to state, illustrate and command us that He is One in charge of justice and vengeance? Clearly, it is because we are so prone to want to be judge, jury and executioner. As we parent our boys, do we instill in them the vengeance-ethic? “Real men don’t take that crap.” “Real men don’t get run over like that.” “Men don’t get mad they get even.” We secretly believe this slimy code of conduct and we inculcate it in our young boys. For the sake of my daughters, don’t do it.
In a stroke of what was clearly the wisdom from above, I recently had a conversation with my son about this issue. Of course, we started on the field of friendly strife and ventured into other fields. Namely, what to do when you’re in the hen house and another rooster wants to fight? Enough of the metaphor: he tackled a kid in football, the kid got up and tackled him from behind after the play. What do we do with this? I detected in my son a couple of response options rolling around in his head: a) quit the game to deal with the embarrassment, b) bust the kid’s head or c)??. He was dealing with a) and c). What does a boy do when, in the front of all of his peers, he’s the victim of a vengeful act? What would God have him do?
(Here’s where the wisdom from above came in). I told him that vengeance belongs to the Lord and if he were to have busted the kid’s head, that would’ve been sin. I convinced him that leaving the field was bad for several reasons not the least of which is that the other kid’s act was sinful, and God tells us to confront sinners (Luke 17:3, Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1). So, dad tells boy that next time, he turn, and confront the kid on his actions – put the ball in his hands (so to speak) – and stand there and wait to see what happens. “Let God work on that kid’s heart” I said. Predictably, boy asks dad, “What if he gets mad and comes after me?” I told my little warrior that he stand firm, wrap him up and help him remember that interactions of this sort are costly for him (there were warriors in Israel, remember).
Not wanting that to be the last word then (or here), we ended on the process: play fair, confront as needed, stand firm and defend thoroughly as appropriate.
Listen, dads, if a boy shows up on my door with a battle record that reveals truth, tenacity, and self-defense, we’ll move on to other areas gladly. If not, then he’ll be home early.