Keith Hunt - Healthy Sel-Love - Page Three   Restitution of All Things

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Healthy Self-Love

How to teach your children to have it

We continue with the old but fine book on "Child-Rearing and
Personality Development," by Paul Meier, M.D.


How to Teach Your Child
to Love Himself in a Healthy Way

     The title of this section may sound alien to many Christians
who have, unfortunately, been brought up in churches where they
were taught that self-hatred is a virtue rather than a sin. Many
were taught that salvation is acquired by obeying denominational
rules and regulations, self-punishment, tithing, hiding all
emotions, attending all church services, and by constantly
reminding yourself of how worthless you really are. These
Christians become chronically depressed, and that's why I see so
many of them in my office. Dr.O Quentin Hyder talks about
perfectionism, legalistic Christians, and forgiveness when he
states:

     Perfection in this life is categorically impossible. If it
     were possible, we would need no redemption in Christ. But
     striving toward perfection in the sense of trying to live a
     life in conformity with the will of God is not only possible
     but our aim as a Christian.... We cannot attain perfection
     but we must strive toward it, not in the sense of trying to
     earn our salvation by good works, but as an act of gratitude
     to Christ for having already saved us by His atoning death.
     Unhappily, legalistic Christians cannot see this. They have
     heard it a hundred times from the pulpit, but they have
     great difficulty accepting forgiveness. They are often
     people whose parents were very demanding, never satisfied
     with their efforts, and unforgiving of their failures. These
     emotional pressures, especially on impressionable,
     sensitive, and vulnerable children, lead to an inability in
     adult life to believe that it is possible to be forgiven.
     They think that forgiveness is something for nothing. This
     is erroneous. Indeed it costs nothing to become a Christian
     initially, but it costs everything to be a Christian and
     live up to the pledge made at the moment of commitment to
     Christ. It costs absolute surrender of the will to God to
     live the sort of life, albeit imperfect, which God intended
     for us in this present world. Paul specifically admonished
     the Galatians against legalism and perfectionism in his
     letter to them. They were teaching the heresy that good
     works were necessary to supplement the redemptive work of
     Christ in salvation. Paul wrote: "Received ye the Spirit by
     works of law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish?
     having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the
     flesh?" (Galatimes 3:2-3). To the Romans he wrote: " .. by
     the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his
     sight" (Romans 8:20) and to the Colossians: "... ye are
     complete in him, which is the head of all principality and
     power" (Colossians 2:10).

     A majority of all the depressive neurotics I have treated
personally have been Christians from legalistic, negativistic
churches. They have the basic position in life that transactional
analysts call the "I'm not O.K. and you're not O.K." position, or
else the "I'm not O.K., but you're O.K." position, the latter
being somewhat less severe than the former. "I'm not O.K. and
you're not O.K." is the most emotionally harmful position a
person can have. Christians who have been taught (and believe)
this position withdraw from others and have neither self-worth
nor genuine love relationships with others, the two main
requirements of mental health. Many of them have a nervous
breakdown and become psychotic because reality - or at least
reality as they see it - is too painful to bear. If they don't
obey all the laws of the denomination, they are told that they
will lose their salvation. What an unbearable, frustrating life
that must be - to gain and lose one's salvation and never know
for sure if heaven or hell is waiting at death's door.

     The Apostle John told us, "And this is the record, that God
hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He
that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath
not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on
the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal
fife, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" (I
John 5:11-13). The Apostle Paul told us, "For by grace are ye
saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift
of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9). He
also said, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not
expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be
brought under the power of any" (I Cor.6:12). And so I would like
to ask legalistic churches the same question Paul asked the
church at Galatia, "Have ye suffered so many things in vain?"
(Gal.8:4).

     I know a Christian physician who suffered more than a year
of mental anguish and depression in spite of my best attempts to
help him, until he finally accepted the principle of God's grace.
What a difference in him now, as he continues life as a confident
Christian physician, eager to serve God out of love rather than
obligation.

