Are Christians guilty of brainwashing their children?

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The more worldly and ungodly American society becomes; the more devout Christians will be criticized and persecuted for their beliefs and actions. One popular criticism that has been levied against Christians in recent years involves the Christian home. Allegedly, Christian parents are guilty of brainwashing their kids. Before children are old enough to digest for themselves all of the evidence for God’s existence, the Bible’s inspiration, or Jesus’ deity, some Christians (though sadly not near enough) are ingraining these beliefs into their children. Faithful Christian parents regularly and systematically teach their children fundamental Christian teachings without apology. Is this not a form of brainwashing? Is it not “forcible indoctrination”? How do Christians respond to the “brainwash” accusation?

First, we freely and unashamedly admit that we instruct our children in the ways of God from the time that they are born until they leave home. We sing to them about God. We talk to them about Jesus. We read to them from the Holy Spirit’s inspired Word. Moses instructed the Israelites:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

Just as “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52), so the children of Jesus’ followers should be brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

But is this really the right thing to do? Is it not arrogant to teach kids that atheists and agnostics are wrong and that theists are right? Should we not let kids decide on their own if they want to believe in God? Is it not cultish to say Jesus “is the way, the truth, and the life”—that no one will live eternally in heaven except through Him (John 14:6)? Shouldn’t children be allowed to think for themselves?

The fact is, all parents (even atheistic and agnostic parents) teach their children that certain things are true and certain things are false; that some things are right and other things are wrong. Think about it: Can parents teach their children that 2 + 2 = 4, or must they allow their children to learn this for themselves? Can a mother teach her children that they are not ever to crawl into a freezer and close the door, or must she allow her children to risk suffocation and “learn on their own”? Can a father forbid his son from touching his guns and knives, or should he just leave them on the floor for the child to discover on his own what he should or should not do with such things? Can parents teach their children that they are to be kind to one another, and if they bite and hit each other they will be punished? Can parents teach their children that lying is wrong? Or, must parents simply allow the children to lie whenever they want, and to make up their own minds if lying is wrong for them when they become 18? Most rational adults would never sanction such foolish “parenting.” All parents “brainwash” their children about certain things. [Furthermore, we also understand that children grow up and ultimately decide for themselves what they want to believe and how they want to act, regardless of past influences (cf. Joshua 24:15; Revelation 22:17).]

In truth, Christians teaching their children that God exists or that the Bible is God’s Word is as logical, truthful, and fundamental as teaching them that 2 + 2 = 4. If parents can teach their children laws of science, such as the Law of Causality, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, and the Law of Biogenesis, then they are implicitly teaching their children that God exists, because all of these laws point to a Creator. If parents can teach children that no mere man knows the future, and then read from the Bible dozens of examples of fulfilled prophecies, they have simply taught the fundamental fact that the Bible is a book of Supernatural origin. Indeed, God exists and the Bible is His Word.

God wants us to teach our children about Him and His Word because it is the right thing to do. If it is acceptable to teach our kids about reading, writing, and arithmetic, about the laws of science, and about how bad lying and murder are, it most certainly is rational to teach children about the evidence for God’s existence and the reliability of His Word. After all, we would not even have reading, writing, arithmetic, laws of science, truth, the value of human life, etc. without God. He is the foundation of every good and true thing. He “is true” (John 3:33). His “Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). His “word is truth” (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). And the truth will set men free (John 8:32). Nothing is more important to teach children.

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

From Apologetics Press

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Categories: Apologetics, Christianity

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. This is really good. I have heard quite a few people say that Christians brainwash their kids or, worse yet, indoctrinate them.

    Like

  2. We do ~ if we don’t the world will.

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  3. Good reflection. True that every parent, Christian or otherwise, is teaching their child something – some true, some not true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely right. In fact I would say it’s harmful for Christian parents not to pass on their beliefs to theor kids.

      To deprive a child of living water (John 4:10–14) and the spiritual nourishment (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:1–4) available in the Bible, to deprive a child of the knowledge that they were created by a God who loves them (John 3:16; Colossians 1:16; John 1:3–4,12–14), to deprive a child of the knowledge that the evils of life are rooted in man’s sinful decisions, to deprive a child of biblical answers for life’s greatest questions, to deprive a child of the truth about how to be saved now and forever, to deprive a child of the knowledge that “Jesus loves me” (Galatians 2:20)—can cripple and irreparably harm a child, for now and eternity.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      God bless,
      James

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very good post. I am grateful for having parents and grandparents who taught me about God’s love and redemption through Jesus Christ. I truly believe that kids who come from a home where the Word of God is taught, and where the parents are doers of what they teach, have a better chance of avoiding many of the pitfalls of life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I absolutely agree with you about being raised in a Christian home.

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    • You said it correct, “the word is being taught and the parents are doers of what they teach.” It’s so important that in a home where the word is being taught that parents are both hearers of the word and doers. So often parents teach their children to be religious rather than to follow Jesus and use their life to love and glorify him. As parents it’s important that we not only teach the word but also live what we say we believe. Nobody is perfect, so as parents we will make mistakes but when we do we have to learn to humble ourselves and make things right with our kidos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the comment.

        No one is perfect as parents and no one is perfect as Christians. I spent the last two months of last year teaching and studying the book of James and the part about being doers of the Word has been heavily on my mind since.

        I still fall short but I have been trying to practice what I preach for me, my kids, and everyone I interact with.

        God bless,

        James

        Like

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  1. Are Christians guilty of brainwashing their children? – Overcoming The Times

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