A Deer Caught in the Headlights
by John Elliott
It was a perfect day to be eleven. The sun was out and the smell of spring was in the air. We were on top of our sixth grade world. My best friend Buddy and I pitched stones at road signs and sword fought with the branches that we picked off our favorite weeping willow tree. We hustled to my house to make our favorite after-school snack: double-decker-bologna sandwiches. Bursting through the front door with a "Hi mom!" we headed to the kitchen.
I vividly remember the next scene as if it happened yesterday. We turned the corner, salivating in anticipation of the grub we would soon devour. Out of nowhere the unthinkable stared us in the face. Buddy and I stood like two deer caught in the headlights. With our eyes wide-open as saucers and our chins dropped to the floor we looked at each other and took a deep breath. A volcano of laughter erupted. We laughed until we could only gasp for breath. Today, I still feel sorry for the way we humiliated that plumber working under our kitchen sink, bent over on all fours, with his pants exposing portions of his backside not intended for public view.
It's twenty-five years later. My son and I are hanging around and we head into the local coffee shop. I look forward to my morning coffee. We saunter to the counter and I order my usual 'tall house coffee' and Brandon glances at me with his 'Can I have the hot chocolate with the marshmallow syrup?' look. I nod. He smiles. We place our order. The girl behind the counter turns around, bends over to get a new coffee filter, and to my horror I am again exposed to the unthinkable. Only this time the backside view is not of a slightly over-weight, balding, family man, but of a young, attractive, shapely female. This time it is not funny. Quickly, I attempt to distract my son to shield him from the view. One minute later her pleasant voice says, "Here is your coffee!" She hands us our drinks with a smile. My mind is torn between admiring her great customer service and abhorring her lack of modesty.
Two similar stories, however, each experience had completely different effects on me. The first story is funny because twenty-five years ago anyone would be embarrassed and humiliated to have their backside exposed for public view. The second story is shocking because she was neither embarrassed nor humiliated. Sadly, the second story repeats it self often today. I am saddened that virtually everywhere my sons and I go, I must guard their eyes from immodest clothing and from the intentional exposure of what should be considered private parts.
It would be easy to excuse this behavior as 'worldly' but unfortunately scenes like this are common in the Christian community as well. It is disturbing and distracting when a believer's voice worships the Lord but his or her manner of dress communicates something completely different by exposing backs and bellies, boxers and thongs. God did not intend us to flaunt our bodies in an immodest way but to "offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." Romans 12:1. We are to live in the world but does that mean we are to dress like the world? As Christians we are to "no longer conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2. Therefore we should not dress immodest like the world.
What does this article have to do with fathers? Everything! Aren't fathers to be the leaders, protectors, nurturers, and providers of our families? "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph. 6:4. "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory" 1 Thessalonians 2:10.
Fathers today have become passive and silent when they need to speak up. We men love to brag about our toughness and how we stand up to injustice. But when it really counts, like defending our families, we often remain silent.
Being silent isn't a phenomenon of today but has reigned over the earth since the original forefather. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had dominion over all the earth and could do anything except eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve always gets the bad rap for being deceived and taking a bite of the fruit. But where was Adam - her husband? "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." Gen. 3:6 Adam was right there, side-by-side with Eve watching as she took her bite of death. Adam remained silent. Today many men continue in this legacy of being silent. Too often we let our wives be the disciplinarians, the leaders, and the decision makers when we should be living out our God-given ability to lead, protect, correct, and guide.
Often we remain silent when our children watch movies they shouldn't, listen to music they shouldn't and dress the way they shouldn't. When your son has more of his boxers showing then not and you do nothing, you're like Adam - silent. When your daughter goes to a movie with her friends and has two inches of her belly showing or her pants do not cover her hips and you do nothing, you're like Adam - silent. You may think this is being a little old fashioned or that modesty is a thing of the past. What I am saying is that if we claim to be Christians then we should act or dress in a way that glorifies God. Godliness however, is not a standard that changes with time or culture.
Fathers, I do not want to be remembered as one who was silent. I urge you to speak up. Will you walk out of the theatre when the movie is inappropriate? Will you turn off the television when a program turns foul? Do your children see you close your eyes during underwear commercials? Have you taken your sons and daughter shopping for clothes? It's fun! Talk about the appropriate clothing and inappropriate clothing.
Our children are looking to us to lead them. They long for their fathers "blessing" but also his direction. They don't appreciate harsh "no's" or "You can't do that!" Communicate and explain your reasoning for what and why you believe as you do. Show them in a loving way what God's Word says about an issue.
Dads let not be like deer caught in the headlights with our eyes wide open like saucers and our chins dropped to the floor, with our own children. We must do our best to not be exposed to the unthinkable. The world tells our children they must be sexy, beautiful, alluring, and immodest to be loved. That is a big fat lie. You and I both know that. Our children need their father's loving kindness and involvement. I pray every day that I will be full of grace and truth just as our Lord Jesus Christ. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14.
Through Christ I can be a tender, loving and wise father able to lead, protect and guide my family. You can too.
Contributed by Deb Laswell