Question:

I was addicted to alcohol and used drugs from the time I was 11 until about 25. I had a baby at 25 and began thinking strongly about how my parents' choices and life of sin had shaped me into the person I had been. After feeling something in my life needed to change - I visited a little church and when my daughter was about a year old I dedicated my life to Christ. I am saved by the blood of Jesus. I have a son who came several years later. Since my daughter was one and all of my son's life, we have been in church. I attend three services a week and I get to teach the teen class on Wednesday nights. I am very thankful to God for what He has done for me. All to His glory.

My daughter is now 17 years old. She has always been a good girl and has been very strong in her faith in God. In the last year she has ventured out to be a little rebellious and has made some choices that were not pleasing according to God's Word.

She has allowed her grades to go from straight A's to some B's to now some C's. She has made it clear to a few people in our church's teen class that the one area of her life I can't have a say in is whom she dates. She has selected three boys in the last six months to date who are not Christian boys and do not attend church regularly. Earlier this year she had a wreck. She was OK but injured enough to require an emergency room visit and a little less than forty stitches. She asked to go to a revival with me the following Saturday night, went to the altar at that revival and cried very hard. Then over the next few days talked about realizing the error of her ways.

Now it is a few months later. I know she truly meant it at the time of repentance she had, but we are almost back to where we were before the accident. Just this morning she told me some things that for sure does not line up with God's Word via text and she was a little rude in the way she conveyed her thoughts. I am seeing some things in her actions, reactions, and words that make me feel her heart is torn between what she has been shown in God's house and in my example and what she desires to do.

My question or problem is this: I have several nieces that are about her age or a little older. Not one of them have been raised in a church and not one of them is daily living their lives for the Lord. Recently, one of the nieces asked her to go to a concert where alcohol was served. I didn't feel she should go but her father gave her permission to go and I honored his decision. I have chosen "not to worry about tomorrow," but should she be spending time with them? I talked with her prior to going and told her I felt she was allowing the world and even people in our family to work to pull her away from God, and that I was concerned with some of her choices. She said with tears flowing that she believed God was allowing her to spend time with these people in our family not to pull her away from God but to use her to pull them closer to Him. I asked her if she knew what the deciding factor would be in this & she quickly answered "me." I told her yes and that God knew if this were truly the desires of her heart or if she were just telling me something godly because she knew it was what I wanted to hear.

Is there a scripture or story from the Bible that tells me what I should be doing? Should I be allowing my daughter to spend time with other teenage girls who are drinking, using drugs, having sex and have even been in the vehicle with people when drug deals were made? Should I have an attitude that she is better than this behavior and she should not want to spend time with them? Recently a mentor whom I value very much told me "God loves those girls too." I know God loves them and I know it is God's will that none should perish, but is it biblical for me to in a sense "sacrifice" my daughter's innocence and moral values in order to possibly help these girls? What does the Bible suggest would be right?


Answer:

Like many teenagers, your daughter lets her emotions lead her. She strayed because it felt like a good thing to do at the time. She returned because the emotions at the revival turned her heart to think about God again. But as you are seeing, emotions change. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). I even see it in her answer that the deciding factor is "me." I would have said the correct answer is always "God."

If you want her to make good decisions, then she needs to know what God means by walking wisely. If you don't want her drinking, then she needs to know why, from the Scriptures, that God says Christians are to be sober-minded. (See: Old Testament Beverages and New Testament Beverages.) If you don't want her having sex outside of marriage, she needs to know why that not only fornication is wrong, but also why lewdness, lust, sexual talk, and sexual touching are all wrong. (See: Why Sex Outside of Marriage is Wrong and Marriage's Glue for a start.) A person's faith comes from God's teachings. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). And it is that trust is what God said that keeps the individual away from sin. "Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me" (Psalms 119:133).

Yes, we should be an influence for good, but we cannot do this while joining the world in things that are not righteous. Paul said he acted, "to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law" (I Corinthians 9:21). Noticed that he placed Christ's law first in his life, then he did what he could to help others to Christ. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3). To encourage someone not to drink, you don't go to the drinking parties, you suggest doing fun things that don't involve drinking.

Clearly your daughter's presence is not changing the behavior of the people she is with. Rather, they are seeing it as her acceptance of their sins.

She is still your daughter and still lives in your home. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). She still needs direction and information to make better decisions.