If we are Christian, then we certainly want and hope that our children will be Christian also. As a Christian we hope for salvation leading to an eternity with God’s blessing in heaven, in addition to the meaning in life Christian faith provides. Without Christ, Hell is the other destination, the Bible teaches. We want what’s best for us and our kids in life and in eternity.
But here’s the deal. In this day and age many children grow up in “Christian” families, only to abandon this pathway when they get out of school, as adults. Why does this happen so often?
A new study published in the Religion, Brain & Behavior Journal shows that IF parents love Jesus sincerely, and demonstrate that with the way they live their lives, their children will follow their example. On the other hand, if the parents are hypocrites (meaning they profess to be Christian, but it does not show in how they live their lives), children not only fail be become Christian, they are often drawn to atheism! This is becoming epidemic in our society.
The study included a gathering of 5,000 atheists, with them being asked: How old were you when you gave up on your parent’s religion, and how committed were your parents in their faith practice? The responses reinforced that insincere or unfaithfully practiced Christianity resulted in the children struggling and many abandoning the so-called faith of their parents.
Their conclusions were somewhat general in nature, there were exceptions, as is usually the case with people of free will. But the study definitely said that the religious behavior and practices of the parents have significant influence on the path their children take.
What can we learn from this? Certainly, that those who say “I don’t want to take my child to church or insist they do anything religious, so they can make their own choice” are only fooling themselves. The child looks for clues as to what they will and won’t accept in life, and by failing to expose them to your own beliefs you simply open them up to the beliefs of others who will influence them. At least make your beliefs part of the mix they will have to consider. Apathy on your part most likely will lead to apathy on their part, or else cause a reaction, with them seeking some tangent belief (or nonbelief).
The bottom line of this topic is: Parent, what do you truly believe? And, do you believe it enough to seriously put the tenets of your belief into practice? If not, YOU have a problem. That’s the heart of the thing. And unfortunately, your problem may become your child’s problem.
Proverbs 22:6 states a principle. It’s not full-proof, but it’s usually true. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when the person is old, they will not depart from it.” We live in a sinful and mixed-up world. Don’t make it worse for your children by not living out your beliefs or helping them prepare. Are you a Christian? Talk about it at home, pray openly, read the Bible, conform in a loving way, participate in the local assembly of Christians, and make it real for your kids.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but not works (does not live out his faith)? Can such faith save him (or have proper influence on his children)? So, faith by itself, without works (without truly following the Lord), is dead.” Jas. 2:14-17