Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598]


MR No. 1591—Counsel to Parents of a Wayward Son

(Written February 5, 1890, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Brother and Sister Lindsay. Portions of this letter appear in Child Guidance.)

Your letters I have read with interest and sympathy. I would say your son now needs a father as he has never needed one before. He has erred; you know it, and he knows that you know it, and words that you would have spoken to him in his innocency with safety and which would not have produced any bad results, would now seem like unkindness and be sharp as a knife. I am a mother of boys, and I know in this age, when the enemy of God and his workmanship is seeking to destroy the youth under his hellish banner, he will make every effort to lead them into temptation and into sin. Then they become desperate and discouraged as this sin is kept ever before them. 21MR 429.1

Some natures cannot bear censure. This is the case with yourself, my brother. Nothing will make your heart so heavy and you so completely shorn of your strength, whether you think you deserve it or not. If you do merit any reproof, then almost any movement in this direction seems to be construed by you to mean more than it truthfully does mean, and it makes you just as wretched and unhappy in supposing they reflect on you and mean to hurt you as if it were all verity and truth. 21MR 429.2

When our children fall into sin and everyone draws away from the misguided youth and would condemn him in an unsparing manner, should not the father and mother show a remarkable tenderness, not making sin appear the less grievous and abhorrent, but helping the inexperienced youth to recover himself? Should not your son who has erred be encouraged to consider that if he returns to his father, confessing his sin, he will be freely and fully pardoned and his disgrace covered with your own pitying love? I know that parents feel very keenly the shame of the wrongdoing of a child that has dishonored them, but does the erring one wound and bruise the heart of the earthly parent any more than we as the children of God bruise our heavenly Parent who has given us and is still giving us His love, inviting us to return and repent of our sins and iniquities and He will pardon our transgression? 21MR 429.3

Do not withdraw your love now. That love and sympathy is needed now as never before. When others look with coldness and put the worst construction upon the misdeeds of your boy, should not the father and mother in pitying tenderness seek to guide his footsteps into safe paths? I do not know the character of your son's sins, but I am safe in saying, Whatever they may be let no comments from human lips, no pressure from human actions, who think they are doing justice, lead you to pursue a course which can be interpreted by your son that you feel too much mortified and dishonored to ever take him back into confidence and to forget his transgressions. Let nothing cause you to lose hope, nothing to cut off your love and tenderness for the erring one. Just because he is erring he needs you, and he wants a father and a mother to help him to recover himself from the snare of Satan. Hold him fast by faith and love, and cling to the all-pitying Redeemer, remembering that he has one who has an interest in him, even above your own. 21MR 429.4

Jesus died to redeem him. He is the purchase of the blood of Christ. His soul is of value with God. If you can turn a sinner from the error of his ways, you have saved a soul from death. I know that many parents are in danger, through the shame and disappointment brought upon them by one of their children, to treat the erring one with greater severity than they would one who is not related to them, because then our heart has been bruised and wounded. But without Christ we are all liable to go astray, to do those things grievous in His sight, and this should make us kind and forgiving. 21MR 430.1

Justice has a twin sister that should ever stand by her side, which is Mercy and Love. I again say to you, Take this erring one to your heart of love, just as Christ takes His erring ones to His heart of infinite love. 21MR 430.2

My brother and sister, let us be like Jesus. Throw around your son the atmosphere of tenderness; now manifest your affection and your forgiveness, and this will do for him just what it would do for you—break down every barrier and melt your heart of stone. Hold your son in faith, grieved and disappointed and dishonored as you may feel. Save him, save him, save him from ruin! He needs you now, father and mother. I know you will not give him up to his deadly foe. 21MR 430.3

Do not talk discouragement and hopelessness. Talk courage. Tell him he can redeem himself, that you, his father and mother, will help him to take hold from above to plant his feet on the solid Rock, Christ Jesus, to find a sure support and unfailing strength in Jesus. If his fault be ever so grievous, it will not cure your son to press this constantly upon him. A right course of action is needed to save a soul from death and keep a soul from committing a multitude of sins. In your humiliation do not forget that Jesus knows it all, that His love is deep and unchangeable, that He pities our woes, He carries our sorrows, He is our Helper in whom we may trust. 21MR 430.4

Draw nigh to God as you never have before, for I know there is no sorrow, no grief, like that which a parent can feel for an erring child. But trust in God; be cheerful; do not appear as though the rays of the Sun of Righteousness no longer came to your hardened hearts. Look up to the mighty Healer. Look and live. 21MR 431.1

P.S. I have just received your letter and your son's letter. I deeply sympathize with you, his father and mother. But I feel the deepest interest for your son. I see nothing in your letter but the tenderest sympathy. Do not think I mean to wound you by censuring you, for I would not open a wound afresh.—Letter 18e, 1890. 21MR 431.2

Ellen G. White Estate

Silver Spring, Maryland,

May 9, 1991.

Entire Letter.