We chose this metaphor because it pictures for us the journey that a family must be willing to take as it grows together in grace; the next generation in the family will take the place of the older generation in the church and in the world. This challenging journey is a conversation that may involve gale-forced winds of discussion, weakness and hesitancy to face change, and sometimes fear of what other people may think; but the bridge takes us to future deep, enriched, and meaningful relationships as we open up the discussion regarding preferences. We are hoping through this article that our generation of 50s and older will experience God’s work of reconciliation and gospel grace. Too frequently, we hear of broken families where moms and dads have cut off their single or married children because their children have "changed their standards," so the parents feel or fear that they must separate from their own children, cooling the relationships. The irony is that these same single or married children love God in many cases passionately. How do we reconcile these realities in our minds and understand the situation biblically and logically? We would also hope through this article/discussion that parents could not only consider rekindling relationships with their own grown children, but also we would hope that people would rekindle friendships with fellow believers that they have written off because of their "departing" from a set of standards or what we'll call preferences. Big picture preferences mandated by an institution or a church have the propensity of covering the hidden idolatries within the institution rather than allowing people to determine their own preferences within biblical parameters. If someone has a heart of gratitude toward God because of the gospel and if someone is yielding to the Holy Spirit in the pursuit of holiness in sanctification, then the preferences will not jump the boundaries to blatant immodesty or gross self-attention, for example. No one is saying that preferences are left to the imagination. Preferences are always in line with God's imperatives (commands) in the New Testament.
Before we begin, we want to add here that we (Dave is 57 and Judi is 56) have had numerous intense discussions with our own three married children and their spouses. We chose not to shut them down or to refuse to hear their biblical reasoning. In fact, their love for God and their desire for ministry and their examples of unselfish service to God through their local churches inspired us. We questioned some of the "standards" that we had sincerely held, but perhaps sincerely embedded in fear or tradition or "that's what we were told." Our grown children's ministries looked very different from what we had known in our past, but the spiritual life of their ministries demonstrated intense love for God and others and intense confrontation of sin."
Here is an excerpt from the body of the article that will give you an idea of its flavor.
"We feel compelled to share our own testimony at this point in regards to music. Both Judi and I were trained in music in conservative Christian circles in the 1970s. We sincerely believed that God was most honored when we chose the most conservative music to sing, to play, and to listen to. So we were restricted to classical music, Christian music on a very short list, and boundaries that were very tightly drawn for us. We have explained to our children as we discussed trends in contemporary Christian music that we encountered back in the 1970s that initially many of the 70s songs were very shallow admittedly. For example, an entire song could be about a lighthouse or fluffy clouds, and we had no clue that the analogy was about Christ or the Gospel. So we shied away from the contemporary Christian music of our day (1970s) because much of the music then was not really theologically rich. Perhaps there was some music out there that was deep and rich, but we believed that our preferences regarding music were RIGHT and others were WRONG; our preferences helped us to be holy, we thought. We therefore shunned others who had the WRONG list of music or a longer list than ours. As we retaught the principles that created the "perfect list of music" to our growing children, we found ourselves questioning the logic and theology behind those principles or actually what we now know were preferences. We could repeat the "standards of music" to our own children and to our students in college where we taught, but we could not articulate these "standards" with solid biblical reasoning. We faced our dilemma, deciding to dialogue with our godly, adult children; at the same time, we also decided to listen to a lot of contemporary Christian music. We found out that we had missed out and were missing out on God-focused, Gospel-centered, and grace-based lyrics, richly theological. Was all of the music referable? No. Are all hymns accurate theologically? No. Did some of the styles initially not appeal to us? Yes. But we were now on a trajectory of evaluating content and style of all music. We have decided not to sing some hymns because they are weak theologically. We have decided not to sing some contemporary songs because of the weak theological content. Now we are evaluating the content rather than restricting ourselves to someone's "acceptable music list."
Our peer: But does not the style of the music and the music itself associate with evil and have immoral connotation?
Our response: Just so we understand what you are saying, do you think that association of certain instruments with worldly music renders those instruments ungodly? Or because a genre of music with a secular background like rap music is used with Christian lyrics that the artist is ungodly as well?
This argument from association is used quite often to defend the "restricted list of right music." Let's tackle this conversation from the association principle. Judi and I were reading a book recently by Curtis Allen. He explains the association principle so well. "God wants Christians working in the legal profession despite the presence of shysters. . . . He wants us working in internet careers despite the flood of pornography. . . . He wants us working in politics despite the deeply rooted corruption. . . . and He wants us involved in rap music despite all the bad stuff [its background]" (Does God Listen to Rap? p. 76 Kindle). What Allen was saying was that "God wants us, his witnesses, present in every area of life as a redemptive influence" (p. 76 Kindle). He is not saying that you should be doing something illegal or join with the pornographer or cheat voters or listen to seductive rap; however, he is saying that in the big picture, redemptive influence allows us to use varying arenas for God's glory. If you are calling this pragmatism, than you must label modes of redemptive influence as evil. Being a lawyer is not evil. Being an internet programmer is not evil. Being a politician is not evil. Being a rap artist is not evil. These modes of employment are not evil."
Here is one final concluding section that helps sum up why they wrote the article.
"Our goal through this article has always been to unite parents with their godly, adult children or unite believers with other believers after long division. Even in the writing, we feared some backlash that might be hurtful. But here you have it: our thoughts that represent a 50s plus couple who have re-evaluated the preference issues biblically and logically. Thank you for listening. Godly young people, please feel free to print this article or to pass it on digitally to moms and dads having difficulty with your preferences. We'll pray that a conversation will ensue."