In recent years it has not been an uncommon occurrence to find members of the body of Christ showing up to services without their children. When queried as to whether everything is okay with the child the response goes something like: “They’re with a friend at such-and-such church tonight.” If they are asked further about the circumstances surrounding the action, they often respond with statements like, “We think our children need to experience other practices to see that we are doing what’s right” or, “We had agreed that if this friend came to services with us, we would allow our child to go to services with them.” Is this action appropriate for Christians and their children? Consider a few things with me on this particular topic.
Our children possess nothing that is more valuable than their souls. Under our care and responsibility they are to be prepared, guided and, when necessary, corrected to ensure that we do everything possible to take them down the path of righteousness and truth. Understanding that, how can we as parents allow them to be placed in a location of temptation and disobedience with our full commendation?
“We want our children to experience other beliefs…” It is amazing that Christian parents make this kind of argument on this issue when they would not do it on any others. They would not give their child alcohol or drugs so that they can experience the detrimental effects on the body. They would not encourage their children to explore other “beliefs” in areas of sexuality and morality; but they will, at the endangering of their soul, send their children to worship God with those who will not do so according to his commands and who teach things the Bible does not. Have we forgotten how God feels about unacceptable worship and those who teach false doctrine? Have the lessons of Nadab and Abihu, Hophni and Phinehas, the Corinthians, the seven churches of Asia, and so many others fallen on deaf ears?
Parents have allowed their children to participate in such things under the misguided perception that such actions are somehow good for the child. However, consider another question: what if the place they attended was worshiping other gods, making offerings to idols, or performing human sacrifices: would you still allow your children to go? “Oh no, we would never allow something like that,” such parents will inevitably cry. So which is worse: allowing your child to go somewhere where God is not being worshiped at all, or allowing them to attend where people claim to be worshiping and following God but do so incorrectly? One is just as bad and detrimental to the soul as the other. On more than one occasion I have heard a child return from such an excursion claiming that it was not really all that bad and he/she did not understand all the fuss. Later, the child would declare the belief that there are saved people in all churches and one is just as good as another. Then the parents would return wondering what was wrong with their child and why they left the church in such a manner, completely ignoring the mixed signals they sent their child with their allowances.
“We are simply upholding an agreement we made with the child’s friend.” This excuse has been used on many occasions as a valid reason for endangering the spiritual welfare of a child. Parents have convinced themselves that whatever is necessary to get people in the building is what must be done. Therefore, under the auspices of bringing friends to services they have prostituted the influence of truth in their child’s life for a moment’s access to a friend or family member.
The words of Paul come ringing to the ears when he argued, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). Though often applied in such a way, Paul is not in any way speaking of marriage in this context. He is speaking of the willingness of some to try to link themselves in decisions and practices with unbelievers. Yet the call goes out from the apostle to come out and be separate, to perfect holiness in the fear of God, to recognize that there is no equality between the practices of believers and unbelievers. Recognizing this, how can we then encourage our children to do what Paul says we should not?
As parents, it is our responsibility to emphasize purity and holiness before God and the greatness of truth over the philosophies and teachings of men. That is not to say that there should not be awareness of what other religious groups teach, but there are many other and better ways for that to be done than by this means. The souls of our children are precious and the impacts of the world grievous enough without throwing them into the lion’s den as well. Let us seek to encourage our children to reach out to their friends and loved ones with the truth, to seek the Lord and serve him with all their might, but also to never set aside the principles of truth and righteousness for the fallacies of experience and equality with those outside of Christ.