Before this faithfulness [of Jesus] arrived, we were kept under guard by the law, in close confinement until the coming faithfulness should be revealed. Thus the law was like a babysitter for us, looking after us until the coming of the Messiah, so that we might be given covenant membership on the basis of faithfulness. But now that faithfulness has come, we are no longer under the rule of the babysitter. (3:23-25)
I had many a babysitter growing up.
There was Debbie from down the street. She introduced me to Deborah Harry (aka Blondie) right at the height of the punk rock rage. Then it was Debbie’s sister and several teenage girls from church. After that, being five and seven years older than my brothers, I became the babysitter. I remember the time, though, I thought I was too cool to babysit my brothers, so my parents got one of my classmates named Renee to babysit. I was told that if I were too cool to babysit, then I was also too cool to stay in the house while they were away. I was exiled to the nearby park. There was also the summer we had a procession of “nannies,” all college girls from the local Baptist church. The most memorable of those was the one who was visiting from Zimbabwe for the summer. She made us hotdogs one day and buttered the buns. Didn’t toast them or anything. Just butter right up on the hotdog. Okay.
Babysitters are great . . . for a time. But it would be kind of weird, however, having a babysitter when you are 32. When your children are approaching the teen years you kind of get a sense that if they need a babysitter still, they might be a bit behind the curve. There is a time for the babysitting to stop.
When maturity comes, parents have faith in their children. Faith too in their parenting. They trust that the growing child has the inner guidance to go the right way themselves. Once you have experienced the freedom of adulthood, you don’t need a babysitter anymore.