Cross-shaped parenting is marked by dependence on God and connection to other Christians, Russell Moore told a sellout audience at a Southern Baptist-sponsored conference Aug. 24.
ERLC photo by Kelly Hunter
Cross-shaped parenting is marked by dependence on God and connection to other Christians, Russell Moore told a sellout audience at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s national conference Aug. 24.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), delivered the opening keynote address to about 1,300 people gathered for “Parenting: Christ-centered Parenting in a Complex World,” the ERLC’s 2017 national conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. The three-day event concluded Aug. 26.
Parenting is difficult most importantly because family “is not just biological; family is spiritual warfare,” Moore said. Christians see in family something “about what it means to be dependent on God as Father” and what it means to be connected to each other.
“The Bible tells us we are in enemy-occupied territory; we are in the middle of a war zone, and the powers out there rage against the picture of the gospel that is found in the family,” he said.
“Parenting humbles us; parenting humiliates us; parenting crucifies us,” Moore told attendees.
The humiliation “is exactly the point of parenting,” he said. “If we felt we were competent to do this, we would not need the power of God and we would not need one another.”
Parenting is about cross bearing, Moore said.
“Parenting shows that the only way we can gain our lives is by losing them and the only way we can win is to lose, so we have the freedom to pour ourselves out for the next generation not because we want everyone to see how successful we were as parents, not because we feel the obligation to always do the right thing but because we love and in that love we have the ability to risk,” he told attendees.
“We’ve been called to be parents, but we’ve been called to be disciples first,” Moore said. “We’ve been called to love our families but to do so while” living for the kingdom of God.
The best thing parents can give children is for them to be able to look back and know their father and mother’s “self-identity was not me,” Moore said. Instead, he said of such children, “My parents’ self-identity was the question: ‘What can wash away my sin?’ – with the answer: ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’
“Cross-shaped parenting means our children are going to understand our goal for them is not that they be successful or impressive the way the world defines it,” he said. “Our goal for them is that they would be like us – crucified with Christ and therefore alive with the presence of God forever.
“The shape of the cross in our parenting also means that we need each other,” Moore told the audience. “[W]e cannot be godly parents to our children if we are not brothers and sisters to each other.
“And once we’ve been crucified and survived, why can’t we admit to one another that we need help … we are incompetent … we need forgiveness.”
Referencing Psalm 22’s prophecy of the crucifixion, Moore said the passage shows Jesus thought of his parents at the point of His greatest desperation.
“The cross shows us how beauty and brokenness are in the same place,” he said.
Parenting “is this unique mixture of joy and terror, of beauty and brokenness,” Moore said. “Nothing is easier than loving your children, and nothing is harder than loving your children.
“The Bible doesn’t give us a picture of shiny, happy families. It gives us a picture of people bearing the cross.”
Moore announced during Thursday’s afternoon session the ERLC’s 2018 national conference would be Oct. 11-13 in Dallas. With the theme of “The Cross-shaped Family,” the event will feature such speakers as Bible teachers Beth Moore and Jen Wilkin, Nashville pastor Ray Ortlund and ERLC’s Moore.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)