     Is it really God's plan for us to love ourselves, and our
children to love themselves? If by love of self you mean vanity
and pride, the answer is, "Definitely Not." When God lists the
seven sins He hates the most, [actually it does not say "hate the
most" - it says "hate" and "abomination" but God has many more
sins He hates and are an abomination to Him - see Strong's
Corncordance under "hate" and "abomination" - Keith Hunt] He
leaves off such sins as adultery and divorce; but number one on
his "top seven" [ they are not dogmatically His "top seven" -
Keith Hunt] list is the sin of having "a proud look" (see
Prov.6:16-19). This is referring to a "better than thou"
attitude. It is the "I'm O.K., but you're not O.K." position of
sociopathic criminals and drug pushers? No, I am not referring to
sinful pride and vanity when I talk about the importance of
self-worth. I'm talking about loving ourselves in a healthy way -
in a way that pleases God because it makes us more useful in His
service, and because He loves us and wants us to experience the
abundant life.
     Mark 12:28-84 tells of a legal expert - a scribe - who came
to Jesus and asked Him which of the commandments is the most
important. Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel; The
LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God
with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your
strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these"
(Mark 12:29-S1, NASV). The Apostle Paul tells us, "So husbands
ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who
loves his own wife loves himself" (Eph.5:28, NASV). A person who
has a negative attitude toward himself will also be quite
critical of others. A person who doesn't love himself in a
healthy way will find it impossible to develop genuine love
relationships with others. Two of the most important concepts I
learned from my psychiatric training, both of which agree totally
with Scripture, are: (1) You cannot truly love others until you
learn to love yourself in a healthy may; (2) Lack of self-worth
is the basis of most psychological problems.

     One important aspect of loving yourself in a way that will
please God involves taking care of your body. If you want your
children to take proper care of their bodies, you need to take
care of your own. The Apostle Paul asked, "Know ye not that ye
are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in
you?" (I Cor.3:16). And further, "What? know ye not that your
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye
have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a
price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit,
which are God's" (I Cao.6:19-20). Paul called our bodies "the
temple of the living God" (2 Cor.6:16). These passages of
Scripture make it quite plain that our bodies are very important
to God. In fact, "the very hairs of your head are all numbered"
(Matt. 1:30).

     The fact that our bodies are God's temples has some serious
implications. It implies that out families, including ourselves,
should have healthy eating and sleeping habits, as well as
adequate exercise and recreation. When a person becomes more and
more irritable and gets angry over seemingly trite circumstances,
his personal physician knows that he is probably either anemic or
psychologically depressed - or both. Anemia is especially common
in females, because of their monthly menstrual cycles. Iron
supplements are frequently all that is needed. If your teenager
starts fad-eating or crash dieting, leaving protein out of his
diet, he may become anemic and more irritable and rebellious
although this is not the usual cause of adolescent rebellion.


Overeating can be just as detrimental to our physical and
emotional health. The incidence of heart attacks and other fatal
illnesses takes a sharp rise when we weigh about 20 percent more
than our recommended weight. If we overeat, we also have incresed
feelings of guilt and loss of self-esteem. It is somewhat
contradictory to tell our children to exercise self-control in
their lives while they watch us exercising poor self-control in
areas such as eating.

     Taking care of God's "temple" also implies healthy sleeping
habits. I have seen many zealous Christians totally ignore their
need for sleep, only to find themselves burned out a little while
later. God made sleep for the healing of both our bodies and our
minds. Sleep is much more important for mental health than it is
for physical rest, although it serves both functions. The average
adult dreams approximately twenty minutes out of every ninety
minutes that he sleeps. Children spend an even higher percentage
of their sleep-time dreaming. We remember dreaming, however, only
when we happen to wake up during a dream. That's why it may seem
to us that we seldom dream, even though we do several times every
night. It has been theorized, and I think correctly, that in our
dreams, bizarre as they may be, we symbolically reduce emotional
tensions, satisfying our unconscious conflicts. Going without
sleep for two or three days, many normal people will begin to
exhibit psychotic tendencies, such as delusions and paranoid
ideation.
     Our dreams are believed to be mediated by a chemical in the
brain known as serotonin. Before entering medical school, I was a
graduate student in human physiology at Michigan State
University, spending much of my time doing research on various
effects of serotonin. Among the things I learned about this
chemical which God created to help us stay mentally healthy is
that tryptophan - which our bodies use to make serotonin - is
found in high concentrations in milk, certain fruits (bananas,
for example), and certain meats (like liver), Through
electroencephalograms I learned that babies spend about nine of
their sleeping hours dreaming. Maybe that's one reason why babies
need so much milk. I also learned that LSD is a serotonin
antagonist - interfering with the serotonin in the brains of drug
users who are foolish enough to take it. I have seen a number of
psychiatric illnesses which were precipitated by LSD, including a
sharp, B+ average college student whose roommate talked him into
taking LSD just so he would know what it was like. He had a
normal response to it, so he tried it again sometime later. But
this time it disordered his brain chemistry to such an extent
that he had to drop out of college, and several months later,
when I saw him, he was still unable to concentrate long enough to
even enjoy reading a newspaper.

