“How can we save our children from the world?” a mother once asked me. “How can we save them from drugs and alcohol? Even if we are keeping them in church, the outside influence of the world seems too strong.”
Such a question is somewhat reminiscent of the pity parties that usually arise when Proverbs 22:6 is cited in a Bible class. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it,” the Proverbs author writes. “But that’s not a hard-fast rule,” a parent with an unfaithful grown child will quickly respond. Another will chime in, “It’s only a general rule.” Yet another will say, “In reality, raising children is a gamble. There’s no way you can ever know how your child will turn out. It doesn’t matter how often you bring them to church. They’ll probably just leave when they grow up.” And almost like clockwork, the parents with apostate children water down Proverbs 22:6 until it means nothing at all.
Again, the mother asks, “How can we save our children from the world?”
Is the task really that hopeless?
No, I don’t believe it is. That is, if you are diligently trying to raise them “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
I would argue, however, that the odds of your children not leaving the Lord’s Church are slim to none if the following list characterizes your home:
- You speak negatively about the Lord’s church in front of them (even if it is infrequently).
- You don’t care what movies they go watch with their friends.
- You’re not 100% faithful in your family’s church attendance.
- You have no problem with ‘social’ drinking.
- You allow them to watch whatever they want on T.V., whenever they want.
- Your mindset about filthy language is, “They’re going to hear bad language wherever they go, so what difference does it make if we let them hear it on T.V.?”
- You think it is the church’s primary responsibility – not yours – to teach your children about the Bible.
- You are raising them in a broken home.
- You’re not protecting your marriage.
- You have no qualms with them attending prom or going to parties (you know the kind I’m talking about) at their school friend’s houses.
- You don’t monitor their social media behavior and exposure.
- You allow them to be exposed to pornography.
- You’re not spending quality time with them.
I sympathize with parents whose children have left the church. I can’t think of any feeling that would be worse than knowing that I have a child who is living outside of Christ. But if parents are guilty of any of the above points, they can’t claim complete innocence in the loss of their child’s soul.
“How can we save our children from the world?” Perhaps we should answer the question honestly: by raising them right. If Proverbs 22:6 means anything at all (which I think it does), then perhaps the level of our children’s faithfulness to Christ really is influenced by how we raise them.
The Barna Group estimates that 59% of Millennials are leaving their respective churches. I’d say it is higher for the Lord’s church. When I look at the uncommitted Christian homes in which many of our young people are being raised, I think, “No wonder they’re leaving. If I was raised the way they were, I’d probably leave too.”
Parents, if you love your children at all, make their spiritual welfare the #1 priority. Who is in a better position to bring them to heaven than you? Don’t take this responsibility lightly.