Too late, parents are discovering that just because THEY loved the Lord and THEY had faith and raised their children in a Christian home, there is no guarantee that their children will be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Faith and commitment to Christ is a personal choice that is no more automatic than learning Egyptian hieroglyphics. Children of the repentant must alone walk the road of humility and repentance to partake of the faith of their fathers.
The homeschool movement has produced over two million of the finest human beings that America has seen in recent generations. Parents took it upon themselves to provide their children with a premeditated and sometimes prefabricated culture based on Biblical principles. Every aspect of their lives is deliberate rather than accidental. They protected their kids from the world and from unsavory influences, even going to the extreme of restructuring their church or designing small home churches where associations and influences could be controlled, leaving nothing to chance. They took into account and provided proper socialization, instilled life skills, and acquainted their children with music, art, and the sciences. For them, virginity at the marriage altar has become the unquestioned norm.
A new generation of righteous, intelligent, productive youth have now matured into young adults and are having children of their own, passing along this revived Christian social order to its third generation. It is a take-charge, reinvent-cultural movement, the like of which has rarely been seen in history.
But results have been disappointing, even tragic, for some. A father wrote me, telling the sad story of how his homeschooled “Christian” son, eighteen years old, went off to a “Christian school” and after one year came home professing atheism. He had been “enlightened” with psychology, manuscript evidences, and philosophy. He had become sexually involved, approved of sodomy, and his choice of reading and viewing was pornography. He ridiculed the faith he seemingly held from his youth. This is one true story among an increasing number.
But it is not the apostates that concern me the most. They are like a pothole decorated with flashing lights; you know what you’ve got before you get to it, and what’s more, they know who and what they are. Having separated themselves from the family of faith, they will bear no further influence upon it. It is the nice homeschooled kids that have married well and still profess the faith of their fathers that most urgently command my attention, for they are entrusted with the responsibility of imparting the faith to the next generation. I am concerned for the many who are religious, but lost. There are young men contending for special creation and a young earth, able to argue doctrine and stand up for the unborn; they have adopted devout practices of self denial like not dating and abstaining from sinful movies and immoral entertainment, but I fear there are some among them whose religion is no deeper than their pride.
We have received many letters telling of marriages that were perfectly executed but turned out to be hell. Two devout Christian families agree upon a union between son and daughter. Both are exemplary Christians. They patiently go through some form of courtship or betrothal—a model of this new culture—and then they are wed in joy and thanksgiving. It would make you cry if I told you the horrid stories of the day after. The guy was queer, never had sexual intercourse with his wife—just enjoyed himself. Or, the guy was mean, emotionally cruel, controlling and totally selfish. Many, so very many, husbands won’t work—lazy.
We get letters telling of new wives who are repulsed by copulation. They curl up in disgust at the thought of giving themselves in an act that is so “dirty.” Other girls are emotional wrecks, making demands, never satisfied. They use their emotional weakness to become controlling or manipulative. Bitterness eats away at their souls, leaving them in emotional and spiritual tatters. Far too many young men are already secretly addicted to pornography and self-stimulation. The girls are caused to feel like useless, ugly rejects. Where did that veneer of Christianity go? I provide these examples to make this point: Not all is real that acts real. Not all “Christians” are God-fearing, sin-hating, repentant, Jesus-loving, born-again disciples of the Man from Galilee. Not all homeschoolers are genuinely planted in this fabricated Christian culture. One day, when the opportunity is right, most of the fakes will take the exit ramp to the pleasure of their choice, but some will persevere in the veneer of religion until they have reproduced their kind in the next generation.
Why do I say all of this? What gives me the right to judge? I judge no one in particular. I know not a man’s heart, nor can I discern the motives of his actions. But the many incidences of sudden infidelity and the almost visible, slowly-eroding apostasy leave me no choice but to assume that there are yet many fake Christians in our young ranks. I know them not until they declare themselves with their words or actions. It is like one of those old movies I saw years ago, where human bodies were taken over by aliens. After having several of your friends suddenly turn out to be evil aliens in disguise, you start wondering about every ordinary-looking person you meet. Who is real? Who can you trust? The answer is frightening: no one!
When I was sixteen and seventeen years old, in our church there were seven of us “preacher boys.” We were the ones who took turns preaching in the youth revivals and sometimes filled the pulpit when the preacher was away. We were a zealous lot, preaching on the streets and witnessing to everyone we met. We had prayer meetings that lasted all night. Most of our Friday night youth meetings, with about 100 in attendance lasted three hours or more. We got together and preached, prayed, and sang until at least half of the crowd was crying and the other half was shouting, and then we knew we had been to church.
