Parents compete for their children all the time. Me, I often find myself competing against TV programs that keep them preoccupied but teach them little. Or against junk food that keeps them happy now -- and hyper for short periods of time -- but ruin their appetites and, in small doses, ruin their health. Just last month, my wife and I shelled out almost $1000 AUD for Patrick's teeth (including four crowns). I was just thinking about how I have to compete against junk food (and TV ads for them) by being more creative in preparing good food for them. Then I rememebr some friends of mine, and many parents in today's postmodern world, who have no plans to raise up their children with solid, orthodox Christianity. They believe it is best to leave it up to their children to make decisions about their religious beliefs when they're old and mature enough to believe with conviction. That seems sensible to many. After all, children don't seem to "get" religion anyway. But something that always bugs me about that is that we parents have absolutely no problem with indoctrinating them in other areas. Reading. Writing. Maths. Coloring and other crafts. We force them to stop chewing on their crayons, or nibbling their sleeves or pillows or blankets. We force them into toilet training. We make them blow their noses with tissue. We make them wash their hands before meals. We make them go to school and do their homework. There are a lot of things we force them into, and they don't have a say. Our children need raising up. They don't get things by themselves. They need to be trained up because we are competing for their lives. Reason versus ignorance. Healthy living versus illness. Good food versus malnutrition. And yes, Christian faith versus whatever they encounter out there: New Age gnosticism, anti-Christian atheism, satanism, materialism -- if we don't train them up, they'll find their religion elsewhere, and they won't have had prior training to guide them.
Kids are sharp. They can see right through us. If we don't make our Christian faith an important part of their training and of our lives, they'll come away thinking that it isn't important, and does not have to be part of their lives. If we tell them that we want them to make that decision when they are old enough, we're telling them that it doesn't matter to us which one they choose. They'll come to believe that all religions (even atheism) are equally true. And if they're all true -- contradictions and all -- then nothing is true.