     In graduate school, I also learned that the average adult
needs about eight hours of sleep a night, although some can get
by on six hours, while others require ten hours. Teenagers need
about nine hours a night, elementary school children about ten,
preschoolers about twelve hours, and babies about sixteen to
eighteen hours of sleep per twenty-four hours. If an individual,
at any age, continually gets less than his require amount of
sleep, he's headed for trouble. The best way to get straight A's
in school - if that happens to be one of your ambitions - is to
study every day in a quiet room, get some exercise and
recreation, eat the right foods, stay in trune spiritually, get
some fellowship with others, memorize Bible verses for mental
exercise (and for spiritual maturity as well), and get eight
hours of sleep every night, especially the night before a big
test.
     Recreation is also important. Many Christians are
overly strict on themselves. They think watching a weekend
football game, hiking in the mountains, or even playing games
with friends, is a waste of time. They are very wrong. "All work
and no play makes Jack a dull boy" applies to parents as well as
to children. If a person spent all of his time in recreation, he
would, of course, accomplish nothing for the Lord. But there
needs to be a happy balance, and God intended it that way. Christ
Himself spent a great percentage of His three-year ministry
camping out in the mountains, sometimes with His disciples
(especially Peter and John), and sometimes alone. There in the
mountains, Christ could get away from the demanding crowds,
relax, meditate, commune with the Father, enjoy the world that He
Himself had created, and share intimately with His chosen
disciples. Christ spent most of the first half of those three
years just selecting and building His disciples. That is how
Christ, who was God in the flesh, decided He would have the most
effective ministry. 

     I have studied the life of Christ carefully in order to plan
my own activities in accordance with Christ's teachings and the
example of His life. We can see from all this that even such
mundane things as being sure you and your children get enough
recreation, a proper diet, and adequate amounts of sleep are vi-
tally important to the development of self-worth. The kinds of
spiritual food you feed your children, of course, are even more
important than the kinds of physical food. The overall spiritual
atmosphere of the home, including family devotions, the music
played, the type of TV shows watched, the neatness and
cleanliness of the home environment, the regularity of bedtime
and meals, spiritual insights shared, scriptural plaques on the
walls, the parental attitudes - all enter into the development of
spiritual self-worth.

     One extremely important area that we will discuss in some
detail at this point is how we, as parents, should handle sin in
the lives of our children. This includes some important concepts
we can pass on to our children about how they can handle
temptations in their own lives. In psychiatry, we learn that an
adult's attitudes toward God are influenced greatly by his
attitudes toward his own father while he was growing up. This
places a great deal of responsibility on those of us who are
fathers. For quite a while at Duke University I followed a
patient whose father was a dedicated cardiologist - so dedicated,
in fact, that he was away from home practically all the time
taking care of his medical practice. When he was home, he was
cold, indifferent, and tired. About the only comments my patient
ever received from his father were negative ones, correcting him
for being imperfect. My patient, a brilliant young Ph.D. now,
still went back home from time to time, wanting so badly for his
father to accept him, but he continued to receive primarily
criticism, that is, if his father was home at all. My patient
carried around tremendous guilt feelings all the time for not
being perfect. He falsely blamed himself for the lack of
acceptance by his father. Several times I shared my own personal
faith in the God of love, as well as God's offer of salvation and
forgiveness, but to no apparent avail. This patient was a devout
atheist. And I would have expected him to be, given the kind of
father image he grew up with. In general - and this is with some
exceptions, of course - my experience has been that patients
whose fathers were gone a lot, and negativistic when they were
home, or patients who had no father at all, tend to be atheists.

