Why I Would Never Force my Kids to go to Church

My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up.  No joke.  Three times.  Every.  Single.  Day.  And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either.  Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made.  “Ewww, gross!  Sauteed zucchini?  Seriously?  Mom, you know we hate this stuff!”  So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision.  Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals.  Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation.  I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there.  But daily eating?  No way.  I’m done.

Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous.  But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.

My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher.  He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again.  Who wants to waste their time going somewhere where they aren’t being fulfilled?

We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing.  We don’t want to restrict her imagination.  We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life.

Okay, Ruth.  Come on.  That one was just ridiculous.  No loving parent would ever say that.  That’s a safety issue- a matter of life and death.  Exactly.  And that’s just my point.

Church isn’t a place you go to get pumped up about life.  It isn’t entertainment like a movie or concert.  It is literally a life and death matter.  Eternal life.  Just as a loving parent wouldn’t allow their child to wander in the road or to quit school, a loving Christian parent also does not give the option to their children about going to church, learning Bible stories at home, and praying together.  Do your kids always jump for joy when they hear you say, “Time to get up!  Let’s get ready for church!”  No.  They won’t.  Do they get excited for school every morning?  Hardly.  But you still make them go.  Why?  Because you are the parent and you know what’s best.  Even when they complain, you serve them healthful meals and limit their junk food intake.  You set boundaries for their own safety when playing outside.  You insist they go to school because you’re looking at the long term picture.  And you are right to do those things.  How much more so are you responsible for doing all you can to secure their eternal well being?

Yes, kids can be brought up in a loving Christian home and still turn away later.  That’s on them.  But you, parents, have a task of the utmost importance.  God has placed these precious children into your homes for such a brief while.  You have them with you for perhaps 1/5 of their lives.  Set a strong foundation while they are under your roof.  Take them to church.  Make sure they understand that they are sinners and that Jesus is their Savior.  They are never too young to learn this.  My one-and-a-half year old sees a cross and excitedly shouts, “Jesus!”  Don’t use the excuse that “they wouldn’t understand this.”  Try them.  I don’t understand it all myself, but I still believe.  And you’d better believe that the Holy Spirit works in their hearts effectively.  My children sometime amaze me with the insights they pick up during devotions or Bible readings.  The strength of their faith often humbles me.  Once when I was having a terrible day, my oldest asked, “Can I pray with you?”  He was nine at the time.  He knows there is power in prayer.  He perceives that sometimes there’s nothing he can say that will make it better, so he’ll just go straight to the One who does have that power.  Do my own kids complain about church?  Yes.  Do they tell me it’s boring?  Sometimes, yes.  They say the same things about school.  But church and school are different environments for a reason.  School is centered around learning and thus has its own schedule and structure.  Church is a hospital for sinners.  That would be all of us, mind you.  You, me, the drug dealer a few streets away- all of us are sinners in need of a Savior.  So what do we do at church?  We confess our sins.  Why do we do this at the start?  To “wipe our feet” before entering God’s house, so to speak.  Then we are assured of forgiveness.  We hear God’s Word.  We sing hymns proclaiming what Christ has done for us.  We hear sermons where our pastors preach Christ.  We don’t go to church to hear what we have to do to gain heaven.  No, Christ did it all.  100%.  We can’t do one thing to merit salvation for ourselves.  That’s why we hear sermons about Jesus and not about us. We take the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion for the strength of our souls.  And we depart refreshed to serve God by serving our families, friends, and neighbors in Christian love.

So parents, don’t give in to outside pressures telling you not to force your kids to go to church.  Don’t give in to them, either, when they complain about it.  Because at some point an amazing thing happens- that kid who complains about church grows up and takes his or her own kids to church every Sunday.  Going back to my opening analogy, believe it or not, there came a point in my own life where I realized I actually liked sauteed zucchini (although I never would have admitted that to my mother).  Keep at it, parents.  Just as we need three meals a day for physical strength and nourishment, so do we need regular worship to refresh and strengthen our souls.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make breakfast.

 

Author’s note:  In response to many of the comments I wrote a new post called To Brainwash a Child? on March 31.  You may be interested in checking it out if you haven’t already.
photo is Baylee by Ally Mauro
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393 thoughts on “Why I Would Never Force my Kids to go to Church

  1. I was raised Catholic , Catholic schools the whole way through. Talk about brain washing at its finest. The fact that I could even engage in a sexual relationship after listening to those nuns telling you your going to hell if you do anything before marriage was a miracle. That religion in my opinion is full of man made rules and demonic beliefs. 20 yrs ago I gave my life to Christ at a non-denom christian church. I have never felt such freedom in all my years on this earth. I live by the bible not by some man made rules. If its not in the bible its not true is what I stand by. God loves me and wants the best for me even through trials and sufferings he is molding me and shaping me into a better person. I love him with all of my heart. Besides its people who can turn you away from your faith not God. Its people and their beliefs or disection of the bible that can make you 2nd guess yourself.. Thats why its so important to guard your truths by knowing scripture and keeping your nose in the bible and not in anyone else’s business. Most of all LOVE just love people even when its hard. Thats what God is.. he is LOVE.

