Friday, July 02, 2004

Raising Children in the Faith

Recently I overheard a conversation that bothered me. Perhaps, the remarks were uttered without thought, but it still bothered me. The person began, “I had loving parents. They did not force me to go to church or anything.” Is this attitude particularly loving? Granted, we are unable to force anyone to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, but we certainly can take an active interest in the development of faith. As parents, Sara and I force Thomas to do a lot of things he doesn’t want to do. We make him take baths, do his homework, be respectful to others. We hope that these things will make him a better human being. Why should we treat his faith any differently? I am reminded of the vows that parents take at baptism in the Hungarian Reformed Church.

The Minister:
Before I would administer the Holy Baptism, I address two questions to you, to which you shall reply in audible words:

i) Do you wish that by means of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism this infant be enrolled into the Covenant of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and also be admitted into the holy Christian Church?

Parents and godparents shall say: We do.

(ii) Do you pledge and vow, that from now on you shall raise up this child in the fear and admonition of the Lord and also have him (her) educated, so that in due course of time, in the presence of the congregation he (she) voluntarily will make a profession of faith in the one eternal God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?

Parents and godparents shall say: We do.

Those vows suggest the incredible responsibility of the parents for the salvation of their children. Perhaps, forcing someone to go to church isn’t the best way to raise them in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. But indifference should never be called loving.

Sara suggests that I am overreacting. She is probably right. But I think that we are living in a culture that treats the development of faith with indifference. For some reason we call this lack of guidance as loving. In fact, our indifference has become cliché. It is ironic that parents who hope and desire for every good benefit on their children fail to raise them in the faith.