     In their subconscious minds, they want to believe there is
no God because they resent the fact that they had no father, or
one who was nearly always absent and negativistic. Oftentimes
they would like to repress their fathers right out of their
minds. But since they can't totally repress the existence of
their earthly fathers, they fool themselves into thinking there
is no God, or heavenly Father.
     Patients who had cold, passive, and frequently absent
fathers tend to believe that God is some cold, indifferent being
out in space somewhere. Their earthly fathers knew their children
existed, but were neither positive nor negative with their
children they more or less ignored them. And so these patients
believe there is a God who knows they exist, but doesn't really
care or even pay attention to mere earthlings. Patients who had
rigid, demanding, negativistic, overly punitive fathers have
tended to fall into two categories: some of these patients hated
their fathers so much that they became atheists as an unconscious
rebellion against the existence of their fathers; on the other
hand, most of them believe that there is a God, but that God is a
mean old man up there, holding a whip and just daring us to break
one of His rules so He can snap us with it! Many of the latter
group, surprisingly, are Christians. These are the Christians who
tend to migrate to legalistic, negativistic churches, where it
will be easier for them to live up to their unrealistic concept
of God's standards, based upon the standards of their earthly
fathers. These patients wanted their earthly fathers to accept
them, so they became rigidly perfectionistic in order to win
their fathers' approval, which they seldom won anyway. In the
same manner, they are afraid of God and His punishment, but they
want His acceptance and the only way they think they can get
it - deep down anyway - is by becoming rigidly perfectionistic
and denying their own natural feelings of anger and aggression.
They never really feel forgiven. They project their own anger
outward, convincing themselves that people are angry at them.
This is their usual way of lying to themselves about their own
anger. In psychiatry, this is called paranoid ideation. They
withdraw from all the people they imagine are so angry at them,
criticizing these other people excessively, to justify in their
own minds withdrawing from them. They have to believe they are
correct - probably because the real God of love is convincing
them that they are wrong - so they associate only with other
legalistic, negativistic people. Many of them join extremely
right-wing, semidelusional political organizations and
"religious" groups. 

     I know of thousands of Christians, whom I believe are
genuine, born-again believers, who are like ostriches with their
heads in the sand, thinking they are the only ones who are right,
or the only ones going to heaven. The pent-up anger they have
frequently causes them to become chronically depressed.
     On the other hand, patients who have had a father who loved
them, accepted them in spite of imperfections, spent time with
them, and punished them when they did things that he knew were
bad for them in the long run, generally have a healthy concept of
God.
     They believe in the existence of a God who loves them,
accepts them, listens to them, and disciplines them out of love.
If they haven't already put their faith in Jesus Christ, they do
so readily when I show them God's simple plan of salvation.
     I have also had a group of patients whose fathers were the
overly sweet type, who pampered them, bought them whatever they
pointed at in stores, seldom contradicted them, and hardly ever
punished them. These people tend to be religious liberals who are
quite idealistic, deny the sinful nature of man, and pretend that
there is no literal hell, in spite of the fact that Christ spent
more time (as recorded in the New Testament) warning people about
the reality of hell than He did discussing heaven. In Christ's
teachings, there are nearly twice as many verses about a literal
hell as there are verses telling us about heaven. These people
are a traveling salesman's delight, because they are so naive and
believe in the basic goodness of all mankind. Sociopaths and
alcoholics will get everything they can from these people,
including room, board, and financial support for their bad
habits. To be aware of the fact that someone is being blatantly
selfish and lying to them would ruin their deluded belief in
man's basic goodness, so they use a tremendous amount of denial
to lie to themselves about such situations.

     I hope those of us who are fathers, or who someday will be
fathers, will grasp the heavenly responsibility th t God has
given us. I sometimes wake up at night, and go to my children's
bedrooms. I pull their covers up to be sure they're warm, and
bend over to give them a soft kiss. Then I frequently get down on
my knees beside their beds and rededicate myself to God, to be
the kind of father He wants me to be, because I know God loves
them even more than I ever could. And I thank God for trusting me
with that responsibility.     

     Let's look at some more right and wrong ways to respond
to guilt, temptations, and sin in the lives of our children.


     First, I want to differentiate between true guilt and false
guilt. Freud seemed to think that all guilt is false guilt - that
guilt itself is a bad thing. Most of the psychiatrists I have
studied under and worked with agreed with the Freudian view -
that guilt is always an unhealthy thing, I disagree strongly.
True guilt, in my opinion, is the uncomfortable, inner awareness
that we have violated a moral law of God. It is produced
partially by the conviction of God's Holy Spirit, and partially
by our own conscience. Our conscience is what Freud called the
super-ego. Our conscience is molded by many influences in our
environment, such as what our parents taught was right or wrong,
what our parents practiced as being right or wrong (which isn't
always the same as what they taught), what our church taught was
right or wrong, what the people in our church practiced as being
right or wrong, what our friends thought was right or wrong, what
our teachers thought was right or wrong. If we studied the Bible,
our conscience would also be molded by what the Bible says is
right or wrong, but even that is influenced by our own
interpretations and sometimes misinterpretations. No two
consciences are exactly alike. God's Holy Spirit is always right,
but our consciences are frequently wrong. Someone with an
immature conscience can do something wrong and not know that it
is wrong, in which case his conscience will not bother him. Or we
can have an overgrown conscience if we have been taught that
everything is sin, and our conscience in that case will bother us
even when we do things that God Himself does not consider wrong.
This is what I call false guilt: feeling guilty for something
that God and His Word in no way condemn.