    • You DO know that the bible was also written by man, translated by man, and probably changed by man. You ARE living by man made rules.

      • I highly encourage you to read the “What About” pamphlet on the Bible. The “What About” series is a set of 27 pamphlets put out by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) that address different theological topics as well as moral issues. Let me quote for you one section:

        The Bible itself explains how we received it.“All Scripture is
        God-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking,correcting
        and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).We read elsewhere
        that,“Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man,
        but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the
        Holy Spirit”(2 Pet.1:21).
        Because people knew that the Bible was the actual Word of
        God, it was copied and re-copied with painstaking care and
        attention to detail,letter by letter,word by word.Though today
        we no longer possess the actual,original text of the Bible,we
        can be certain that the Holy Spirit has preserved the Word of
        God for us.Careful study of the many thousands of copies of
        the New Testament reveals that though there are minor differences
        between the various copies,there is no place where any
        key teaching of the Bible is contradicted.
        Our English Bibles are translations from the original
        languages.When we use reliable translations,we can be sure
        that we have the true Word of God.Whatever the Word of God
        is in Hebrew,Aramaic or Greek, it is also the Word of God in
        English,or in any other language,as long as the translation is
        faithful to the original languages. Reliable translations include
        the King James Version, the New King James Version, the old
        Revised Standard Version, the New International Version and
        the New American Standard Bible.

        And a quote from another part of the pamphlet:
        Real human beings were given real words from God to
        write down.As our Lord Jesus Christ was both true God and
        true man, so the Bible is truly the Word of God and also the
        writing of human beings. Even as our Lord Jesus took on
        human flesh free from sin and error, so God used human
        beings to provide a written revelation of Himself that is free
        from error.Thus,we believe that the Bible is both incapable of
        error (infallible) and free from error (inerrant).

        I encourage you to take a look at any and all of the “What About” pamphlets. That link displays all of the topics. This one goes specifically to “The Bible.” They are short (two pages) and easy to read. Check them out!

      • I agree with Maria. I come from a different culture but did go to Methodist school for 10 years. We had church service every Monday morning at school and bible class weekly which I had no problem with learning about Christianity. I do still have the bible from my school days. Bible is written by a man and passed on to a new generation each year and also translated into so many languages throughout the world. When a story is told from a person to a person, by the 100th person who tells the story, it is a totally different story. The real meaning gets lost in the translation as well. And churches are simply organized business. It is just a place of social gathering. If you truly practice religion, you can do it anywhere. It doesn’t have to be at a church. Religion isn’t a requirement but a personal choice and should be in your heart.

    • It was the first Catholics who went through hundreds of books to make the bible. Why do Protestants believe everything has to be in the Bible? 2 Thes 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter The people you quote in scripture were same people who had an alter at mass, not a podium at service. And the freedom. What did being a catholic stop you from having pre marital sex? No that’s the word of God. Your freedom comes from having a church turn Jesus into your personal Jesus. Someone you can change rules to make yourself happy. It teaches no discipline. So please don’t go on trying to bash the church Christ setup. Do your homework and come home sister

  2. I was forced to go to church as a child, and I was always in trouble for questioning everything being told to me… I would read the stories myself and challenge the teachers, and as a result spent a lot of time with the adults in big church.

    Fast forward, and I am able to make my own choices, I have not set foot in a church since. I never believed in any higher power, and I was discouraged by the hypocrisy and ‘Sunday Faces’ everyone seemed to have in in the church.

    Fast forward again, and I have not pushed any religion or non-religion on my children. I just raise them to be good people, think of others and how your actions will affect those around you. When they are able to decide for themselves about religion or spirituality they can. For all I know, they might enjoy the life of a Buddhist.. why should I deny them that, or force them into something else. It would be a shame that they would be a christian only based on how I was raised which was only because how my parents where raised, which if you go back is only because if where we were born on the planet. If I was born in Turkey for example, there would be a much higher chance I would have been raised Muslim…

    Religion is a personal thing. I think that children should be excluded until they can make an informed choice (of course that would mean the collapse of all organized religions, but I digress).

