I belong to a progressive rock Facebook group. Progressive rock, if you are unfamiliar with it, is a style of hard rock or heavy metal that relies on an almost symphonic approach to writing music. In that group someone posted the above meme, which is a parody of something I’ve been hearing from my peers since I first started getting serious about my faith in high school back in the 80’s. And for what it’s worth, the correct answer is Dream Theater!
The original sentiment is about faith, and reflects the attitude of people who “don’t want to force their religion on their children.” This may sound like a good idea, and I suspect that even some people reading this right now would agree with this approach to parenting. It seems very open-minded, and places trust in our children to make good decisions. Unfortunately, this approach to religious instruction is highly flawed.
During the time when the sentiment became popular, and still to this day, “forcing” your religion on someone was considered a rather heinous crime. Most would agree that actually forcing your religion on someone is indeed a bad thing. Unfortunately our current culture tends to define “forcing” as any type of attempt to share your faith, proselytize, or evangelize. That is, of course, the first flaw in this approach to parenting. Teaching your children to believe what you believe is not “forcing” your religion on them. Your children will still have plenty of opportunity to be exposed to other beliefs and ideologies, and will indeed, at some point, come to their own understanding of their faith and belief.
Second, if one truly believes that Jesus Christ is the way of salvation for all people to find forgiveness of sins and experience new life (John 14:6), why would you not want that for your children? Why would you not want to do everything you could to make sure they experience that same gift? Indeed, as Christians, we are called to “make disciples” (Matt 28:19). That command certainly applies to our own children, with whom we have the closest relationship of anyone, and for whom we are morally and legally responsible.
The third flaw is perhaps the biggest of all. This parenting ideology assumes that if you do not teach your children what to believe, that they will experience every other competing ideology and belief system on an equal footing and then be able to make a completely neutral and informed decision. But that is simply not true! If you do not teach your children what to believe, rest assured, SOMEONE ELSE WILL, even if that someone is simply the barrage of images they get from the media. By refusing to teach your children, you are abrogating your responsibility as a parent and turning that responsibility over to the rest of the world. And what the rest of the world teaches is, for the most part, contrary to Christ (1 John 5:19).
So, teach your children what you believe, why you believe it, and that they should believe it too. Do that especially, when it comes to the truth about Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.