6 Keys to Raising Kids Who Aren’t Ashamed of Being a Christian

6 Keys to Raising Kids Who Aren't Ashamed of Being a Christian | Christian Mom ThoughtsIn my last post, I provided an overview of the six major views on evolution and creation. On the Facebook page for this blog, I shared the corresponding flow chart I made to go with the post. The photo upload of the flow chart went “viral” in the last few days…amongst atheist groups.

Within a few hours, it had reached over 26,000 people and received 272 comments – many of which were personal attacks against me and/or the intellectual level of Christians. Not every atheist engaged in such insulting ways, but these kinds of attacks dominated the thread.

I want to share a sampling of the commentary here. I debated doing so because I don’t want to give such comments more “air time.” However, I wanted to write about shame as it relates to being a Christian today and these comments couldn’t provide better context for the discussion that follows.

  • “Yeah facts and rational thought isnt very important for these crazies”
  • “Poor woman, she is obviously in dire need of psychiatric care …”
  • “Intelligent and religious are mutually exclusive. There is no god. End of debate.”
  • “Please, don’t tell me people actually believe this.”
  • “Christian Mom needs to go back to school and ACTUALLY LEARN SOMETHING. What tripe.”
  • “Debating a Christian is impossible. They rely on “Faith” (fantasy) where an Atheist relies on evidence. Where there is no evidence in the existence of some supernatural deity, there can be no actual debate as debates rely on facts and evidence to create a point of view.”
  • “If your children are smart, they will ask for proof… unless you already brainwashed them to the point they won’t DARE ask why out of fear that some imaginary sky being will torture them for eternity for asking such a simple question.”
  • “Having a hard time keeping your crazy straight? Try our new simple to use “how stupid are you” chart.”
  • “Public schools failed you, yet another reason to support separation of church and state.”
  • “I’m mortified that these ignorant creatures and I are of the same species.”
  • “Wow. Look how easy it is to make a graphic chart, all the better to brainwash another generation of religious, non-thinking drones.”
  • “Remember, folks, these people are breeding! Why does this woman have a page anyway? Whatever happened to women keeping their mouths shut?”
  • And in a private message to my page: “Perhaps you shouldn’t make slanderous charts in an attempt to validate your barbaric philosophies. Your page is being reported for slander. Congratulations.” (I resisted the temptation to explain to this person that charts can’t slander theories.)

This is the world our kids will be immersed in as they grow up in the “internet age:” a world of free-flowing attacks against Christianity behind the veil of (near) anonymity.

If I could summarize the approach underlying most of these responses, it would be an attempt to shame – either to shame me personally or Christians in general. Shame by definition is “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace.”

In other words, the root of shame is feeling inadequate.

So what can we do to prepare our kids’ faith for confidence rather than shame, in light of the types of attacks they are likely to face?

Give them the specific training they need to feel (more than) adequate in such exchanges.  

Here are 6 keys to doing so.

 

1.    Proactively talk to your kids about varying views.

If we only teach our kids about Christianity – ignoring what other beliefs exist and why people have them – they will have no basis from which to evaluate the claims of others or to defend their own claims. If all they have to offer in a conversation (hostile or not) is silence because they feel inadequate to respond, shame is the natural result. Don’t wait until these issues arise before you address them. We just started talking to our kids about why other people don’t believe in God last week – at ages 4 and 2.

 

2.    Acknowledge that Christians don’t have all the answers (and neither does anyone else).

According to various surveys, one of the most common perceptions people have about Christians is that we think we have all the answers. I understand how people can come to that conclusion, as Christians often feel the need to put on airs of bravado to compensate for answers they don’t have. That leaves kids thinking they should have all the answers too. If they grow up thinking that truth depends on having a tidy answer to every difficult question, shame will be the natural result when non-believers pose questions no Christian can answer with certainty. Make sure your kids know from the very beginning that the Bible doesn’t give us all the answers we would like…but that non-believers don’t have all the answers either.