    • I completely agree with you. I am a woman of Science. I choose to teach my children scientific fact. Things that have been proven. Sure they ask about God because they hear things at school. I tell them the stories of the bible but I also make sure that they know that these are just that….”stories”. I see the bible more like a self help book than anything else. It has good life lessons but not to be taken as actual fact.

      • Why do you believe it shouldn’t be taken as fact? I can’t think of a better message to teach as fact! Jesus dying for us to take away our sins? Wonderful news! You mean I don’t have to earn my way to heaven, because Jesus already did that for me? Fantastic! It takes the guesswork out of salvation. I don’t have to be “good enough” or “appease the gods” or whatever verbiage one chooses to use. My salvation is guaranteed because of my loving Savior, and that’s a fact.

      • I think the young Earth creationists are somewhat damaging Christianity in the United States. They are so obviously wrong and yet will not concede to anything.

        Taking the bible as a set of stories which can be used to direct your life I think it fine, sort of like Aesop’s Fables, but believing it word for word (remembering it’s been translated dozens of times) and then saying that Science is wrong just puts them way out in left field alone.

        The bible has a lot of great life lessons, but then ones I found to be particularly disturbing like when God makes a bet with Satan in Job, and as collateral damage murders his whole family just to prove his point. I see the point of the story, that Job was loyal no matter what, but being taught stories like that as a child left a scar… one that turned me off religion.

      • I’m sorry that’s how you feel. I hope you read my response to Maria as well, regarding the accuracy of the Bible and the my response to the critique of the text being copied and translated numerous times. The Bible was so carefully and painstakingly copied that scribes literally had to copy one letter at a time. They couldn’t even look at a sentence and write it down. They had to write one letter at a time. That’s how seriously they took their job. If you believe the Bible to be inaccurate due to copy errors, you have to hold the same logic for Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and other such ancient books that have been copied and translated. They were subject to far less regimented rules in translation than the Bible was.

        Regarding creation, neither of us will change the mind of the other. I happen to believe exactly opposite of what you believe- I think evolution has done great damage to this country, and to me it is evolution that is obviously wrong.

        Regarding the disturbing accounts in the Bible, yes, there are some accounts that make us uncomfortable to read. The Bible is made up of real people who really sinned and made mistakes, and the Bible doesn’t gloss over that. Even main characters in the Bible, like King David, had flaws, and the Bible doesn’t try to hide those. As per Job, there is comfort there, believe it or not. I wouldn’t say Satan made a “bet” with God. Satan actually had to get permission from God to test Job, and God allowed him that in this case. Satan doesn’t have power on his own, and that is a huge comfort. And God wasn’t the one who killed off Job’s family- Satan did that. Does God condone it? No, but He allows it. The point is that nothing can snatch Job out of God’s hand. The book isn’t supposed to elevate Job to show how great his faith is. By the end, he was despairing too. The point is that no matter what earthly trials Christians face here on this earth, God still provides His strength to believers and keeps them in His care.

      • It’s okay… really you don’t need to feel sorry for me. I think we’re both people who have a solid head on our shoulders just diametrically apposed on a lot of issues.

        For the bible, yes I agree that it was painstaking copied, I too would say it’s likely to be 100% accurate from the original copies (keeping in mind they where in Hebrew, and not English). The bible as I am sure you already know is a compilation, and was not written as a book to be read cover to cover… rather it’s a collection of many books of the day. The way the books are arranged has some play in the story, but does not necessarily follow the chronology of their authorship.

        That’s one reason why although the chapters might be accurate to how they were written, I cannot accept the book as a whole. There are too many additions/deletions over the centuries. What political or social factors played in the changes? We’ll never know I guess.

        Now moving to creation… Creation and Evolution are somewhat different. To be more fair we would have to compare creation to abiogenesis. Evolution does not account for how life started, it only tracks how life got to where it is now, based on it already being in existence at some point. The point I want to make is that there is overwhelming evidence of evolution. How can that be ignored? Evolution does not mean there is no creator… maybe that was mechanism used to create life, we can’t really say with 100% certainty.

        So since I have you here, and I think we can have a very constructive if not apposing argument, how can you explain the following? (I have looked into a lot of these, but have not found plausible explanations). So how would you explain these?

        – Fossil record. Exclude time, and only look at the layers. Simple creatures at the bottom, more complex at the top. This is global too. Even if there was a global flood, you would expect millions of animals all mixed up, yet they are nicely laid out in order.

        – Scientists are able to use the genome of animals to predict and then find the ancestry saved in DNA. So for example they can demonstrate that Humans and Bonobos share a common ancestor as shown in our DNA. That biological evidence is overwhelming and supports the fossils and living animals.

        – What parts of evolution do you find to be harming the USA? Is there something in particular? I am very interested in that.

