Depending upon the source, only 3-10% of children being raised in Christian homes have a faith foundation strong enough to ensure they will be faithful Christians as adults. Yet, I imagine if we were to poll Christian parents, the vast majority would say their children fell into that 3-10% of spiritually grounded young people. It’s human nature to think we and those we love are the positive exceptions to the rule. It’s one of the reasons why people continue to do things they know are bad for their health – they will be in that small minority that comes out unscathed from their bad choices.
Part of the problem is that as parents we tend to freeze frame our children at various points in their lives. Your view of the strength of your children’s faith may very well be based on something they said when they were in preschool about how they love Jesus. Or maybe your confidence is based on the fact that your children chose to be baptized and devote their lives to Christ. While that is an important step on any faith journey, it doesn’t guarantee your children won’t rebel against God later in life.
We tend to think rejection of God begins when someone becomes enamored of and then enmeshed in sin. The truth is that for many young people being raised in Christian homes, the first step away from God is much more subtle and insidious. In fact, it’s a little replay of how Satan worked in the Garden of Eden. Satan lured Adam and Eve into sin by getting them to question and then doubt God’s truth – if they ate the fruit of that tree, they would die.
Satan works the same way today. First come the questions. What I’ve always wondered is why Adam and Eve didn’t discuss what Satan said with God before they ate the fruit. It wasn’t like they were starving. Or that they didn’t have regular access to God who actually walked and talked with them. They just chose not to go to the source of truth with their questions. Adam and Eve accepted Satan’s lie as the answer to the question he had posed and acted accordingly.
Your kids are going to have lots of questions about spiritual things. It’s how they process and learn. To you, some of these questions may sound like doubts more than questions and in some cases, they may be. These questions and doubts can feel very scary as parents. What if we don’t know the answer? What if we give the wrong answer? Or perhaps we give the right answer, but word it in such a way that it pushes are children even farther away from God?
Interestingly, studies have shown that it’s not these questions and doubts that in and of themselves cause young people to reject God. It’s when they go unanswered by Christian adults. Because, just like in Eden, Satan will make sure they will get his answer. And Satan’s answers are always designed to encourage us to walk away from God and live life our way.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your kids are set because they don’t ask these questions. They may not have voiced them to you or know how to articulate them, but they have them. If you shut them down whenever they ask a spiritual question, they will stop asking them and that puts your kids’ faith at even greater risk. Make your home a place where it is safe to ask any question about God, the Bible, Christianity or anything else of a spiritual nature. Be honest if you don’t know the answer and look for answers together. (Note: Any answer should ultimately point your kids to scripture, not another human – unless that human is used to encourage your kids to read and study scripture.)
Your children have spiritual questions. Encourage them to ask them all and help them find biblical answers. Don’t let Satan have free reign over your children’s thoughts and beliefs.