How do we know everything in the Bible is true?
If we don’t sin in heaven, is God controlling us?
God doesn’t have a body. But Jesus is God, and Jesus has a body. So doesn’t God have a body? Where’s Jesus’s body now?
How can we know for sure Jesus rose from the dead?
My kids have asked each of these questions in recent months. They’re 5 and 7. Parenting might be the scariest thing I’ve ever signed up for.
God has entrusted a weighty task to parents: teach children truth. Passages such as Deuteronomy 11:18–21, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:4 compel us to be our children’s first source of wisdom, knowledge, and theology—a God-appointed calling that goes far beyond rehearsing a few Sunday school stories. As parents, we’re to form our kids with a holistic, biblical worldview. This is no small endeavor.
As I consider the health of many churches today, I fear we haven’t taken this calling seriously enough. When parents abdicate their role as teachers, systemic problems arise in our churches. So many grow up in the church without ever learning a solid defense of the faith. In their eyes, the church is a peddler of positive platitudes, not a custodian of objective truth. And driven by the lack of intellectually satisfying answers is an exodus of teens and young adults from many congregations.
For the sake of our children, we must honestly ask ourselves: Are we prepared to teach them? Can we explain the mystery of the incarnation, the complexities of God’s sovereignty as it relates to man’s responsibility, and our need for substitutionary atonement? How do we allow our children to feel the weight of sin without crushing their hearts? How do we point them to Christ?
Peter calls us to preparedness: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15).
As parents, our children will have questions about faith. We can study our Bibles, immerse ourselves in good teaching, read theological books, and devote ourselves to knowing Christ so that we may answer them well. Yet our teaching goes beyond having the right answers—we’re called to deliver truth, Peter says, with gentleness and respect. Gentleness gives our children room to think, question, and disagree with us. Respect requires us to offer truthful, thoughtful, and helpful answers to their questions. The task is daunting, to be sure. And yet, Peter assures us, the labor is a way to honor the Lord.
One afternoon I watched my daughter excitedly planning an imaginary wedding with her best friend. Without warning, the whimsical game stepped out of the realm of make-believe and into the reality of moral truths as she turned and asked me point blank, “Can two girls get married?” I hesitated. I wasn’t expecting the question.
But it struck me that this was a golden opportunity to teach her how to evaluate information. Rather than avoid the topic out of awkwardness, we investigated what the Bible teaches. We talked at length about the choices people make, the legality of marriage according to culture, the meaning of marriage according to Scripture, and love for every person created in God’s image. This conversation has been ongoing ever since and has promoted trust, deepened our relationship, and blessed us both with truth.
Parenting is more art than science, more relationship than rules. We don’t often arrange the moments that will most influence our children’s lives. Helping their minds and hearts mature therefore becomes a dance of love, prayer, and wisdom—a dance that fluctuates through different seasons of growth. The unpredictable nature of our interactions should motivate our pursuit of intellectual preparedness, not excuse our lack of it.
Let us, as followers of Jesus, commit to loving him with all our minds. And let us, as parents, commit to intellectually engaging our children as God commands.