Tag Archives: argue

He who pays the bills makes the rules

As children begin another year of school, I find parents seeking counsel for their unique problems. One eventually faced by all parents is children insisting on making their own choices. As children mature they naturally want to express their independence. They also test the limits to see how far they can push their parents. In time, every parent faces the inevitable, “It’s my life! I should be able to live it the way I want!”

We, as a people, respect the rights of others. We encourage those around us to stand up for their rights and want our children to do the same. So, how do we handle it when our own children insist we back off and allow them to make a choice we know to be wrong, dangerous, or unwise? I will argue that the child doesn’t have a right to make the decision, unless the parent gives them that privilege. This is because the right to decide belongs to the one responsible for the decision.

When children want to make a choice, they are usually thinking, “I want to do this because I will enjoy it. I should be free to choose.” Suppose a young teen wants to make a choice. This young person believes he or she should have the right to make the decision. Is this belief correct? If you say the answer is simply “Yes” then you are likely a teen yourself. The young person in this situation seldom considers the consequences. Every choice we make has consequences. Most of these consequences are unintended. Many are not easy to foresee. Suppose a young person decides to exercise his or her ‘right’ and gets injured. Who pays the medical bills? Will the teen be solely responsible? Will the hospital and doctors sue the teen to recover their money, or would they have a legal case against the parents? We all know the answer: the parents will legally be on the hook for expenses incurred through the decision. Suppose the decision injures another person. Will that person’s family sue the teen for compensation and expenses? Of course not! They, as in the previous scenario, will sue the teen’s parents. The teen may have made the choice, but the parents pay just as if they had made the decision themselves.

So, if the parents must pay for the unintended consequences of the choice, do they not have a say in the choice? Since they will pay all of the expenses, and the teen will be responsible for none, does that not mean the parents have the right to make the decision? They may choose to allow the teen to ‘decide’ but this simply means they are not exercising their right. My household has always operated on a simple rule, “He (or she) who pays the bills makes the rules. To make your own rules you must be prepared to pay your own bills.”

Note: a version of this was published in the October 2015 edition of the San Antonio Beacon Newspaper.


A Time and a Place

This afternoon, while preparing for Sunday, I noticed a Facebook post from a pastor in Pakistan sharing the joy of this year’s Easter celebration. Of course, it didn’t take long for some “well-meaning” Christian to strip away any joy from the post. An American believer responded with the tired old: “Easter is a pagan Roman Catholic holiday.” Now, before you jump on the bandwagon and try to convince me that Easter is evil and sells out the faith along with Christmas and other holidays, let me tell you what bothers me so much about the discussion—a discussion I am more than familiar with, having discussed it for decades.
The first thing bothering me is the absolute inability to celebrate what another church is doing without jumping in with judgment. Here we have a brother celebrating the resurrection of our Lord in a land where doing so makes one into a target. Then, assuming he has any right to speak against such a brother, we hear from one who will likely never actually suffer anything greater than a bit of ridicule for his Lord. I’m sorry, but I’ll put the faith of a brother in Pakistan, China, Cuba or any number of other nations up against the faith of most of my fellow American Christians—including my own faith!
The second thing bothering me is how much of what we see as so important is nothing but a symptom of our own affluence and freedom. We have time to argue and fight with one another about whether Easter or Christmas should be celebrated because our faith costs so little. Christians in America are, comparatively speaking, wealthy. We can afford to waste time with such arguments because we have so much time to waste. If we were locked in a constant struggle to eat we would have no time for such things. If we were assaulted daily for our faith we would not be so cavalier about driving wedges between ourselves and other brethren.
We in the US have time and leisure to argue, fight and divide. It is just sad to see this spoiled nature vomit out when a brother in a persecuted land shares the blessings of our Lord’s service.
This brother’s mean-spirited petty response to the praises of another is a perfect symbol of so much of American Christianity. Does this mean we should never discuss such issues or debate them? Of course not! But we must understand that such discussions are our privilege because of the freedoms we enjoy. We should not smack our unfree brethren upside the head with them—no matter how important we may believe them to be.
Remember, as the teacher said, “There is a time and a place for everything.” There is one important lesson all of us Christians can learn. We must all learn “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” –Mark Twain