No, Mom, Cleanliness is NOT Next to Godliness
By Sylvia Cochran, Christian Parenting –
There is this mistaken belief in Christian and non-Christian households that somewhere in the Bible it says that cleanliness is next to godliness. In fact, this little saying is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures. While it is true that there are plenty of scriptures addressing order, some Christian parents have taken their search for cleanliness to an extreme that could be harmful to the kids they are raising.
Messy Parenting: Doing it Right
Making a mess is part of life and particularly part of parenting. Paint, play dough and glitter are messy. Don’t get me started on sand, water play, Lincoln Logs and Legos. For children to get comfortable with expressing themselves, they need to be allowed to make a mess. This does not mean that your dining room or family room should look like a bomb exploded in a paper factory.
Instead, find a place in your home where making a mess is okay. Maybe your children have an area in their rooms that you could wallpaper with easy-to-clean covering and where you might place a rug that you can put in the washing machine. Or perhaps you could find a corner in the living room where you can hang an attractive shower curtain behind which the children may have a table to do their messy artwork and design.
Cleanup should be a joint venture. Depending on the age of the kids, they should help or take the lead in vacuuming up the stray glitter, sweeping up the Legos and washing down the table after play dough use.
What Does the Bible Say About Cleanliness?
Being clean, in the Old Testament, referred to a lifestyle that was in keeping with the commands that God had given the Israelites. It covered everything from washing hands to avoiding certain foods. In the New Testament, the emphasis goes from ritual cleanliness to an inner purity. Matthew 23:25-28 speaks of those who observe an external adherence to cleaning rituals without purifying their hearts. It compares them to whitewashed tombs that look pretty on the outside but are filthy on the inside.
What Does This Have to Do With a Home’s Cleanliness? Everything!
Far too often, Christians judge other Christians by the neat appearance of their homes. Someone whose furniture is dusted, floors are clear of small toys and children are free from glitter are judged to be capable of leadership and intrinsically more spiritual than the those whose drawers show Nutella fingerprints, whose floors come with dried play dough crumbs and whose dining room floor is covered with Lincoln Logs.
The point is, guard yourself against using the Bible as a whip to justify your prejudice against others and your own harshness against yourself and your children. Instead, consider the scriptures that warn against exasperating children or causing them to sin. If you are so focused on cleanliness that your children are afraid to be kids and use their toys, you are not following the Bible.
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