Coming Under Authority

I heard a judge ask a juvenile defendant’s mother “does he follow your rules at home?”  The mother responded confidently, “no!”  The judge almost openly chuckled at the candor of the woman.  If the answer were that the youth could be managed at home, he could have gone home.  Instead, he left the courtroom in handcuffs to be taken to detention.

I saw another set of parents stand in the courtroom with their incarcerated son.  The parents were successful and engaged in the life of their son.  They had worked hard to help him through his problems, some of which were medical.  Even though their son had conditions that might justify sympathy, they had chosen not to post a bond for him to get out of jail.  His rebellion had led them to release him to his consequences.

Rebellion at any level is not conducive to preservation of families or societies.  We all must come under authority and if we do not willingly submit to the authority inherent in our lives, there is higher authority with greater consequences.

The two examples of how parents responded to rebellion in their homes is encouraging.  In neither case did the parents decide to own the choices of the child. They had undoubtedly spent time, money, energy, prayer and resources in previous battles with the child who was acting out of control.

Now they were releasing them to the consequences with love.  This was what love really looks like.  Not the apologetic, enabling compromise that all too often is mistaken for healthy love.  This is a healthy and respectful love that allows truth to prevail and the young adult to grow.  By loving in this way, the sons of these parents are allowed to grow out of their rebellion and encouraged by consequences to step into responsibility.

There is no question that this healthy love is harder on the parents, especially at first. To allow the consequences when rescue is possible is not an easy thing for either a father or a mother.  The strength of that healthy love comes from knowing submission and authority themselves.  The investment sacrifices the short-term situation for long-term relationship.  The goal of love, after all, is long-term relationship.

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