The “Grandkid-Effect” on Theology

The man who was my pastor growing up just recently walked his daughter down the aisle, and gave her away at a same-sex wedding. This man who had a great influence in shaping my Christian faith and was primarily responsible for me entering the ministry was now a participant in something he stood against when I was growing up. What changed inside him to make this theological leap and support something he knows is a sin? I haven’t asked him, but if I had to guess the reply would be something like “love trumps everything.”

He is not alone in this view. It is a change among many older pastors as their children become adults. They change their theology as they try to balance the work of ministry and being allowed to see their grandchildren. Andy Stanley recently caused an uproar when he encouraged the church to affirm the homosexual lifestyle. Stanley is the most visible example of a growing number of pastors and Christian leaders acquiescing to the thought of the day. You could make excuses for them, but Stanley is too well-versed in the Bible and polished as a communicator to fall under that category.  

What is causing this theological slide? Why are so many seasoned ministers changing their theology? There is not one specific cause. There is a shift going on within the church culture. Churches are becoming progressive, and some pastors are “deconstructing” their faith over issues like homosexuality and transgenderism. In the name of “loving your neighbor,” they exchange Biblical truth for pop ideology and long-held tradition for felt experience.  

Many of these older ministers started pastoring during less connected times. Their messages and mannerisms weren’t displayed on the internet, where they can be critiqued years later. They could say what they wanted from the pulpit and receive little pushback. Digital media has changed all that and can produce a firestorm many are unwilling to stand against. 

One reason I have heard for the theological shift is the “grandkid effect.” As the minister’s children become adults, get married, and have their children, the dynamic of the family changes. Many of these adult children have different beliefs, values, and sometimes lifestyles than their parents. For these pastors to see their grandchildren, they must soften their scripture stance. They change their theology because acceptance and approval are more important than truth. What they stood against decades ago has become personal, and they don’t want to ostracize their children or upset their wives. It is subtle at first. They start by softening their language and changing their tone. They say, “God tells us to love our neighbor.” After that, it moves into affirming the lifestyle. 

It is not easy to practice what you preach. Ministry wears on your after time. The pain from rifts in the church and lost friendships takes its toll. The easy thing to do is circle the wagons of the family and do everything to keep it intact. The danger is that you do everything you can to keep it together. This can lead people to overlook issues that pop up. This overlooking can lead to overcompensating for a grown child who has wandered off the path. Trying to keep up appearances that everything is okay can only exacerbate the situation. 

How do you handle controversial issues with your children? Let us turn to God’s Word. In Luke 12:51-53, Jesus said, 

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Following Jesus will cause division. The integrity required from elders and pastors means they will have a unique challenge. People are offended whenever you call sin for what it is.

We must take a stand when dealing with people close to us who oppose the truth of God’s Word. Do it with grace and a loving tone, but stand firm. Stay who you were before the issue became known. You are likely to be accused of being unloving and hateful, but by word and deed, do your best to make that charge baseless. They are trying to pin you in a corner and manipulate you. Gently respond with the truth that disproves their accusations. 

When words no longer have their desired effect, they often turn to leverage. They will use whatever means they have to force you to approve their choices. This is especially true when it comes to grandchildren. I have seen this over and over. The quickest way to break a grandmother’s heart is to prevent her from seeing her grandchildren. Wives quickly turn on their husbands. This is where it is essential to be united and have patience. We need to call their bluff. It may take time, but I have found most parents enjoy the blessings of having grandparents around to go without it for too long. Some are outright dependent upon them. 

Finally, don’t waddle in the mud. It is said, “Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both will get muddy, but he will enjoy it.” Don’t get caught up in petty arguments. Your grown child will pull out every mistake you made as a parent, bring up every bit of hypocrisy, and remind you of all the sacrifices they made as a pastor’s kid. Stay above the fray. You don’t have to pay reparations for your past mistakes. The blood of Jesus Christ covers you. There has never been a perfect parent to walk this earth. Freely admit your mistakes but remember that is not enough leverage to change your mind on what is and is not true. Even if you did something to damage your child, the choices they now make are entirely on them. Stay true to Christ, love them like you always have, and pray that God will redeem the situation.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

18 thoughts on “The “Grandkid-Effect” on Theology”

  1. I so needed the article about the grandchildren effect. We are walking in something we never saw coming. But GOD is good. And GOD is in control.

    I know I must not let my children or grands unbiblical decisions take my JOY in CHRIST away.