        I am also open to answering any questions you have too. Keeping civil and explaining how we view the world I think is important. I am no way right all the time, but I like to think that I can change when found wrong.

        Finally, wow, this is going to be a long post, with the Job story. As a child like I was saying I was mortified that god would allow all the death just to prove a point. Job’s original family had done nothing wrong, and yet they were killed for god to prove his point to satan. Why would god even care what satan has to say? If god is all powerful, satan is not a threat.

        I guess saying that god doesn’t kill people, but allows it is the scary part as an adult. Why would god allow so much pain and suffering, yet never intervene?

        Anyway, I have typed enough, I don’t want to take up your whole day, but I do want to keep an open argument/conversation. We both have things to think about for sure!

      • Excellent questions, and I appreciate that you are as civil as you are in your remarks. If you are truly interested in learning what creationists teach about evolution, how they explain evolutionary theories, etc, I highly recommend Answers in Genesis. Roger Patterson (a former evolutionist, mind you) has written a book that can be found free online at the Answers in Genesis website. It is called Evolution Exposed: Earth Science. Chapter 7 is “The Fossil Record,” and here is the summary statement:

        Just like any other piece of historical evidence, fossils don’t speak for themselves. Evolutionists believe that the fossil record supports their theory of the slow and gradual evolution of life from amoebas to astronauts. Creation scientists reject this view and choose to accept the biblical version of the origin of life on earth. The fossil record is instead primarily a record of the destruction and death caused by the Genesis Flood. Extensive fossil graveyards and coal deposits are more consistent with a global catastrophe than with slow and steady processes over millions of years.

        The formation of fossils demands that the organisms be buried quickly in an environment free of oxygen where nothing will disturb them. We find few places like this on earth today. Flood conditions are ideal for forming fossils, and the global Flood described in Genesis provides a starting point to examine the fossil record. Far from showing gradual changes of one organism transforming into another, the fossil record shows fully-formed organisms appearing suddenly and disappearing—just what we would expect if life were created and then later judged by the Flood. The Bible offers a framework to understand the fossil record.

        It goes on to provide a much more detailed explanation of the fossil record, written by someone with much more expertise on the subject than myself.

        Regarding the DNA question, we have a common Creator! Why couldn’t He choose to use similar DNA for humans and other mammals? But for a more detailed answer, again I point you to an article on Answers in Genesis. Do Even-tempered Empathetic Bonobos Reflect Human Evolutionary History? I learned some things myself as I read the article. It may interest you.

        To answer your question about what parts of evolution I see as harmful to our country, I believe it pulls people away from belief in God. Most public schools teach evolution as absolute fact, which causes many students to doubt the creation account they learned in church, and therefore question their entire faith. It happens often especially at the college level.

        I want to respond as well to your questions about Job, but at this moment I do not have the time. I will respond more fully to that tomorrow. Thanks again for your respectful manner in voicing your questions. I appreciate it more than you might realize!

      • Good evening… So I read over the website you provided and Chapter 7 specifically.

        So, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but there was one paragraph that touched on how fossils are always found (except some examples which are not cited) in an order from least to most complex. A lot of the article is just on the mechanics of how a fossil can be made. Personally I think that is washing over the real issue. How the fossils came to be only half the question. Why they are laid out the the way they are is the greater question.

        Ignoring the time frames (millions or thousands of years), across the globe, we find the same pattern of fossils. For a huge simplification: start digging at the top, and you find the advanced animals, go down deeper and they get less and less complex.

        Fossils are also very rare when you consider how much life has died since the beginning of time. I just cannot wrap my head around how they are laid out so evenly across the globe. There are no human fossils with dinosaurs, and if there was a global flood, the two would have died and presumably be buried at the same time, in the same layers. (keeping in mind that fossils are extremely rare), but we should at least find some examples, since we have found many dinosaurs…

        I also read over the bonobos article… this was about behaviour, the reason bonobos are considered our closest cousin is because of their DNA… more specifically the amount the share with us. Sequencing the bonobo and human, shows that we share 99% of the same DNA, now I do know that the 1% is quite significant given the numbers, but still 99% is significant too!

        Finally about the harm to society, I guess in full disclosure, I am not American, I am Canadian, so things up here are quite different as much as they are the same. Here, religion is not taught at all in public school, we have separate religious schools that parents can send their children too. Our public schools, (and Catholic if you check that box on your form), are all paid for through property taxes. So the curriculum is set so that the vast majority are included. Of course there are people who disagree with this or that, but those are a small minority, and in a country of so many nationalities, you can’t make everyone happy all the time.

        I also think that people who believe in young Earth creation here in Canada is much less than in the USA. I don’t have any stats on that, I’m just going with my gut feeling… as I had never even heard of young Earth my whole life growing up in the church.

