What We Teach When We Don’t Teach

How You Are Different from a Turnip

A surprising number of parents tell me that they are afraid to “force” their children to worship with them, because then the kids might come to resent religion.

By this reasoning, children should not be “forced” to take baths for fear that they will come to despise cleanliness, “forced” to be gentle with smaller children for fear that they will come to hate kindness, “forced” to do their homework for fear that they will come to love stupidity, or “forced” to share family meals for fear that they will come to loathe the taste of food.

Faith is not the same thing as compliance, but compliance and imitation are how children learn everything.  Children do not naturally resent God or the worship of God.  What we find in the nature we share with Him is not an aversion but a longing:  As one of the Wisdom books says, He has “put eternity in their hearts.”  But to listen to that eternity they must be taught how to do so.  They must see us loving God.

I am flooded with gratitude that my parents and grandparents taught me well enough that after abandoning Him I knew how to return; vanquished when I reflect that when my wife and I did return, and began to worship regularly, our children, small then, were delighted.

Concerning the teachings of the faith, a certain late Bronze Age people were taught, “"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land.”