We preacher boys grew up, graduated from high school and all went off to Bible college. By the time I graduated, of the seven original preacher boys, one turned out to be a queer, one married, pastored a church, and then left his wife for another woman. One became an atheist. One just sank into marginal belief. Three out of the seven continued in the ministry—a pretty good average from back then.
I remember a camp meeting we had one time. It was glorious. The preacher that night was pastor of a church of about 400. He preached on the cross. His oratory took us to Gethsemane where we saw our sin being laid on the sinless Son of God. We followed him to observe the beating that Jesus endured on our behalf. Then we saw the procession to Golgotha where we watched and listened as Jesus died for each one of us individually. But then the preacher’s words led us to the tomb, where we rejoiced in the glorious resurrection. And, after about one and half hours, everyone there knew that there was only one way to heaven and that the door was open that night. My seventeen-year-old brother was saved that week. I can still see him running out of the meeting into the woods where he fell upon his face in the pine needles and “prayed through.” He came back into the meeting to join about 40 others who publicly testified of being saved that night. The next two hours were filled with testimonies, songs, and praise. That noisy crowd of Southern Baptists would have made a Pentecostal feel like a Lutheran.
Now, I am not just reminiscing in telling you that story. Because, about a year later, that pastor who preached that marvelous message that night, stood up before his church to confess that he had never really known God himself. He told how he became a preacher because he was gifted with words, but he never had peace with God. He hoped that preaching and leading others to Christ would give him peace, but it never had. That Baptist preacher testified of how he later spent two days alone seeking peace with God before he experienced simple child-like faith in the finished work of Christ. He who had preached so many into the kingdom had finally taken the step of repentance and faith in the Christ he had preached about for so long. He had deceived himself and others for 15 years while he was having great success as a fervent preacher of the old-fashioned soul-saving gospel. You might be asking: How could people be saved under the ministry of an unsaved man? The answer is so clear from Scripture. It is not the man who saves anyone; it is Christ alone. Just because a donkey carried God’s message to Balaam, it did not add to or take away the power of God’s message to that man. A Bible printed by a sinner is just as good as one printed by a saint.
As I come back to our present society and compare it with the fervency of the past, I am shocked at the spiritual vacuum I see in Christian homes. Parents take it for granted that their kids are now safe from the world. For them, the battle is won. After all, the kids have two saved parents and are being raised in a protected Christian environment. Consequently, the family lives in a “kick-back, take-it-easy, the-battle-is-over” lethargic attitude. It is one of the four signs of the end times (Matthew 24:7).
I know the past of some of these relaxed parents. Many of them are first generation Christians. It seems so long ago that they were sinners, grappling with fleshly addictions. Some will testify of their college days when they experimented with different spiritual approaches, called themselves agnostic for awhile, sought answers in psychology while trying hard not to believe in anything bigger than themselves. But along came a group of committed, loving Christians bearing witness to a resurrected Savior, and they alone out of many dark souls believed the good news and entered into the life of freedom from sin and fear. Here they are fifteen years later, thankful that their children are safe from the evil that enslaved them. But are they safe? Only if evil is external, environmental, bad influences, or stupidity. But please believe me, Christian parent: sin is closer than that. Like an undetected and undiagnosed disease, every child is infected with a killer within, just waiting for the right passion to multiply itself and metastasize into a lethal plague that swells the flesh to grotesque proportions and eats the spirit until it shrivels in fear and guilt.
Every new generation is as lost and undone as Adam was the day after he sinned. When you hold that little one for the first time, innocent and without blame, pure and lovely in every way, it is hard to imagine that you are holding a soul that is hurtling hell-bent into a dark eternity. Every child is born with a propensity to indulge the flesh, and soon develops a mind to promote self before virtue. Training and environment will certainly enable the child to grow up with the ability to regulate passion, to act in a cultured and disciplined manner, but no amount of external training or influence is going to change the soul of Adam’s race. That takes a new birth, which is something entirely different from religion, and has nothing to do with applying Christian principles.
In order to achieve that “new birth”, the Bible demands that we repent and believe the gospel, at which point God does a supernatural work of regenerating the estranged soul, placing us into the kingdom of holiness and obedience. Religion is commutable. Culture, ritual, and habit can be instilled in the young and perpetuated generation after generation, but repentance comes as a life crisis, a denial of self, a surrender of will, that comes with preferring God over the flesh. Good kids, well-trained kids, must be born again, otherwise their righteousness will be just like that of the Scribes and Pharisees, outwardly beautiful, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27-28).