        Evolution is taught as a fact in public school because of the overwhelming evidence with collaboration across multiple sources in science. There is just too much data out there to ignore!

      • I’m impressed that you read both articles. In regard to the fossil record, the fact is that even in the lower rock strata there are complex life forms with fully formed parts. The first strata in which life forms can be found is named the Cambrian level. Most of the major groups of life are represented in this layer. Prior to this, little can be found, which leads evolutionists to title this the “Cambrian explosion,” in which life in both simple and complex forms appeared. But you see, there are no “transitional” links that have been found, either between animal species or between apes and man. This “Cambrian explosion” actually fits with the creation of the world. Above the Cambrian period, new forms of life are distinctly separate from other forms in unconnected gaps. This fits with the acts of God’s creation on days 5 and 6. If evolution was a fact, there should be millions of links or transitional forms. (I don’t know if this article addresses your concerns more, but I found this to be helpful as well: Order in the Fossil Record by Andrew Snelling. Much more scientific than my own answers!)

        As for evolution between apes and men, there has never been a real transitional form found. Time-Life put out a series of volumes some years ago called “The Emergence of Man,” which included many illustrations of intermediate figures between apes and men. They claimed that the Australopithecus was the “missing link” scientists had been looking for, pointing to the “African Man” as proof. This “African Man” was reconstructed from 400 tiny skull fragments discovered in Kenya in 1959. That’s a lot of weight given to 400 tiny fragments. For some time, evolutionists pointed to the Java Man as the missing link that was half-man, half-human, but now Java Man is considered even by evolutionists to be true man. The fact of the matter is simply this- variations in human structure exist in modern times as well as in fossil people. People with spinal osteo-arthritis may have bent spines that resemble those stooped “cavemen” drawings we see, but that doesn’t mean they are transitional beings. Modern day Eskimos have features in common with the Peking Man, and some South Pacific Islanders have skull features similar to those of Heidelberg Man. A distinct bump on the frontal bone and a receding forehead on the Peking Man are characteristics of modern Eskimos and Australian aborigines. The fact that the structure of many fossil people differs from those of modern man is not proof of evolution. In the human family today many variations exist, from South American pigmies to tall African Watusi. And as for the similarities in DNA, again I say that points to a common Creator. I am a classical musician, and I can tell from listening to a piece whether it was written by Bach or Mozart, for example. They each had their own unique style of composing, and used many of the same motifs and patterns from one piece to another. We see in God’s creation examples of both similarities and differences.

        (As a side note, I believe the time frame for comments on this particular blog post is coming shortly to a close. If you wish to respond or continue the conversation, send a reply in the “About the Author” section [I won't post it publicly] and I can e-mail you. This has been an interesting conversation!)

      • The story of Job is one that has troubled people of all ages. There are no easy, pat answers, honestly. Ultimately, sickness, pain, and death is the result of living in a fallen and sinful world. God created a perfect world, but when Adam and Eve sinned, the consequences included death and imperfection from there on out. Every death reminds us of the Law, whether a natural, “peaceful” death of old age, or a violent murder. All death points us to the consequences of sin.

        The fact that Job had to get permission from God to tempt Job is comforting. You’re right- God is all powerful, and Jesus has defeated him already, but Satan is still a threat. Not to God, mind you, but to us. And believe me, he tries his darnedest to cause people to doubt God. He wants nothing more than to prove in Job’s case that Job only trusted God because he had a great life. He was rich, he had a big family, many servants and livestock, and a great reputation. So Satan comes and makes the accusation that “Job fears you for no reason! You, God, have set a hedge around him. Nothing bad can happen to him. Of course he trusts you! But just wait until all that is gone. Then we’ll see if he really trusts in you or not!” Interestingly, Job tries to incite God to cause Job’s demise- “Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Satan wants God to be the one to afflict Job, but God cannot. It’s not in God’s nature. So God grants Satan the power in this case. Can I explain exactly why? No. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields sees for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that does out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it'” (Isaiah 55:8-11). God accomplishes His purposes in ways we will never understand or be privy to, and that’s a good thing.

        There is an important distinction to make about God that maybe I didn’t voice clearly in my other reply. God has a “directive” will and a “permissive” will. God’s directive will is what He brings to pass (such as creating the world, for example). His permissive will is what He allows to take place. For example, God permitted but did not direct the entrance of sin into the world.

        I found a helpful quote in my Lutheran Study Bible notes regarding Job 1:12, where God grants Satan permission to test Job. This comes from the book What Luther Says by Ewald M. Plass. “God sends no sickness into the world but through the devil. All sadness and sickness are of the devil, not of God. Whatever, therefore, pertains to death is the handiwork of the devil; and, conversely, whatever pertains to life is the blessed work of God… The devil must be our Lord God’s executioner.” I find that to be an insightful quote that gives me much to think about.

