Forcing Religion on Your Children

“Are you faced with the accusation that you ‘force your religion on your children’? The first thing to do is ask the critic to clearly explain what he means by ‘forcing or imposing a belief or religion’ on others…”
~Frank Grau

Forcing_ReligionThe assertion of forcing religion on our children is continually brought to our attention. We are often accused of pushing our beliefs and ‘brainwashing’ them with our faith. Today, the Lord put upon my heart the need to share this thoughtful article my husband wrote several years ago addressing just this issue:

Forcing Religion on Your Children

As you prepare to wade into the coming learning year, may his words offer comfort and encouragement. May the Lord show us what He wants of our learning year, our families, and our parenting. And, may we be faithful to follow His call. No matter the opposition.

“Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~Proverbs 22:6

📣 Chime In!: Does your learning curriculum include Bible, or do you teach directly from the Word?

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22 thoughts on “Forcing Religion on Your Children

  1. Love this! I don’t get this so much as that I’m trying to “protect my children from the world forever” but it’s kind of in the same vein- apparently, forming our (often very young) children and deciding who and what gets to influence them is not okay for parents do do.

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  2. Pingback: Haters Gonna Hate | The Agony and the Ecstasy

  3. Yes, we are faced with this quite often from my brother-in-law. He always says that we are indoctrinating our children, when in fact, he doesn’t realize that although he doesn’t believe in God, he is also indoctrinated by what he believes in (the Big Bang Theory). This year I will be teaching straight from the Word, starting in Genesis. 🙂

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  4. I don’t home school, but wrestle how to balance my views and how to gracefully lead to God for my son. ❤️ Faithfulwalkinprogress.wordpress.com

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  5. We teach straight from the Bible, and we use the Westminster Confession, and Catechism .

    I agree with HisCreation I don’t think the people who accuse us of forcing religion on our children realize that you will pass your worldview onto them regardless.

    For example if you believe that all is matter your children are going to learn that even if you don’t set aside a time to explain it to them.

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  6. As children grow we teach or if you wish indoctrinate them but they do become independent human beings and have to decide for themselves.
    That is why your Bible quote is wrong for many reject what their parents teach and what they are taught at school or college.
    Richard Dawkins thinks no fairy tales of any sort should be enjoyed by children incase they believe them. Well that does not say much for children. If we attempt to cocoon children from the world we are not serving them well for sooner or later they must face reality.

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    • “That is why your Bible quote is wrong for many reject what their parents teach and what they are taught at school or college.”

      The quote was from Proverbs, and anyone who studies the Bible knows there are distinctions between the literary genres, namely, there are histories, prophecies, poetry, and wisdom literature. Proverbs is a book of wisdom literature and many of its teachings are not meant to indicate universal laws or prophetic promises of any kind. They consist mostly of wise teachings that, in general, conform to real life circumstances. When Proverbs says that the borrower will be servant to the lender, the point is not that the borrower need be viewed as a personal servant or slave; the point is that the “borrower” will have to labor and toil until the debt is repaid, and guess what? Nine times out of ten that will indeed be the case. So offering an exception to what is generally true doesn’t undermine the proverb. In like manner, children who are wisely raised in the truth will likely return to it when they mature, even if it sometimes occurs that a parent’s teachings is undermined by a state school and/or secular culture, though allowing the state school and MTV to indoctrinate one’s child may not really have been following the instruction to “teach a child in the way he should go” in the first place.

      “If we attempt to cocoon children from the world we are not serving them well for sooner or later they must face reality.”

      That’s a very common criticism heard, but it really hinges on what one means by an “attempt to cocoon children”. You see, every single parent (unless he is a delinquent parent) “cocoons” his child. The only difference is that each parent draws the line at a different place. I suspect most parents (if we’re honest) think that other parents who draw the line much sooner than we do are overprotective, while those parents who draw the line much later are overindulgent.

      More importantly, your sentiment is a non sequitur. How does facing reality later in life present any reason to avoid sheltering one’s child from evil or danger when they are young? Of course children will have to grow to face reality. Therefore what? Therefore they should be allowed to experience all the evil the world has to offer? Do you let your children watch snuff films or pornography? Will exposing them to that serve them well later in life? The fact is, we protect children from evil so that they do not become desensitized to it while they are too immature to render proper moral judgements. When children are overexposed to evil, they become used to it and begin to believe that it’s normal. That’s why secularists work so hard to introduce evil to children at a young age. Overexpose children to perverse behavior soon enough and they’ll grow to believe it’s perfectly normal behavior. Earlier you observed that some children do not follow their parent’s teaching. Has it ever occurred to you that some children reject Biblical truth because their parents failed to cocoon them sufficiently when they were still young and impressionable? Food for thought.

