Raising Rule Benders, Breakers, and Believers

Written by Janet Denison
Published on May 14, 2019

It’s hard to condemn the creativity.

Let’s admit it. There is something in each of us that admires a person who pushes the boundaries just a bit. As parents, we enjoy seeing our kids push their boundaries as well. We like independent, creative thinkers. We may not like the fact that our kids create an elaborate story about the dog running off with their homework, but we quietly enjoy the ins and outs of the storyline.

After all, no one goes through life without bending or breaking a rule every now and then. In fact, surprisingly, I want to talk about teaching our kids they will need to live outside some rules. The key is in understanding which rules need to be bent or broken and which to believe are boundaries.

Kids learn at an early age that everyone bends and breaks some rules. Yet, as parents, we tend to teach our kids that they shouldn’t. It’s a mixed message, and, as a result, we are leaving our kids with some choice-making confusion. The culture is making rules that Christians need to bend and break, and we need to help our kids be discerning with those rules.

We keep the rules we believe in.

The cultural trends are not favoring the Christian message these days. For example, I just read a very important article by John Stonestreet of the Colson Center about governmental rules and parental rights. I hope you will take the time to read it as well.

Your kids will need to break some of the world’s “rules” if they want to keep God’s. And that is the point of this article. How can you help your kids understand which rules to believe and use as their boundaries? Those are the rules we want them to keep.

What are the rules believers should believe?

I thought about laying out God’s top ten. The Ten Commandments are still the law, even though we often think of them as the “Ten Suggestions.” It has been said that every sin breaks one or more of those commandments. God’s top ten are still relevant today.

Our kids will absolutely be challenged by the culture to view God’s laws as a narrow message that needs to be “widened” in order to incorporate the message the culture values.

Some rules are made to be broken.

For thousands of years, the standard for a godly marriage was virginity until after vows. But, the last fifty or sixty years redefined that historical, biblical standard.

The rule for a sexual relationship became a “loving, committed” relationship between a man and a woman. Soon after, it was defined as a loving relationship between any two people. Now, for most, sex is something that may or may not require the third or fourth date or a partner of the opposite sex. The cultural rules regarding an acceptable marriage relationship have completely changed over the past fifty years.

Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Do your kids believe God’s law for the marriage relationship? Do they understand that the sexual relationship is a marriage relationship? God didn’t change his standard, but our culture has. Will our kids choose to break the culture’s rules in order to keep God’s?

Someday your child might need to break office rules in order to share their faith with a coworker. Your children might need to choose God’s laws for kindness and compassion instead of seeking popularity or success. Your child might need to fail a college class if they are required to believe what the professor is teaching. Your children might need to vote for their faith instead of their favorites.

Will our kids believe God’s laws are more important? They will need to believe God’s laws in order to break or bend the cultural standards.

How do you teach your kids to be rule breakers?

It does seem counterintuitive for parenting. But Jesus is our example. He picked grain on the Sabbath. He ate with the “sinners.” He allowed costly perfume to be poured on his feet by a questionable woman. He overthrew the money changers in the temple. He broke and bent the cultural rules in order to follow and teach God’s laws instead.

How will your kids know when a rule is worth breaking?

God will need to guide them with his word, through his Holy Spirit. They can “give to Caesar” what belongs to him, but they will also need to give to God what belongs to God.

Your kids will have to break some of the culture’s rules in order to follow God’s.

Does it really matter, or can we just trust God’s grace and forgiveness?

Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). If our kids base their choices on the rules our culture has established, they will live without many of God’s blessings. Our kids might have God’s forgiveness but miss his favor. That might be their most important choice in the days ahead.

Breaking God’s laws means loss of blessing. Breaking the culture’s rules in honor of God’s will mean his blessings and favor.

Raise rule breakers.

Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). When we need to break a few of the world’s rules in order to walk with Jesus, we should.  

Will you help your kids become rule breakers?

If so, you’ll have some interesting conversations ahead!



Watch this video to hear Lee Nienhuis walk us through 3 steps to guide our children to a character comeback. Join us as we learn to forgo emotions, pray, and guide our children to repentance after a character misstep.

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Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at Foundationswithjanet.org and often at ChristianParenting.org.

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