I am writing this article out of my concern for the next generation. I see an increasing trend toward pleasure-centered lives, unconcern for the Spirit’s leading, and doctrinal indifference. Just the other day, I asked a five-year-old from a prominent Christian family if she remembered the shepherd David killing the lion and bear? She looked blank, so I expanded the clues, “You know, King David who killed the giant, Goliath, with just a sling. Do you remember the giant?” She responded enthusiastically, “I know the SpongeBob giant.”
I was raised on Bible stories. I truly feared God when I was five years old. When I was seven or eight and my older cousins gave me the opportunity to indulge in depravity, I declined out of fear of God and a respect for the worthy righteousness he represented. I knew the character and desires of God from the stories my parents read to me every single night. I saw my daddy each evening, reading his Bible by the light of a kerosene lantern. My grandmother always had her Bible opened to the last place she had been reading, her glasses opened and lying over the print. She didn’t read just once a day; she read the Bible all day long, returning to it in quiet moments between chores.
We were in church several times every week. Five times each year we spent an entire week in meetings. If there was one commandment my daddy perfectly obeyed it was, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Hebrews 10:25). In every church meeting, sin was damned and righteousness exalted. Life was a serious contest between light and darkness. You were either on one side or the other. The spirit world controlled by the Devil was not evening entertainment to be viewed on the flashing screen; it was the enemy of our souls to be avoided at all cost. We took seriously the verses that told us to resist the Devil.
There was no television back then—not where we lived. Going to the movies was a sin. Dancing was a sin. Making out was a sin. Immodest dress was a sin. Country music and rock music was a sin. But we now live in more understanding and tolerant times, and our children are going to hell faster than they can be processed.
Christian parents and homeschool parents are more relaxed now, put off-guard by the success of their lifestyles. “Yes, Ma’am, No, Ma’am, Thank you, May I” sounds like they came from a former era when all was well, but depravity cannot be long contained by social customs and good manners.
Although I am greatly concerned for these first generation homeschool kids (second generation Christians), it is the third generation Christians now being born that really cause me to tremble. I look at these beautiful young children and wonder how many of them are going to reach maturity in purity. Pornography will very likely get over half of them. Their minds and thought life will be molded by ever worsening flashing digital media. Their relaxed, pleasure-seeking, second-generation Christian parents take it all for granted. At least their parents (first generation Christians) came out of a life of sin and were somewhat on guard against evil. They worshipped God with a memory of the mire from which they were redeemed. But the new parents have never been to war with the Devil, never been wounded in battle, and do not know the peril that awaits their children. These “greenhouse” Christian parents think that because it worked out well for their parents, it will by default work out well for them. After all, they are good Christian parents; why shouldn’t their kids turn out to be radiant believers as well? Because those lovely children are carriers of a genetic predisposition to a disease called sin. And historically, third generation Christians are religious, but lost.
I’ve likely alarmed you, and you are now asking, “What can I do to guarantee that my children (or my grandchildren) become real, born-again Christians?” Go back and walk in the old paths with them. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). First and foremost, you must become a Spirit-filled believer, daily rejoicing in the blessing of God, giving praise and honor to him in the presence of your children. You must manifest the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Your children must see your compassion and justice. They must see your abhorrence of sin. But most importantly of all, they must be raised on the Bible stories, not children’s Bible stories, but real adult Bible stories of law, sin, judgment, repentance, faith, heaven and hell. Reality. Don’t raise your children to live in a make-believe world…teach them TRUTH. Then they will walk in truth, and you will “have no greater joy than to hear that [your] children walk in truth” (3 John 4), instead of grief. Instill a Biblical reality. You cannot expect one or two hours at church each week to feed their spirits any more than you would trust two meals per week to feed their bodies. They will become what you daily feed them. Give them one hour of TV per day, followed by one hour of Bible teaching, or visa versa, it doesn’t matter. You should expect the TV worldview to win. It is a better communicator than you are.
Children need three square meals of Bible stories every day. You don’t need to sit down and read a book or arrange some formal religious event. Recount the truths of God in conversation all day long. Deliberately cause them to know the Bible from beginning to end, so that when an important issue comes up, you can draw upon those events to illustrate any point you need to make. They should be caused to view the world through God’s Bible glasses. This is not indoctrination. This is acquaintance with the greatest source of philosophical and moral truth the world has ever seen. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:15, 16).
Much more can be said or should be said, maybe in the next issue. Share your concerns with me by email or a letter. Every letter is read; many are answered, and many are filed for future reference. We are careful not to reveal your identity. When we publish letters, the identifying details are changed to protect the source.