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      • It’s a fair point about proverbs but my excuse is I’m a layman when it comes to theology. It does seem to me many Christians decide what is a universal law and what isn’t. I notice you include the word ‘wisely’ and ‘ will likely ‘ surely these are an admission that upbringing is not always paramount. You are correct the word cocoon needs interpretation and we all have our own view on that. I included it as a warning not to be over protective as I feel most evangelical Christians err on that side.
        The rules for bringing up children have changed beyond recognition since the days of Dr Spock but a great breakthrough was seen when Lord of the Flies was published. At last Children were not viewed as totally innocent creatures a view that would tie in perfectly with the concept of original sin. Incidentally I’m a retired old man (75) with four children who have long since flown the nest. Biblical truth is relative as to who is interpreting , and there are as many interpretations as denominations.

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      • “It does seem to me many Christians decide what is a universal law and what isn’t.”

        Yes, many do, but even for those who do take the proverb in question to be a divine promise rather than divine wisdom, one has to ask how that alters the wisdom of following the instruction given in the proverb.

        “I included it as a warning not to be over protective as I feel most evangelical Christians err on that side.”

        Again, what one views as “overprotective” will depend on where one chooses to draw the line for one’s child. If one is more indulgent with one’s child, one will find others overprotective. If one is more protective, one will view others as being too indulgent.

        “At last Children were not viewed as totally innocent creatures a view that would tie in perfectly with the concept of original sin.”

        Lord Of the Flies was a great lesson in human nature, however, subsequent bad behavior doesn’t alter the original innocence of children at birth. For example, while we’re all capable of breaking the law, that doesn’t render us guilty prior to actually breaking the law. In other words, while a child may be born with the proclivity to sin, that doesn’t mean he is guilty of any sin until he actually commits sin.

        “Biblical truth is relative as to who is interpreting”

        That’s like saying that the sum of 2+2 is relative to the person answering the question. Simply because children taking a math test may give various answers doesn’t alter the objective truth of the answer. So while there are certainly relative beliefs about the meaning of any particular scripture passage, those differing beliefs provide no ground for thinking that the text has no fixed, objective meaning, nor are the errors of some ground for believing that none can have a correct understanding of the meaning which God intended to convey.

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      • A good reply point by point , you make your case very well. You cannot compare Biblical accuracy to mathematical logic even our secular laws are not black and white in that way. I understand that you are convinced the Bible is bedrock truth and that is where we differ but remember every interpreter believes they have the correct understanding. I wish well in all your efforts bringing up your children I know from experience it is a long and difficult task.

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      • “You cannot compare Biblical accuracy to mathematical logic”

        If, by “accuracy”, you’re suggesting God has no fixed meaning to convey, it’s not at all clear why one would accept such a premiss. If God’s message has no objective meaning (ontology), then what good is it? Why did He offer it?

        If, on the other hand, you’re using “accuracy” to refer to our understanding of the text (epistemology), one has to ask why would God communicate something if its truth can’t be known?

        Now I’ll grant that, where mutually exclusive interpretations exist, all such interpretations cannot be equally correct where they contradict one another. But simply because contradictory propositions cannot all be equally true, it doesn’t logically follow that all are false. For example, if one person claimed that I was a four-feet tall, and another claimed I was seven feet tall, and another claimed I was 5’8”, while their claims cannot all be equally true, it doesn’t logically follow that all are wrong. One of them would, in this case, be correct. The point is, mathematical propositions have no more corner on objective truth than any other categorical propositions. A categorical proposition, regardless of its subject, is either true or it is false (unless it commits a category fallacy, in which case the proposition itself is flawed or nonsensical).

        “even our secular laws are not black and white in that way”

        The issue wasn’t about laws. It was about whether we can have accurate knowledge of what God wanted to communicate to us in His word. I’m not suggesting that we always know His will, nor that we always get it right. What I’m arguing is that His word has objective meaning and, if He gave it to us, then He will make provision for us to understand it. When and if we fail, they failure is ours and has nothing to do with the knowability of His word. Men are fallible. God’s word isn’t.

        “I understand that you are convinced the Bible is bedrock truth and that is where we differ”

        If the Bible were not true, then how anyone interprets it becomes a moot point.

        “every interpreter believes they have the correct understanding.”

        Again, simply because some may have a wrong understanding, it doesn’t logically follow that all have a wrong understanding. Certainly some things in scripture are difficult to understand, and one should have enough humility regarding those difficult issues to allow for differences of understanding. Where the scriptures are clear, however, it’s the Christian’s duty to offer an apologetic response with meekness and respect.

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      • I must cross you off my list of debators you are certainly very slick I suspect you have had some training. Let me play my rather poor cards on the table I’m a layman and self educated so my knowledge is full of holes. I’m mostly acquainted with the new testament with rather patchy knowledge of the old. When I retired at sixty one I decided to take myself in hand and learn some of the things I had missed through lack of schooling. I commend you for your strong faith and hope life treats you and yours well in the future.

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    • You’re not alone. A lot of us hated things about our childhood which, later in life, we were able to better understand. Thankfully, as we matured we were able to make distinctions between our childhood experiences and the truth of the gospel. Bad experiences with the former do not invalidate the latter.

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your experience with us. -fg

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