By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
Ask almost any group of Christians when morals began to decline among young people in America and someone in the group will most likely point to the day prayer was taken out of schools. That was June 25, 1962, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school-sponsored prayer unconstitutional. But if those who see this as a turning point are right, then does that fact actually say more about the state of Christian families than it does about the schools? In other words, if taking prayer out of schools had that much impact, then maybe Christian families were not doing enough spiritual training themselves. God commanded his people to teach their own children about his ways (Deuteronomy 6: 1-9). But over time, have Christians abdicated that responsibility to others? Today, like most of society, schools are undergoing radical cultural shifts that tend to be hostile to Christian values and teachings. What a child learns in his Christian church on Sunday morning, is often criticized or contradicted one way or another in his school, the next day on Monday. Sexual acts that are considered sins at church are celebrated on the school campus. This has to be confusing to a child. Does it make sense then, to keep putting Christian school kids through this? It seems apparent that something needs to change.
The good news is that God is not caught off guard. The Bible predicted that there would be a day when people would reject strong doctrine or rather, be hostile to the teachings of God (2 Timothy 4:3). We are in that time period now. Our children are caught in the crossfires of a spiritual war in which Satan will deceive many into rejecting biblical teachings and lifestyles in favor of lifestyles that oppose Christianity (Ephesians 6:12). His goal is to get people to reject God so that they will be eternally punished and suffer forever in hell. It’s entirely tragic (Revelations 20:11-15). Hell is a form of slavery with no relief. Unfortunately, Satan’s cruel scheme is working on many of our young people who are unaware of what is happening to them. In 2019 Lifeway released a study that revealed that most young people who leave church do so when they enter college. However, about half of a second group of respondents who decided not to leave church said, “the church was a vital part of their relationship with God (56%) and that they wanted the church to help guide their decisions in everyday life (54%).” The question is, how do we get more young people to draw the same conclusion?
Perhaps it starts with an honest evaluation of how we educate Christian children. We can begin by asking questions. Are we as parents and family members really taking as much responsibility for the training of children as we can or could we do more? Do our Vacation Bible School Programs, Sunday Schools and Youth Programs truly prepare children for the real world they are facing in the 21st Century? It appears to me that many Vacation Bible School Programs for instance feel like slick Disney productions from about 40 years ago. In other words, they seem generic. While we are teaching generic ideas about the faith, look at what the secular world is teaching our children: Movies promote fornication (sex before marriage). Main characters sleep together almost a few minutes after being introduced to each other. Yet the Bible tells us to shun fornication (1 Corinthians chapter 6). LGBT groups promote a society where gender is something you can choose about like you might pick a box of cereal. They successfully lobby schools to allow boys to compete as girls with girls in sports. God said that he made humans male and female (Genesis 1:27). Marriage is treated like Play Dough. Make it what you want. But the Bible says it was designed by God to be between a man and woman only. God gave specific directions on marriage and divorce/remarriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:1-11). God prohibits the practice of homosexuality—something that goes against his teachings (Leviticus 18:22, Romans Chapter 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Satan goes after children early. In fact, not long ago, I stumbled upon a children’s book called “My Two Moms”. The title tells it all. The implications of that incident too are that we must realize the window of time is small when it comes to children and as the Bible teaches, we must reach them very early (Proverbs 22:6). I am of the opinion that a child’s first three words should be: mom, dad, God.
Why not use the Bible as the instruction book it is meant to be and take God’s directions seriously? Why not teach sexual values to children at home and strengthen it in churches? I don’t mean the mechanics of sex, but rather teach God’s viewpoint on sexuality in relationship to morality. Remember, when we don’t teach sexuality from a Christian viewpoint, we leave our children open to a culture that deliriously pushes an anti-Christ version of sexuality and reproduction. Indeed, sins are rebranded as rights. That is why there is an almost violent push back over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. And it is getting louder. Consider the irony of it all. What we have here is a radicalized group of young people fighting for the right to kill their own children. The biblical point of view is lost on them (Exodus 20:13). Reaching our children early helps instill respect for God’s ways before the world can rush in with seductive lies that pervert their souls.
Of course, there is no guarantee that we can save every child. The Bible itself warns that the road to hell is wide and unfortunately many will travel it. Many people will simply reject Jesus. Yet, the worst thing we can do is to be passive and throw up our hands. We are not helpless in this. First, if we love them, we will realize our children are worth the effort. Second but not least, we are commanded by God himself to warn people about evil. In Ezekiel 33:8-9, we see that God makes it clear that if we do not warn people when we see them headed down the wrong path, we will personally be held accountable. However, if we warn them and they continue down the wrong path, we will not be held accountable.
I realize that when we flip on the TV or Internet, it’s easy to be discouraged by the forces that are lined up against Godly morality: Hollywood, some media, political leaders, governments, corporations, celebrities—the list is growing. But we can be encouraged when we realize that we are on the side of God whenever we submit to do his will. He will hear our prayers and work through us. No one will ever defeat God. But we must put him first and teach our children to do so. The schools can’t do it. The world won’t do it. It is up to us to teach Christian values at home, often and accurately regardless of how crazy things get. That also means we must get our own spiritual houses in order. Read the Bible. Attend church. Live by godly guidelines. Believe. Children learn by what we do, not just what we say. Families are a child’s best teachers. We are not fighting for good grades. We are fighting for something more precious: our children’s souls.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” –The Book of Ephesians, 6:12
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