     On the other hand, true guilt is valuable. God uses it to
influence us to change our minds about what we are doing. That's
what repentance is all about. Then when we do what is right,
instead of what is wrong, we will be in fellowship with God, and
we will like ourselves more too. Doing what is wrong lowers our
self-worth. Doing what is right greatly improves our self-worth.
     In my experience as a psychiatrist, when people come to me
and tell me they feel guilty, it has usually been true guilt.
They feel guilty because they are guilty. And straightening out
what they were doing that is wrong sometimes is all that is
needed to straighten out their feelings of depression. But I have
also had many Christians come to me, especially from the
legalistic churches, to express feelings of guilt for things that
the Bible in no way condemns.
     They may feel guilty for being tempted, for example. It's no
sin to be tempted. But it is a sin to dwell on that temptation
and yield to it. Christ Himself was tempted - "For we have not an
high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
without sin" (Heb.4:15).
     The Apostle Paul talked about Christians who believed it a
sin to eat meat that had been offered to idols (see I Cor.8).
Back in Paul's day, the people would bring sacrifices to the
pagan temples. Then the priests would cut up the meat and sell it
to earn some spending money. They would sell this meat at a
discount, compared to meat prices at the nearby butcher store. In
some towns Paul preached in, the Christians thought it was
immoral to buy that meat, since it had been offered to idols. I
can see why they would think that, and I admire them for wanting
to do what they thought was right. Christians in other towns
thought it was perfectly fine to buy meat that had been offered
to idols. It was much cheaper, and they could invest their money
in better wags than to waste it on the expensive meat at the
butcher shop. The Apostle Paul said that God Himself had revealed
to him that eating meat that had been offered to idols was all
right. God old him there was nothing immoral about it in His
eyes. But He told Paul not to show off his liberty in front of
Christians with weaker consciences (weaker in the sense of being
more easily offended), so whenever Paul was in a town where
Christians thought it was wrong, he wouldn't eat meat which had
been offered to idols. That was diplomacy, not hypocrisy, and I'm
sure Paul did it out of love and empathy. He had more important
things to teach them, and he didn't want to hurt his testimony.
That would diminish his effectiveness. He knew that when people
make up their minds something is wrong, not even a direct message
from God can change their minds!

Paul Tournier, the Christian psychiatrist from Switzerland, calls
true guilt "value guilt," and he calls false guilt, "functional
guilt." Tournier says:

     A feeling of "functional guilt" is one which results from
     social suggestion, fear of taboos or of losing the love of
     others. A  feeling of "value guilt" is the genuine
     consciousness of having betrayed an authentic standard; it
     is a free judgment of the self by the self. On this
     assumption, there is a complete opposition between these two
     guilt-producing mechanisms, the one acting by social
     suggestion, the other by moral conviction...... "False
     guilt" is that which comes as a result of the judgments and
     suggestions of men. "True guilt" is that which results from
     divine judgment.... Therefore real guilt is often something
     quite different from that which constantly weights us down,
     because of our fear of social judgment and the disapproval
     of men. We become independent of them in proportion as we
     depend on God .

Dr. O. Quentin Hyder states that:

     The causes of false guilt stem back to childhood upbringing.
     Too rigid a superego or conscience can only be developed by
     too rigid expectations or standards imposed by parents. For
     example, parents who excessively blame, condemn, judge, and
     accuse their children when they fail to match up to their
     expectations cause them to grow up with a warped idea of
     what appropriate standards are. Unforgiving parents who pun-
     ish excessively increase guilt.
     Adequate and proper punishment given in love and with
     explanation removes guilt. Some parents give too little 
     encouragement, praise, thanks, congratulations, or appreciation. 
     Instead they are never satisfied. However well the child performs 
     in any area of school, play, sports, or social behavior, the
     parents make him feel they are dissatisfied because he did
     not do even better. The child sees himself as a constant
     failure, and he is made to feel guilty because he failed. He
     does not realize at his young age what harm his parents are
     doing to his future feelings of self-worth. He grows up
     convinced that anything short of perfection is failure.
     However hard he tries, and even if he actually performs to
     the maximum that he is capable of, he grows up feeling
     guilty and inferior.
     As an adult he suffers from neurotic or false guilt, low
     self esteem, insecurity, and a self-depreciatmy pessimistic
     outlook on all his endeavors and ambitions. He then blames
     himself and this leads to anger turned inward. He attempts
     to inflict punishment upon himself because of his feelings
     of unworthiness. His failures deserve to be judged and pun-
     ished, and since no one else can do it for him, he punishes
     himself. This intropunitive retribution, part anger and part
     hostility, leads inevitably to depression. It can also cause
     psychosomatic complaints and inappropriate sorts of actions.

