by Matt Slick
Some people might not think that parenting is a part of apologetics, but it is. Christian parents have a great deal of influence in what their children think about the Lord. After all, isn't the goal of Christian parents to bring their children up in the ways of the Lord (Prov. 22:6) so that they will serve God and glorify Him?
Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. The parents live that faith in their homes and are a real example of its defense. How? The parents are the ones who govern the home, urge the children to trust in Christ, and exemplify Christian attitudes and practice. All of this is living the faith, and it is a profound statement of its validity--or invalidity, depending on how the parents live out what they say they profess. If they confess Christ with their lips and live lives that are unsanctified and speak words that are unholy, then what are they teaching their children about the power of the gospel? Are they making a strong and able defense of the faith, or are they really undermining it by their actions and deeds?
On the other hand, if parents confess Christ and live godly, humble, sanctified lives before their children, then they are demonstrating the truth of Christianity in the harmony and consistency of their words and deeds. This is most important and profound not only because it is what we are all called to do as Christians but also because of the great benefit it has on the children in relation to their developing faith in Christ. Example is often greater than words in power.
After dinner in our home, we regularly have devotions. I get the Bible and set it before me at the head of the table. My children all know to become quiet and attentive. I then ask each one various questions about who Jesus is, what He has done, what the Bible is, what it is about, etc. The questions are age-appropriate.Then, after a brief discussion, I read a chapter out of the Bible. Sometimes we talk about it, and other times we don't--depending on the topic, interest, etc. I then pray and dinner is over. My children are exposed to the Word of God on a regular basis by the head of the family, and they hear and see it take the place of preeminence in our home. Furthermore, our children know that there is a right and wrong because they hear it from the Bible. They know that my wife and I are subject to the Lord and to His Word. They see that we are seeking to guide them in the ways of the Lord.
However, some say that we shouldn't push our children towards believing in Christ and that we should let them make their own decisions about Christianity when they get older. What do you think?
Two men were discussing the raising of children. The first man said that they were free will creatures and should not be constrained by the prejudices of the parents in spiritual matters but that they should be allowed to grow on their own and make their own decisions about God. The second man said nothing about this, but instead asked, "Would you like to see my garden?" The first man, surprised by the change in subject, said, "Yes, I would." They went outside, and the second man pointed to a small plot of ground where weeds and crab grass were growing. "Here it is," he said. "This is my garden." The first looked at the second man, confused, and said, "My friend. This is no garden. It is a thicket of weeds." The second man said, "Yes, I know. I allowed this garden to grow on its own without any direction and guidance."
Our natures are selfish and sinful. The job of the parents is to direct and guide the lives of our children so that they develop into fine godly adults. Left to their own direction and desires, how many children would choose the higher way? How many would seek to be humble, loving, kind, sharing, and patient because it is right? How many of them would naturally seek to subject themselves to the Lordship of Jesus? We parents have to constantly train our children in virtues and constantly train them to submit to the Lord. We do not have to train them to be selfish, mean, and complaining. How much more should we as parents be guiding our children in the ways of the Lord, living and exemplifying the truth of Christianity in our homes so that we don't undermine the truth of the gospel in the very hearts of those whom God has given to us to raise?
Your home is your first ministry, and your children are great gifts from God. Do not take that responsibility lightly. God will require an accounting from you regarding your children. What will you tell Him?