      • I’ll take your explanation on Job. This one sounds more philosophical than something that can be debated. I have no explanation on my end, other than what I am reading and what I took from the story. (does it mean I am right?) No… that was my interpretation. I have a feeling 100 people could read that story and come out with 100 different interpretations.

        For some it can be a wonderful story, and I don’t want to rain on that parade. I think we can agree to disagree.

      • I concur, and I wish that direct replies could be made to Ruth Meyer, so I will position my comment above Ruth Meyer’s comment below.

        From what I know, the bible is a collection of orally told stories that were passed down from generation to generation, which make up most of the Old Testament. The New Testament, however, was not orally passed down quite as much, if at all, and was made into written record, dating much closer to when these events occurred.

        If my statement is accurate (and I’m not sure if I am), then we can infer that the orally told stories of the Old Testament were more prone to distortion than the New Testament. The stories of the Old Testament would then be subject to exaggeration or inaccuracy depending on the individuals that preserved these stories from generation to generation. Are we to say that these stories never happened? You could, but one should discern the difference between the importance of the story and the whether or not it actually happened with 100% accuracy in the bible.

        One can still believe in the stories, but one should be open-minded and humble towards the inaccuracies brought by orally passed down stories, for which we have no power over. At least to me, that seems to be more of a Christ-like look on the matter than to suggest that every detail of the stories are true… rather, one should uphold the importance of the story. More good is sure to come from doing so.

      • Nothing wrong with learning from all the science can offer. Just recognize that there are a lot of accepted theories in science. The Theory of Evolution, The Big Bang Theory, etc. Theories, by definition, are unproven, and therefore not facts. So, those that believe in, say, the Big Bang Theory, believe that there was a spontaneous explosion that created the universe. We weren’t there. We have no written account of it. We just have a scientific theory of it, which some choose to believe. Point is… a lot of people who say they are science based, are more faith based than they realize, and closer to their faith based counterparts than they probably care to admit.

      • Maybe this is only semantics, but theory is the highest form of knowledge in science. Other theories would be; gravity, germ, motion, thermodynamics etc. Science is always growing, changing, updating. Even gravity is not a fact. Although we can observe the effects and make predictions based on them, it is still a theory.

        Now I 100% concede that I believe in what science tells me… at least science outside my field, since I cannot prove/disprove others work. The difference is that I can open the journal, and look at the papers submitted, I can read the methodology and see the process used to come to the conclusion.

        But you’re right, the big bang is not proven. It’s a theory, which is not the same as hypothesis, because there is evidence supporting the idea.

        So for evidence, we have an expanding universe. In the 50’s science also found background radiation which was predicted to exist … and it does.

        Do I believe that the big bang happened 100% as predicted? Who knows? You’re right was not there, I didn’t have a camera with me. However that argument can be used for everyone. No one was there at the point of creation of the universe. No one wrote it down.

        At this point, overlapping, overwhelming evidence supports a theory consistent with the big bang. That cannot be ignored.

      • I think that children should not have to make any decisions. Let them just be kids, they can decide when they are adults.

    • It’s a shame that religion was forced on you. Jesus came to save us, not to usher in a new religion. No person, not even your children, are “good enough”….we’re all born sinners, but Christ has paid the price for us all. I sincerely encourage you to seek and find Jesus Christ….He loves you.

      • See, that’s the 100% reason why I am not forcing Christianity on my children. They are not born anything… they are not responsible for the actions of those before them… they carry no vestiges of any ‘sins’. When a child is born, they are a clean blank slate. It’s extremely important that as a parent I nurture that innocence, and let them find their own spiritual path.

        Oh, I’ll parent, don’t get me wrong, but just like I cannot force a hair colour, or how well they pick up mathematics in school, I cannot force the feelings and relationships they will find on their own in the spiritual sense (or not).

        I read up a few posts ago about hygiene. I think we need to take the physical and non-physical worlds and separate them. I’ll make my son brush his teeth, I will not make him kneel and pray. Now when he can make his own choices, if he chooses that path, I will support him, just like as a parent I’ll support his other choices he makes as he grows/learns/matures.

        My kids are more than “good enough” and breaking them down from the start I feel is a very sad way to start life.