     Dr.Hyder says the only treatment for false guilt is
understanding it and evaluating it for what it really is.
Feelings of bitterness and pride need to be separated from what
the patient interprets as feelings of guilt. The patient needs to
understand that he has no right to condemn himself - only God has
that right, and Christians should leave judging and condemning to
God alone. Then he needs to set new goals for himself that are
realistically attainable, and no longer compare himself to others
who are more gifted than he is in specific areas. Instead, he
should compare his performance with what he believes God expects
of him. God doesn't expect us or our children to achieve sinless
perfection in this life. But He does want us to seek His will in
our lives to the best of our abilities.

     The Apostle Paul compares entering the Christian life to
entering the Sabbath Day rest (see Heb.4:1-9). God wants us to
rest in Him, and in His power. Martin Luther struggled for years
with the legalistic expectations of his religion, until he
learned that "the just shall live by faith" (Rom.1:17), and that
"man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom.
3:28). Then he trusted God's grace rather than his own good works
to save him. In 1529, Luther penned the famous hymn, "A Mighty
Fortress Is Our God." In this hymn, Luther expresses his
appreciation of the fact that our God is an all-powerful God and
that we should let Him win our battles for us, resting in His
power rather than our own. In the second verse of that hymn,
Luther refers to God by the Old Testament name, Lord Sabaoth,
which in Hebrew means "Lord of Hosts," and refers to God's
omnipotence. Let's take a look at that second verse:

     Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be
     losing; Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God's
     own choosing. Dust ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is
     He; Lord Sabbath His Name,
     From age to age the same, And HE must win the battle.

     We have already discussed the notion some Christians have
that God is a mean old man, holding a whip, who is just waiting
to crack us with that whip whenever we break one of His rigid
rules. But the God of the Bible is not like that at all. God is
perfect love, and perfect justice. God didn't make rules so He
could whip us when we break one. God gave us principles to live
by so we can enjoy the abundant life and the fruits of the
Spirit. God has set up natural laws for human nature just as for
physical nature. If we do not abide by God's principles, we will
suffer the natural consequences He has established. Sin is the
transgression of those laws or principles which God has set up
(see I John 3:4). All of us have sinned many times. Paul tells us
that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.
8:28). He tells us that the ultimate reward for those sins is
eternal death in hell, but that in perfect love and grace, God
offers us the free gift of eternal life and forgiveness for all
of our sins - past, present, and future (see John 1:12; 8:16;
Rom. 6:28; 10:18; Eph.2:8-9).
     When a person becomes a Christian, he is a new creation.
Paul tells us that "if any man be in Christ, hee is a new
creature:

     old things are passed away; behold, all things are became
     new" (2 Cor.5:17). 

     But this does not mean he has reached sinless perfection.
Far from it. Sanctification, which is the process of gradually
becoming more and more like Christ, now takes place in the
growing Christians life. Just as a newborn babe needs milk,
the newly reborn spiritual babe - the new Christian - needs a lot
of spiritual milk. The Apostle Peter said, "As newborn babes,
desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I
Peter 2:2). The "word" means God's Word, of course - the Bible.
Daily devotions are a must for continued growth in spiritual and
emotional maturity. I began reading my Bible every day when I was
ten years old. There's no reason why our own children can't start
even sooner. We began using an illustrated Bible story book for
our oldest son when he was two years old, and when he turned
four, my wife started to teach him short Bible verses. Recall the
time Christ's disciples were getting ready to chase some children
away so He wouldn't have to bother with them, but Christ told His
disciples, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).

