If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want you to raise them in strict accordance with law rather than gospel, with strict rules rather than free grace. He would want parents to physically discipline them, then abandon them in their pain and misery, wondering how they can once again earn their parents’ favor. He would never want the consequences of their sin to lead to a discussion of the gift of God’s forgiving grace through Christ.
Some time ago I read an advice column that responded to a woman who had become disillusioned with her husband and enamored with someone else. And as I read it I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how Satan would counsel if he was asked.” That got me thinking about how Satan might function as a marriage counselor and also how he might function as a parenting expert. To that end…
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would insist that children are primarily a lifestyle choice, a kind of accessory to life some people may choose and others may reject according to their own desires. He would insist that there is no intrinsic good in having children and that God doesn’t much care whether married couples choose to have them or not. He would want them to shrug off as quaint or antiquated the passages in Scripture that say things like “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3) or the Creation Mandate that says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). “It doesn’t matter what God wants,” he would say. “What matters is what you want.”
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want people who have children to feel superior to those who want to but cannot. He would want those who are unable to have children to feel that God must somehow be opposed to them or be punishing them and want them to believe that they are missing out on something essential to the good and God-honoring life. He would want such people to feel miserable while others held them as objects of pity or divine disfavor.
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want people to regard children as mostly a bother, as a choice that tends to hamper happiness as much as it enhances or amplifies it. He would want parents to think more of the financial cost, the cost to a free and affluent lifestyle, or the cost to vocational progress. He would want couples to dread children even more than they desire them.
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want parents who don’t regard children as a bother to regard them as the whole point and purpose of life, to treat them like little gods. He would want parents to form their entire identity around their children and to be held idolatrously captive to them.
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would be sure to tell his readers that the world’s population is a problem, and that the earth is suffering because of the number of human beings who inhabit it. Therefore, humanity ought to do its best to suppress the birthrate, and to have smaller families rather than larger ones. He would want people to hesitate to have children at all and to feel a sense of guilt and remorse should they choose to have them. “The most responsible people choose not to procreate,” he would say. “You need to think about this faltering planet.”
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want parents to believe that there is no great benefit to raising children in the context of a family, much less a traditional family made up of one man married to one woman, covenantally bound together for life. He would insist that children can be equally conceived and birthed in any number of ways, to any combination of people, for any given reason.
If Satan wrote a book on parenting, he would want parents to think that a genetic link between parents and their children is so important that they should not even consider adopting children. He would want them to regard biological children as intrinsically superior to adopted children. He would love to hear people express that adoption is too dangerous, too uncertain, and too disruptive to even consider.