      • Ah, but we don’t “break them down from the start.” Kids know they aren’t perfect. Believe me. After my oldest does something wrong, he feels it intensely. There is no greater comfort than to tell him, “I forgive you, but more importantly, God forgives you.” Kids aren’t born innocent, despite what people like to believe. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” Psalm 51:5 tells us. Everyone has this sinful nature, and left to our own devices we will not choose God. To “let a child find their own spiritual path” is picking it for them as well. Unless a parent with that philosophy teaches his or her child about every religion out there, there’s no choice involved for the kids. The child will follow the belief of the parent, which in a case as this, seems to be ambivalent about God at the very least.

      • I guess we’ll have to disagree on this one. I don’t believe that children are born irately evil. Sure there are sociopaths out there, but like you mentioned, I see empathy in my children too. Since we’re a social animal, we have inherent society rules like empathy and compassion. We are for the most part born with these. I guess my idea is that if anyone needs religion or a reason from a higher power order to action these good qualities, they are probably not a very good person to start with.

    • I agree with you, Joe. Religion is a personal choice NOT a requirement. It should be worked inside you not at a place like church where is operated as business and a social gathering place. You can be spiritual without being religious. “Treat others the way you wanna be treated” should be practiced by all without involving religion.

      • As you probably guess I don’t go to church… now that being said, I know there are plenty of good ones out there, that help the community and offer real ‘value for the money’ to put it in those terms.

        However, you look at those massive mega churches that are popping up, raking in millions of dollars each year (tax free) and what are they doing? Lining their own pockets!

        Personally I believe many people go to church for the social aspects, and peer pressures. At home the other six days of the week they act just like everyone else.

      • That’s sad but true. Both points. There are some churches that care only about money. Personally, I have never been a part of such a church, and I thank God for the solid base I have. I am also blessed to have grown up in a family where faith was a 24/7 deal, not just some “club” to attend on Sundays.

  3. Many years ago I had a lady in my church office and she piously told me that she would not force her children to attend church, and would allow them to make up their own mind when they became adults….. I could not believe how angry she became with me when I asked her, “do you take this same philosophy in regard to their bathing?”

    • Hygiene and mythology….two completely different things. I wouldn’t have gotten mad. I would’ve just laughed at the ridiculousness of the question.

      • Ah, but Christianity is not mythology. His point is that parents care enough about their children to make sure they take care of themselves physically. Why should a Christian parent do otherwise for their child’s spiritual welfare?

  4. If I saw a growing minority of people who never ate, at all, and never suffered any ill effects from it–they never got hungry, never got weak, never missed food in the way we’d expect–I might give up daily eating. It would save a lot of money, after all, if food wasn’t really a need, but only something we’d been taught to THINK we needed.

    If I saw children routinely being hit by cars and not being hurt–and I’m not talking about miraculous near-death brushes, I’m talking about if a child could be hit full-on by a speeding vehicle with no harm, like the child was Superman–then I probably would let my daughter play in the road.

    If science and statistics proved that children learned just as much by NOT going to school as they do by going to school, I wouldn’t make my kids go to school.

    And what of church? Well, the more I learn about the world, the less I see Jesus actually doing anything real. I see there are good people and bad people in Christianity just like there are good people and bad people in other religions, so Christianity isn’t needed to be a good person. I see unhappy Christians and happy non-Christians, so I know Christianity isn’t required for happiness. I see dozens and dozens of examples where the Bible got things wrong, where it looks like God doesn’t even exist–so I have less confidence about the Bible’s predictions of heaven and hell. So no, forcing your kids to go to church isn’t the same as educating them, protecting them from harm, or caring for their most basic bodily needs. It’s just brainwashing, to force them to behave how you want them to behave.

  5. I like the article but I agree with a lot of the posts. Church can be the most hypocritical, judgmental, and alienating place in the world. I was an MK and I HATED church half the time. I HATED the God that my parents seemed to present who had very little grace and required such specific guidelines on EVERYTHING I did with no wiggle room. Don’t get me wrong though, Jesus touched my heart early on and I think that is why I had such a hard time with it. I loved and still do love Jesus but church didn’t help that at all. Well, I should say, my parent’s church didn’t help that at all. I have gone to 1 church in my life where I didn’t feel all of the above. Its so sad to me and yet I totally understand the putrid hate filled comments from those who had my same experience without the personal relationship with God.

    I was forced to go to church and say “all the right things” and do “all the right things” because, as I was reminded CONSTANTLY, whatever I did and however I acted reflected on the character of my God fearing parents. As a youth and into my early 20’s I was so very tempted to tell them and everyone in that church to go screw themselves and to turn my back on God. I still have resentment that I am prayerfully trying to work though. There are still verses that I can’t read without rolling my eyes because they were crammed down my throat so so so much. I have a hard time, sometimes, believing that my parents really loved me because they didn’t seem to take the time to explain things to me and let me develop as God had crated me.