  2. Thanks, Chuck – you’re walking through a minefield with this one. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts. And then He said that a second is like it – to love one another as I have loved you. These two commandments remain the greatest commandments, yet they have been reversed in order of priority and experience in the current theological mood. Jesus indicated that God is first and people are second. In the current theological mood people are first and God is second.

    1. We’ll said Tim. Fear of man i.e. children, wives, etc, is at the heart idolatry’. When we put anyone ahead of Christ in our heart we are unfaithful to Jesus; similarly when we put our children ahead of our spouse we are unfaithful to Christ and our spouse, we are never one flesh with our children yet this is a great sin of many parents, most frequently wives/mothers who spend so much time with their children that they are deceived and put their children ahead of the children. It becomes a co- dependency and husbands/fathers are the victims. God is orderly while satan is the author of hatred and anarchy.

      1. Very well said Mike,
        I assume you meant “ …. Wives/mothers … putting children ahead of their husbands …”. As is written in scripture 1 Cor 11:3 “I would have you know, however, that of every man, Christ is the Head, that of a woman her husband is the Head, and that God is Christ’s Head.” It is in deed very dishonoring to God that anyone move His authorities up/down within our hearts as we please, and particularly within the family which is a “little church” as the Puritans rightly believed. As structures and order breakdown within the most organic unit created by God, I.e. the family, so too does the corporate Church which is a collective family. It is disgraceful to hear Pastor diminish the authority and responsibility of husbands from the pulpit, to elevate themselves in the eyes of women within their congregations.

  3. Kiyini James Elam

    Andy Stanley recently caused an uproar when he encouraged the church to affirm the homosexual lifestyle.
    I have been a follower of Andy Stanley on TV series but this statement has made me loose interest

  4. It worries me. How and where do I make a stand? If the church I go to starts to approve same sex marriages, do I leave? It seems all the churches save the RC and one or two others are making this decision. By continuing to belong to that church I am condoning the decision?

    1. A number of years ago the Episcopal diocese of the San Joaquin Valley (California) was divided over this very question. Many conservative Episcopal congregations separated from the larger body due to the larger body affirming homosexuality and conducting same-sex marriages. One priest said, “We are not leaving you because you affirm homosexuality and conduct same-sex unions, we are leaving you because you have abandoned the authority of Scripture.”

      So, should you leave a church that has abandoned the authority of Scripture? Yes! Churches that abandon the authority of Scripture are apostate churches. So, should you leave an apostate church? Yes!

  5. Thanks for this, Chuck, it is indeed a minefield as Tim said!
    But the good news is… the Lord is our “minesweeper” of sorts, well, the Holy Spirit is. Are we just around the corner from what Canadian, Aussie, and British pastors are enduring? I hope not, but we must be ready to take a gracious but firm stand.
    Love may cover a multitude of sins, but it doesn’t condone or embrace it (1 Pet 4:8; Prov 16:6). Thanks again for the encouragement!

  6. Safe, legal, and rare became abortion till the day of birth for any reason, and affirming same sex unions exploded into the total gender confusing of children. The extremes expose these lies to such an extent that I can’t see how anyone with a relationship with Jesus Christ can fall for them. I would be very concerned about the salvation of any loved ones who have “fallen” for these lies. John 12:42-43 says: “But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” – To be put out of the synagogue was to be put out of the marketplace, which is exactly what the secular pharisees on the left do if you will not accept their “progressive” morality. Make no mistake wokeism is a religion that worships the God of self and the left has stepped in to be the purveyors of morality because the church left a void by compromise and self censorship. It is devastating to watch a culture that has lost touch with reality, especially when it is due to so many being silent when they should have taken courage to speak truth. The church is supposed to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (1Tim. 3:15) but unfortunately we collectively lacked the courage to stop the insanity before it caused the human carnage that we are witnessing today. On the positive side, I pray (and believe) that we are in the beginnings of a Great Awakening. I also pray for men and women of courage to continue to rise up and speak truth to power, and that truth would go forth and truth would be believed.

    1. Amen!! I shared this article with family members and friends! So helpful! Thank you for your reply’s! God’s Word is truth and we live by His ways!

