I have decided. I’m going to let my kids decide whether they want religion in their lives. My children's choice of religion is like all of the other unimportant things I will let them decide on their own. They can decide their favorite sports team, their favorite foods, their favorite music, their favorite television shows, their favorite websites, and, now, their favorite religion or lack thereof. Maybe I’ll even let them decide how much video game time they can have, what foods they will eat, and what their bedtime will be.
Now, when it comes to important things like whether they are going to learn math, English and reading, be respectful to others, develop a good work ethic, chew with their mouth closed, etc., I am going to guide them. But on little things like their religion, that is up to them to decide whether they want to follow Jesus or not without any encouragement or influence from me. I don't want to cram religion down their throats.
In all seriousness, there is a huge difference between listening to our children, validating their concerns, and including them on decisions compared to letting them run things while pretending they are old enough to make the important decisions in life.
There will come a day when they will make all of their own decisions. Until then, we must realize that God has placed our children in our care for a reason. For starters, having children shows us the great love that God has for us combined with his grace and patience. A grace and patience that we also have to reflect to our children if we want them to grow up with the skills ready to achieve their dreams in the world. Dreams, mind you, that we nurture and develop in them when we help them come up with a worldview that will guide them toward what we believe is the best life to live.
Some day, when they have the wisdom and strength to live on their own, they will know the purpose of living if we have taught them what that is. We must realize that if we don’t teach them the purpose of living, someone else gladly will. The television shows they watch will. The video games they play will. Their friends will. The music will. Other adults will. Everyone else will gladly do the task we are tempted to neglect. Society will gladly take the opportunity of shaping our children's thinking if we choose to opt out of it.
Now we might say that it is better for them to learn on their own. But we don’t really hold to that view when it comes to things that we truly believe are important. We want them to have the skills and work ethic to succeed in life. And religion helps us define what godly success looks like. In the important things, we are quick to encourage and steer them in the right direction.
Wouldn’t it be irresponsible of us to just let them develop their worldview on their own? I guess I am a product of the faith I believe in. In the Bible, we have a God who cares about humanity so much that we see him interact with humanity to help us live the best life possible. He went so far as to even become a human himself to show us how to live.
Paul wrote, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).
It’s this worldview that God has given to me that I want to pass down to my children. Being a servant to others and self-sacrifice are not traits that the world encourages, but it is at the core of the message of who Jesus is. It should be at the core of who we - people who claim to follow Jesus - are.
If you believe in God and that the life he wants us to live is the best life for us to live, why would you not want to pass that down to your children?
Do we really believe?