    My husband is helping me in these areas that were all created by broken human beings trying their best to muddle through something that blows the mind. I am more saddened than bitter about how the body of Christ so often distorts the truth of who He really is.

    Back to the point, if we had children now I would not force them to go to church because the church we currently attend I have a hard time inviting my friends to. So sad. we are currently church “hunting” and that brings me to my final point. Search for that group of believers that will challenge you to grow, that will follow God, that does exercise grace and that is willing to admit that they are wrong when they are wrong. In that kind of an environment I believe a child can thrive. Take your children to church, just be careful what church that is you are taking them to.

  6. I have to say, I acknowledge that ‘being legalistic’ about forcing them to go to a church without love can cause rebellion. But if you are in love with Jesus, and you want to share that love, and you treat the church family as your family (loving and ‘disliking’ just as within our own imperfect families), then why would you not want to make sure your child is included in your family? Do you let them skip family gatherings? No, as a child I did not enjoy sitting at grandma’s house where there was NOTHING to do but watch Hee-Haw and that silly music show with bubbles, but those are some of my most cherished memories now of Grandma & Grandad. Time spent with loved ones. Children’s church, Youth Group may not be ‘fun’ – Sunday school is ‘boring’ – Small groups are ‘lame’, but our children are not our idols. It is not our job to entertain them. If we claim to follow Christ, then it is our job to teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, to talk about it as we walk along the road, as we lie down and get up – and go to church. Legalistic religion is false – love is real, and to be shared, even when it’s hard.

  7. I think the comments are really interesting and insightful for this discussion. Personally, though I do get the analogy and thought process behind the authors post, I think it should be discussed in a different light. For example: I agree, based on my personal beliefs, that attending church is the best thing for a child, I also agree that they may associate the practice much like eating some nasty vegetable and because they don’t know what’s best for them we should still try to encourage their participation. However, I’d like to take the food analogy a little further. With my kids if I encourage them try something to new to eat they are given the option to reject it after the attempt, if the attempt is acceptable. For instance if they lick the broccoli, well that’s not enough to get them off the hook. They need to actually “try” the thing before they can say they reject it. They also have the choice to rebel against my request and not try it at all. Because I am the parent and know what’s best for them and that trying broccoli will help them in the long run, I then can exercise my option to say it’s fine to not try it but you will have such and such a consequence, like missing out on dessert. The lack of dessert isn’t a punishment as much as an agreement between the two parties set upfront. As with the food analogy, I have asked my kids to “try” church, with the understanding that “trying” church is not the same as “trying” broccoli…one simple visit is not enough. Because religion is such a personal and emotional thing it would be impossible to “try” without at least some consistent participation. The next part though is the trick….there is a big difference in making your kids attend church and asking them to participate in religion. The rule or agreement in our house is that if you live here you attend church. However, belief is something different. There is no agreement or mandate to believe in what is being taught. In fact, you can question all you want and we will attempt to find answers together. More important to myself and my wife is that our children learn to speak with God and get answers back at a personal level. That is our main focus and as a result our children have found Him on their own. However, as a parent there is still a certain level of trust kids need to develop with their us. Which is where the analogy of the kid playing in the street make sense to me. My little 2 year old doesn’t understand why running in the road is not a good idea but he has learned to trust me. I feel bad for alot of the people commenting here. It sucks that you were forced to go to church instead of being taught to have a personal relationship with God. Again, I think you can have your kids go to church as a rule that doesn’t come across as forcing as long as they are given the opportunity to understand the agreement.

  8. Dear Ruth,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about realizing that we need to go to church, as much and as often as we venture to the grocery store – the sacrament of communion with the body and blood of Christ is our main goal, but as in all Christian churches, our simple act of togetherness is also sacred. To those responders to your post that say “I will never force church on my child, I will let them grow up and choose” – I would say that Christ told His followers to “take the block out of their own eye, then the eye of your brother (fellow human)” (I paraphrase). So in other words, for us to stay home and not go to church, lest our children feel forced, is to deny this commandment. It is to say to the parent “hold off on being Christian, on following Christ’s commandments, until your child is old enough to decide…?” What would you have us do, draw fish in the sand around our own kids? What kind of people are we really teaching them to be by doing this? Besides, you and I both know that no one can force anyone, not a child nor an adult, to believe in and love God. Really altogther a ridiculous assumption, when many of these speakers testify that they did, in fact, attend church in their youth.

    In Christ

    Melanie

  9. Simply…WOW ! Where did that maelstrom come from!? Apparently, there were many folk forced to go to church and were never taught why? God’s richest blessings to you, sister, for your genuine faith and trust in our Lord. The children He has placed in your care will genuinely benefit in the short term AND in the long term.

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