     Then Christ explained to His disciples that even adults have
to accept Him with the simple faith of a little child in order to
become a part of God's kingdom. Thus, we can be assured that God
desires to be in communion with our children, and that their
meditations on God and His Word will help them overcome
temptations. Devotions are especially important during those four
traumatic years between twelve and sixteen, when your sons and
daughters grow from being boys and girls into men and women, with
all the associated hormone changes, impulses, cravings, and
feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
     The Apostle Paul said, "There hath no temptation taken you
but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not
suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with
the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to
bear it" (I Cor.10:13. This verse was a tremendous help to me
when I memorized it as a young teenager, and it continues to be.
Pan also said, "And my God shall supply all your needs according
to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:19, NASV). The
human body, soul, and spirit have a multitude of needs. Satan
will usually tempt us through our natural physical and emotional
needs. These needs include the need for air, food, water,
stimulation, sex, love, self-worth, power, aggression, comfort,
security, and relief from psychic tensions. Many Christians have
been erroneously taught that living the Christian life means
totally denying many of these natural needs. The Christian may be
called upon by God to deny some of his wants, but God has already
promised to supply all of our needs. There's a difference. No
wonder so many people are afraid to become Christians. They have
been told that becoming a Christian means denying many natural
needs. What foolishness! God created these needs within us. He
can use all of the needs in our lives for His own glory. He
promised us in Philippians 4:19 that He would supply all our
needs, not deny them. But He wants to supply them in His way, and
according to His principles of love. Satan wants to supply these
same needs in his way, according to his principles of
selfishness, greed, and hate. Our needs are not temptations.
Satan's ways of meeting them are the temptations. Our natural
human tendency is to meet our needs in Satan's ways. It takes the
New Birth (technically it's not a birth, it's a begettal, or
converted from the old natural human way to the spiritual and
holy way of God through His Holy Spirit - Keith Hunt) and
spiritual insights to see how we can meet these natural needs in
God's ways, with much greater ultimate joy and satisfaction.

     Take the need for sex, for instance. God made sex and God
made the need for sex. God made the male and female sex hormones
that influence our sexual drives. In males, they reach their peak
in the late teens. In females, they don't reach their peak until
the early thirties (I doubt the latter to be correct - Keith
Hunt) I don't know why God made it that way, but I'm sure He had
a reason. I imagine the temptations during the late teenage years
would be much greater than they already are if male and female
reached their peaks at the same time (I believe the very clear
facts today are that BOTH male and female a have pretty active
peak of sex hormones by their late teens - Keith Hunt). But God
has provided a way to satisfy those sexual needs - through an
intimate marriage. (And in the Jewish world of Christ's time,
most females and males were married by their late teens, that is
just one of the facts of Jewish recorded history - Keith Hunt).

     God has also provided ways to relieve sexual tensions in
single males, such as "wet dreams" during sleep at night. That
serotonin really works overtime during the teenage years! I'm
sure that God uses these unconscious dreams in disguised symbolic
language to release sexual tensions in a way that will not
produce guilt feelings in the individual. I personally do not
recommend masturbation. The Bible never mentions it specifically,
but does warn us to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul" (I Peter 2:11). Teenage patients who talk to me
about masturbation almost always express guilt feelings about it,
and their guilt is usually about their thoughts rather than the
action itself. I usually inform them that my medical books say
that 99 percent of males masturbate and that the other 1 percent
are usually lying about it. Then I tell them my personal opinion,
that they would probably feel less guilt if they would stop and
allow God to relieve their sexual tensions through wet dreams.
Many of them are relieved to find out that they are not the only
ones who have ever done this, or that it is not the unpardonable
sin. I let them know that some godly men think there is nothing
wrong with it, but that my own opinion is that it stirs up
fleshly lusts which war against the soul. I highly recommend that
you fathers discuss this topic privately with your teenage sons,
and you mothers with your daughters, since 60 percent of females
practice it regularly also. I recommend that you approach it
matter-of-factly, with an accepting attitude. You would probably
be surprised how much things like this plague teenagers as well
as adults.

