When Parents Fail toTransfer their Faith
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
“And there arose another generation that did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” Judges 2:10
Recently, I had a conversation with one of the men in the small group I lead at my local church. We were talking about how things like morality and education have changed so dramatically and rapidly in the United States. He can see the severe impact it’s had in the next generation, especially on the formation of his grandkids. This man came from Cuba at the age of 12 and is now in his 60’s. He remembers the Ten Commandments being displayed at the top of the chalkboard and how activities like prayer (which coming from Cuba, were a big cultural shock to him) were the norm of the day.
That same week, my wife and I were having a similar conversation with a friend. She also emigrated from Cuba with her three young daughters. We were talking about secularism in the US school system. As a Christian mom, she worries about some of the behaviors she sees in the peers of her children. However, having been raised in a society that banned Christianity, admittingly she couldn’t really grasp how the Christian values and principles (which were once a staple of her new country of residence) have been systematically replaced with a more humanistic and morally relative perspective. This reality has prompted her to take charge of her daughter’s spiritual formation at home.
Just like my friend from my men’s group, I remember growing up in Puerto Rico, where (not that long ago, I like to think) even those that weren’t Christians respected and even valued Christian principles. I even know friends whose parents weren’t practicing Christians yet enrolled their children in Christian schools because they agreed with said values and principles. Even more, I remember how “Burbujita” taught the importance of praying to God before going to bed on NATIONAL TV, EVERYDAY!
Unfortunately, for people like my friend who just immigrated from a communist country, this level of openness and acceptance of Christian values is alien to her. There is another group of people who will grow up alienated from God if we don’t do something quickly… that group is our children.
A Generation That Doesn’t Know The Lord
In the first chapter of the book of Judges, we can read about how Joshua’s generation was faithful to God until they all died (this was the generation that saw God’s great deliverance from Egypt, through the desert, and into the promised land). However, in chapter 2, after they all died, it says, “And there arose another generation that did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (v.10, ESV).
The Underlying Issue: The Parents Failed to Transfer Their Faith
Who failed them? Society? The education system? Their new culture? NO. The problem is that the parents who knew God dropped the ball. Notice how after the passing of the generation who saw God’s mighty power in display with their very own eyes, another one arose without knowledge of the God of their parents. I asked myself, “How can these parents not tell their kids about the great things the Lord has done for them? How can they not teach them the commandments God had instructed (Deut. 6) them to pass on?”. Possibly, we can argue in their favor, they were just too busy or too tired. After all, these people were fighting their enemies and conquering the land.
A familiar excuse: As I read out loud my own thoughts I can see how I’ve also been guilty of dropping the ball. As a parent I can think of many excuses not to spend the time and energy this requires to sit down with my kids to teach them these things. Whether it is because I’m tired, busy with work, or feel unqualified, excuses abound. Our world is filled with distractions and responsibilities. We do need to take care of their physical needs, yet we need to also feed their souls with the word of God which is the eternal part of their existence.
What Was The Outcome? CHAOS
In Judges 17:6 and 21:25, we see the consequences crossed the aisles of religious traditions and philosophical arguments. We read that everybody was doing what was right in their own eyes. Were happiness and self-fulfillment the result? To the contrary, we read about a people who were not just in existential distress but that were oppressed, sick, immoral, self-destructive and lost. Having no knowledge of God nor his commandments, the generation after Joshua’s had no clear compass of how to prosper and succeed in their world. A world that influenced them to go in the opposite direction and into an abyss.
Any similarity to today’s society IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. Our young generations are masking their confusion, which we as parents have passed on, by not giving them clear instructions on how to live and honor God’s standards. Beware! It’s not about legalism nor mere tradition. That has been proven not to work. In fact, it can even drive children away. It’s about teaching and modeling to our children to love God and others by honoring godly standards. Scripture is the best parenting tool we have to help guide them to be prosperous and successful (Josh. 1:8).
Yes, God is being taken out deliberately and systematically. In the past, you could count on the support from neighbors and school teachers because everyone was following the same guidelines. This definitely makes it harder to raise godly children in our current culture, yet as we learn from the Israelites, the issue lies far closer than the schools - it lies at home. And the answer is NOT the Church either (although it plays an important and necessary role). Nor does it lie in homeschooling. It’s at home where kids are supposed to be growing under a kingdom atmosphere, where Jesus Christ is being not only taught formally through Bible study but also through modeling. This is especially important while children are really young since they learn more from what they see you doing than from what you tell them to do. It isn’t enough to recognize and complain about our culture’s demise. If you want change, it’s in our hands. If we raise enough children that bear God’s image, we can fill the Earth with his presence as he intended (Gen. 1:26-28).
Possible silver lining
What I belief we have in our children is a generation primed for a revival. Ironically, not being able to rely on the system or others in society for our children’s spiritual formation, has primed our homes and society for another Great Awakening. For that to happen though, Christian parents must recognize that the responsibility of instructing their children in the ways of the Lord is mine and it’s yours.
Ask Yourself: What foundation am I pouring into my kids? Who have I delegated it the discipleship of my children to? The church, another family member, school, tv
Take away: Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual formation.