It has been very reassuring reading what Joseph and others have been saying about the activity in their churches. That is the key. Those atheists who say that we should not teach children about our faith strike at the heart of things. I’ve five children, three of whom are active Christians, one who is an occasional attendee, and the fifth, the youngest girl, well, she just can’t see the point. What did we do with them when they were young?
They all got dragged off to chapel twice on Sunday. We had morning prayers at home, and they went along to Bible study on Thursday when they were old enough. Did they complain? Yes. Did we take any notice? Yes. But we explained that this was what we did and that we thought it was good for them. But we also made a promise, which was that if, when they reached 16, they didn’t want to come, they could stop. The point was, we explained, that if they decided not to go, then if they changed their mind later, they’d know what it was they were going back to. Well, the three oldest were baptised in due course and have continued in their faith. The eldest daughter is now an Anglican, but we don’t hold that against her (comes of living down south, I reckon). The two next, both lads, remain with the Baptists, and the youngest lad will go to church on high days and holidays, so to say; like his eldest sister, he prefers the C of E. The youngest has always gone her own way on these matters, and continues. I think she was surprised when we kept our promise; but we did.
That’s all you can do as a parent. You can show them the way, but for the rest, it is God who gives the increase. But if we had not done this then I wonder what chance there would have been that three to four of the children would be Christians? Those who argue we should have given them a choice need to think instead of wobbling with the brain. What choice would they have had if no one had taken them near a church? how would that have been a choice? No more than the rest of us can children choose what they do not know exists. Not giving your child the experience of something which has helped shape our world and culture for so long is to deprive them of a real choice and to imprison them in your choices.
I wonder how many out of 5 children of atheists would somehow end up in church, and how they’d get there or have some understanding of it? In the final analysis, those of us who are Christian parents have a responsibility to bring our children up in the faith. As my own experience shows, that is not going to mean you brain-wash them and they end up not making a choice. Rather, it is about having an informed choice – one that is not just informed by the prejudices of the modern media.