     Frequent social contacts with spiritually mature members of
the opposite sex are also a healthy outlet. I personally will
never allow my sons or daughters to date anyone who is not a
growing Christian. When they are eighteen years old and go off to
college, they'll be on their own. But until then, they'll have my
conscience to live with as well as their own. But Christian
dating meets the sexual needs of their spirit and soul. I usually
recommend group dating at age fourteen, double dating at age
fifteen, and single dating at age sixteen, for teenagers of
average maturity. Allowing your teenagers to date ahead of this
schedule will usually subject them to more temptations than they
are able to handle. Their bodies mature more quickly than their
emotional levels. Those Christians who say that our sexual
needs - spiritual, emotional, or physical - are dirty or sinful
are saying that God made a mistake in creating them within us. In
fact, a portion of our brain (known as the limbic brain) was
specifically designed by God to handle, among other things, the
sexual drives in our life.
     The conclusion of this discussion about temptations is that
we should not deny our natural needs. Nor should we meet them in
Satan's ways. Either of these methods of dealing with our needs
would only serve to create even more intense temptations. We
should meet all our needs in God's ways, including our sexual
needs, and thus take away Satan's power to tempt us. The
Christian life will be much easier if our needs are being met.
God wants them to be. If there are no unsatisfied needs, there
will be no temptations. So teach these concepts to your children,
and tell them that the next time they are tempted, they should
stop to think about which of their needs they have not been
meeting lately. Then recommend that they ask God to help them to
meet that need in a way that will be pleasing to Him rather than
Satan. This will do tremendous things for their self-worth. It
will relieve a lot of guilt. It will also constantly remind them
that God loves them and is concerned about their everyday needs.
And your accepting attitude will show them, at least on a
subconscious level, that God is also quite understanding and
accepting of the struggles and temptations they go through.
     Self-worth comes from doing what we know is right, and not
doing those things that we believe are wrong. When we do things
that we know are selfish and sinful, we lose self-worth. There's
no way around it. And emotional problems are sure to follow as
our self-worth continues to depreciate in value. Its bad enough
to have our money depreciate. So let's invest in something that
can appreciate in value - our own selfworth and the self-worth of
our children. God admonishes us, "Cast not away therefore your
confidence, which hath great recompence of reward" (Heb.10:35).

     If our children choose Satan's ways to meet their needs,
they will be casting away their confidence in their own good
character. Encourage them rather to enter the "Sabbath Rest"
described in Hebrews and simply to turn their lives over to God,
relying on His power to help them live by His principles, so they
can develop His way of thinking and thoroughly enjoy the abundant
life.
     Even the vast complexity of our human bodies teaches us that
we are of great worth to the God who created us for His glory. In
an average day, the average human being will breathe over 28,000
times, inhaling about 436 cubic feet of air. His heart will beat
over 100,000 times and will pump over 250 pounds of blood per
hour. He will use over 450 major muscles and 9 billion brain
cells. His blood cells will travel thousands of miles. His body
is made up of about 60 trillion cells. Dividing them up, he could
give 15,000 cells to each man, woman, and child on the planet
earth. And each cell contains thousands of enzymes, ribosomes,
golgi apparatuses, endoplasmic reticula, DNA, RNA, and hundreds
of other minute structures that all work together like a complete
factory. The average human has about 20 billion brain cells and
nerve cells, and they are arranged with millions of
interconnections like a very complex computer. Scientists have
estimated that to build a computer with the capabilities and
circuitry of the human brain, they would need a building the size
of the Pentagon to house it. Surely we are fearfully and
wonderfully made, as the Bible tells us (see Ps.139:14). [of
course today the building needed would not be anywhere the size
of the Pentagon, such is modern technology in 2007 which did not
exist 30 years ago when Dr. Meier wrote this book - Keith Hunt]

     If the blood cells of an average human were lined up in
single file, they would reach all the way to the moon and halfway 
back.
	Christ tells us that a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground 
without the Father knowing about it - and we are much more important 
than those sparrows - so much so that even the hairs of our head are
numbered (see Matt.10:29-33). God said of man, "For I have
created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made
him" (Isa.43:7). If any of you ever start believing Satan's lie
that you are inferior, or if your children ever express to you
the feeling that they are inferior, just turn to Psalm 139. Psalm
139 is God's prescription for feelings of inferiority. 

     I want to conclude this section on how to develop self-worth
in your children by again quoting portions of that psalm,

     O LORD, YOU have examined my heart and know everything about
     me. You know when I sit or stand. When far away you know my
     every thought. You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me
     where to stop and rest. Every moment, you know where I am.
     You know what I am going to say before I even say it. You
     both precede and follow me, and place your hand of blessing
     on my head. This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe!
     I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away
     from my Godl If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go
     down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the
     morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there your hand
     will guide me, your strength will support me. If I try to
     hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. For
     even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines
     as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.
     You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit
     them together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me
     so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your
     workmanship is marvelous - and how well I know it. You were
     there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw
     me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life
     before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your
     Book! How precious it is, Lord to realize that you are
     thinking about me comtantlyl I can't even count how many
     times a day your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken
     in the morning, you are still thinking of mel
     .. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts.
     Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and
     lead me along the path of everlasting life.
     - Psalm 189:1-18, 28-24, LB

                             .................

To be continued  with "From Conception to Age Six: General
Principles"

Entered on this Website June 2007

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