From my friend William P. Farley’s latest book, Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting (P&R, 2009):
“Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a Scotch Presbyterian, wrote a famous essay entitled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. In it Chalmers proposes that the best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2:3). A man who owns an Acura is not interested in a Geo Metro. In the same way, Christian parents try to make Christ and his kingdom glorious. Their children conquer the lusts of this world with a higher passion: the moral beauty of Christ.
By contrast, defensive parents have little confidence in the attractiveness of the gospel. They think the world is more powerful. Fundamentally, they are not confident in the gospel’s power to transform their children from the inside out. They do not believe Jesus’ words, ‘Take heart; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). They have little confidence in the world-conquering power of new birth.
My wife and I have seen the fruit of this approach in our own experience. My five children all attended public high schools, and then the eldest four matriculated to a state university. Despite the raunchy non-Christian—even anti-Christian—environment (and it was foul), they thrived spiritually. Why? Through the miracle of new birth, God changed their hearts. To them the Holy Spirit had begun to unveil the superlative value of Jesus Christ. The conviction that all their happiness was tied up in their relationship with Christ had begun to bud and grow. The world’s allurements could not compete.” [pp. 24—25]