When I first entered the ministry many years ago, I began as a part-time youth minister in a Baptist church near the seminary I was attending. Having been a high school teacher, I wanted to stay in touch with young people. Youth ministry would give me the opportunity to have an impact on the adults of tomorrow.
Part of my ministry involved going to the youths’ homes and visiting with their families. I would try to encourage them to be a part of our church’s youth activities. I met with passive resistance from the parents at times. Even then our society was moving toward political correctness and tolerance. So many parents felt it noble to say something like, “I don’t believe in forcing my religion on my children. When they are old enough, I will let them decide which religion they want to follow.” They may have thought it noble, but it simply let them off the hook for their children’s moral and religious development. And that way they did not have to take their kids to church on Sundays.
As a high school teacher I taught Spanish, English as a Second Language and Physical Science. Part of my training included studying linguistic development and language learning. Imagine applying such a tolerant philosophy to language learning. Suppose I went to a parent’s home where the adolescent children did not know how to speak any language. Then the parent said to me, “I don’t believe in forcing my own language on my children. When they are old enough, I will let them decide what language they want to speak.” By that time, they will have lost the ability to grasp language quickly and easily as anyone who has tried to learn a second language can attest. It is more difficult at adolescence to pick up a language that an infant can readily pick up.
If a parent does not impress his or her religious and moral values on the children, someone else will. Children will pick up their values from the world around them or from friends whether well-meaning or not. Parents are to take responsibility for the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
God gave the responsibility to the parents for the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Too many today have abdicated their responsibility. They have turned it over to the public schools or maybe even the church to teach morals to children. So why do you speak the language you speak? Obviously because your parents spoke to you in that language.
Parents, if you want your children to learn morals and religion, take an active role in that development. Take them to church, do not just send them. Speak about religious values at home. Show them how you live out those principles and convictions. Find a church home and get involved.
Mike McGuire is the pastor of Belvue Baptist Church. There is a place for you where the SON always shines.