    2. David:
      This is not a “left” vs. “right” issue nor is it a “progressives” vs. “conservatives” issue. You err by bringing political “leanings” into the discussion, and surely you don’t believe the morality of right-leaning conservatives is higher because it is not. We ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The issue is sin. The issue is waning morality from the pulpit. Some pastors are buckling under the pressure of “accept us or else” as if the sin of homosexuality is an axe chopping away at the root of their faith and weakening their stand in the truth of the Bible. I am a Nana to two precious little ones. It would break my heart to have them withheld from me and used as a bartering tool to force me to turn from what I know God has said about homosexuality. Deuteronomy 7:2 says, “… You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy with them.” When Jesus said we should love our neighbors as ourselves He did not say we have to assimilate, absorb, or accept their sin and compromise our faith. He means we are not to harbor sin in our hearts against them. Love means we are to bear all things, but bearing does not equate to buckling.

  7. This seems to be a popular topic, our pastor just made a clear statement about our church’s position. He emphasized Grace and Truth. Grace is alway based upon Truth and Truth can be spoke as long as we give Grace. This topic has disturbed the older member because they see this as pandering to the fringe or to a sin. The younger group see it as essential that the Church take a position so that we aren’t a bate and switch when they are invested. I did some research of why this cultural effect is resonating. I looked at the census numbers and they show that the number that identify themselves as gay or trans are in fact 7.5% of the population but in the target demographic for most churches 25-39 yr olds it is 20%. This means that in this key population they either know a person that identifies as gay or trans or are gay or trans. This definitely need to be addressed if we are to be equipping this target group to deal with the culture. We need to provide the scriptural basis of why God looks at this sin with such distain and how those with same sex attraction can be part of the Church according to scripture Matthew 19:12. The church will only marry a man and a women eunuch’s are born, made, or choose. The third choice is who we are speaking to when we discuss same sex attraction. In their relationship with Christ he will ask us to love another man or woman but not sin. This demonstrates the sufficiency of the Gospel. Christ is sufficient. We need to hold on to our “saltiness” and “Alien” status. Thanks for this great article.

  8. Chuck,
    The Bible says in the latter times that people will turn from the truth and receive teaching from demons…
    But also in 2 Timothy 3:5 says” having an appearance of godliness but denying its power, avoid such people”
    Andy Stanley, and the rest of them…the only way you will know if they are of Jesus and of the devil…know your Bible
    Read it in context, what they say, is it the whole counsel of God? Is it being taught or they picking out verses to make “their” point , even the devil did this with Jesus when He was tempted in the wilderness!! Also Jesus said this in Matt. 24, make sure no one deceives you…..lastly; I believe Mary made a point about love…
    Your correct about love, but not acceptance, ( see Romans 1:18-27 ) the Bible says that if you keep the whole law and stumble at one point of it…your guilty of breaking the entire law…God is Holy, pure love, pure justice, pure mercy and God did not send Jesus to the cross for some sins, For all sins…what do we do ??
    Pray, pray that God will draw them to Himself, and the light of Christ will shine upon their sin…
    God Bless

  9. Amen! great article and advice. We must stand true in these times with the Word. That is our truth and God is our Lord. I always tell the truth out of love to my friends that are living that lifestyle.

  10. Speaking Of “Culture”

    The “culture or war and conflict” among many of the governments of the nations needs to stop.
    It is Time Now for The Governments Of The Nations to spend money on their citizens to reduce hunger and proverty, instead of wasting money on war.

    “People, do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.” Proverbs 6:30.

    This ancient Biblical passage come to life in July 2019 when New York City police officers chose not to arrest a woman suspected of shoplifting at Whole Foods in Union Square and, instead, They paid for her food.
    This was not an isolated incident!
    Reference Link.

    The Time is Now for The United States governments, and other Governments of The Nations to implement forms of “Unconditional Basic Income” for all Their Citizens, and embrace a Culture of Kindness.

    1. Nathaniel,

      I think the discussion of UBI is interesting. I do have a question. What expectations should ‘the people’ (as the government of the US, at least, is of, by, and for the people) have for those that receive an (as you put it) *unconditional?*

      Typically, the *U* in UBI stands for “universal.” Based upon your use of “unconditional,” I assume that you do not want any conditions. So you would probably say that we should have no expectations for those receiving UBI. Is this the case?

      If you want to use Scripture (Proverbs 6:30), then should we not consider other scriptures when speaking of welfare? How about 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Or should we consider the welfare provisions of Leviticus 19 and 23? Should the poor and the stranger be expected to contribute or work for their provision? Additionally, where will the funds for a UBI come from, and what effect do we anticipate the infusion of such funds (if they are monetized by the government via inflation) will have on the value of money?

      I’m not sure that the answers to these questions are all that simple. But I would certainly be interested in your thoughts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *