We all want to know about Christian parenting. We would all like to know how to keep our children from jumping ship and going to the world.
Today, I heard a speech by Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, who blames belief in modern scientific evidence for things like evolution as the reason why children jump ship. It’s “doubts about the Bible,” he says, that cause children to fall away from the faith.
“Why did these people leave the church? They didn’t trust the Bible, they weren’t taught to trust the Bible, they weren’t taught it was a book of history, and they weren’t taught to defend their faith and to have answers for the secular attacks.”
I have six children. I realized evolution is trueâ€”that humans and all of life evolved from one or a few common ancestorsâ€”in 1995. My oldest child was 4 at the time.
I’ve told them since then that I believe in evolution. I conducted a class for high schoolers on the evolution-creation debate, allowing the children–who all knew which side I was on–to research the subject for themselves. 10 out of 11 walked away confident that evolution was true.
Most of those high schoolers are walking with God as adults today. By this, I don’t mean that they pray, read their Bible, and attend the church. I mean that they are avidly walking with God, seeking his will, and wanting to bring the Gospel to the world.
My three teenage sons love God and are respected young men. My fourth child, a daughter, is just coming into her teen years, and she is following in her brothers’ footsteps.
I have taught them to treat evidence honestly. I have taught them that the Bible is not a book of science, and that the history of Genesis one–at least–is not literal. I have taught them that there could not have been a worldwide flood.
Not one of those young people or my children has fallen away because of knowing I believe those things or because of adopting those things themselves.
Why should they fall away? I believe those things, and I gave up pursuing the world in order to build God’s kingdom. I love and serve the people around me because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, not because it’s just my habit or nature inherited from evolutionary ancestors.
In fact, I’ve taught my children to look for the fingerprint of God everywhere. I’ve taught them not to miss the work of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God in themselves or other people, and they are wholeheartedly devoting themselves to that pursuit.
They’ve managed to do all this without believing that the Bible is a book of science.
What Really Makes Kids Jump Ship
Michael Pearl has written an incredible book called Jumping Ship. It talks about the real reason children quit believing that they ought to live for Jesus Christ.
The primary reason is because you don’t.
Living for Christ is a spiritual thing to do. It doesn’t matter whether you think Genesis is literal or figurative. It doesn’t matter even whether you believe the Bible is inspired.
What matters is whether you think Jesus Christ is worth obeying and you obtain the spiritual power from him to do so.
That, my friends, is everything.
There are other things that affect whether your children grow up into faith. I don’t want to insult some good, godly Christian parents that have seen their children snatched into the world. Your parenting, the influence of society or an unbelieving spouse, and numerous other issues can cause your children to jump ship.
Doubts about a literal Bible will, however, never cause children to stop following Jesus Christ.
Doubts about a literal Bible will cause children to doubt the Bible is literal. And if your faith is completely summed up in a literal, scientifically-accurate Bible, it will topple when your children are educated.
An educated child will know that the Bible is not scientifically accurate. He or she will figure out rapidly that when the Bible says the sky is hard–as it does in Job 37:18 directly and in Genesis 1 by implication and by use of the word firmament–it is not scientifically accurate. They will realize that when the Bible says that the earth is set on pillars, as it does in 1 Sam. 2:8, it cannot be scientifically accurate.
What will you do then if your faith is based on the Bible’s scientific accuracy?
What will you do when they realize there is no reconciling Genesis 1 and Genesis 2–at least not if you use any reasonable thinking? What will you do when they realize that rabbits don’t really chew the cud, it only looks like they do? What will you do if they really take a hard look at the earth screaming out to them in its layers and fossils that life has changed over long geologic periods?
You will lose them; that’s what you’ll do.
Unless you’ve taught them to follow Jesus Christ and given them an example by your life that he’s real and powerful.
Christian Parenting and the Commands of Christ
I can find many commands for Christian parents to give their children an example of faith. I can find many commands for Christian parents to teach their children the things God has done.
I can’t find any that tell Christian parents to hide their children from science and the testimony of the earth.
My children know that the molecules we’re made of are produced by supernovas. They’re awestruck by the fact that we’re made of stardust.
They, like myself, think God did that.
My children know the story of Rose Creek Village. They know about some amazing Scriptural prophecies about how God builds the house of God that he did in founding the church here in Rose Creek, TN. They know about the numerous miraculous events that established the church here and that keep it going.
My children know about God’s work in the hearts of people. They know about the devil’s work in the hearts of his children when the work of God expands and threatens the domain of darkness.
They believe all that is the hand of God.
My children know that following Christ is spiritual. They know that when they’re weak, they need a strength that comes from heaven.
My children know that dad is human and makes some really bad mistakes. They also know that public and private repentance, the forgiveness of the saints, and the mercy and cleansing of God are part of following God. They know I’ll come back even to them to repent for my human failings and to pray to God for grace to do better.
They know about everything I can possibly give them about the work of God throughout the ages, and they believe.
It is not questions about a literal Bible that make people fall away. It is questions about the reality of Jesus Christ that make children fall away.
Do you want your children to stand? Plant their feet upon the rock. The rock is obedience to Christ, and the Bible commands you to teach them about the works of God, not about the scientific accuracy of the Bible.
Sorry, Ken Ham. I just can’t agree with you about what the problem is because I’ve yet to see it be a problem.