 

3.    Welcome the opportunity to address doubt.

I’ve never met a Christian who claims to have no doubts. But I never had even one adult in my life growing up actually tell me that Christians experience doubt, or address how to handle it if doubt arose. Once again, if you grow up to experience something (in this case doubt) that you think shouldn’t happen, shame starts to emerge. If your kids express doubts or ask questions with skepticism, praise the Lord for the opportunity to be the one to help them grow deeper in faith!

 

4.    Teach the Bible at home.

I’ve said it many times on this blog, but I will say it again: fewer than one in ten Christian families read the Bible together each week, and that is a huge problem. Our kids simply will not learn the Bible at the depth necessary to feel confident in a world hostile to believers if their only exposure to it is in Sunday school. There may be nothing more important for faith development than studying the Bible with your kids. If you aren’t doing that right now, consider why and make the change.

 

5.    When you teach the Bible, don’t leave out the tough parts.

Non-believers commonly see the Bible as inaccurate, irrelevant, contradictory, disproven by science and lacking credibility because of its supernatural claims. It’s really very easy to pull verses from the Bible to support such a view point, unfortunately. In the view of the non-believer, examples “promoting” slavery, rape and child sacrifice abound (especially in the first five books). Some of these verses are tough. But do you really want your kids to hear about them the first time from a non-believer? It’s wonderful and important to teach kids about all the “positive” parts of the Bible, but we absolutely cannot hide from the tough parts.

 

6.    Teach apologetics.

Apologetics means “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” Now more than ever our kids need to live up to 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” There are numerous resources online for Christian apologetics, which offer such “reasoned arguments” for common questions. I’ll be discussing these more in future posts.

Giving our kids a background in apologetics is a gift to their faith. It’s the gift of confidence – the knowledge that they are more than adequately prepared to defend their faith, so they can say with Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

What “tough questions” about Christianity would you like to see covered in future posts?

17 Comments

  1. Martha Orlando on June 4, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Wow, Natasha, I am so glad I signed up for your blog! You express yourself so beautifully and are truly a defender of the faith. Your children are so fortunate to have you as a mom, that’s for sure.
    The nasty comments you endured simply for expressing your personal beliefs is horrid, but not unexpected. How can those who don’t believe in God or know anything of His love be loving toward others? Or, carry on a decent dialogue? They can’t. On top of that, instead of presenting their own “facts” and why they believe these to be true, they hurl insults and take cheap shots. We certainly do need to prepare ourselves for battle as this world hates us just as Jesus said it would.
    Thanks for this post today!
    Blessings!



    • Natasha Crain on June 5, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Thank you so much, Martha, for those kind words! I am very grateful for the encouragement. It was really hard to not jump in and reply to every nasty comment, but I didn’t because – as you said – there is no way to carry on a decent dialogue when that is the starting point. That inspired the post, because only at this point in my faith, where I do feel very prepared to respond, would I not feel shamed by such attacks. I can avoid commenting back because I know I am perfectly capable of responding when decent dialogue ensues.



  2. Jenn D on June 4, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Great post. I wanted to say first that I loved the chart, it showed me different ‘levels’ of creationism that I really appreciated. I also wanted to say that since giving my life over to Christ 4 or 5 years ago, I find myself living as a ‘closet christian’, and worse a ‘closet homeschooling christian’. I will be reading these posts carefully, not just for myself but especially for my children. Thank you for being a source of light for me in this world.



    • Natasha Crain on June 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      I’m so grateful for your kind words, Jenn, thank you! If you feel you’re a “closet Christian,” I would encourage you to identify what keeps you in the closet. If it is uncertainty, seek answers and understanding on the key points of that uncertainty. If it’s a feeling of distance from God, make a plan to pray more. If it’s not knowing what to do with the Bible, make a plan to read more. And so on. When you get your arms around the “why,” you will be able to come out. 🙂



  3. Greg Kennon on June 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    When I send emails to my Bible study group, I end with “prepare for battle”. Being a Christian is a constant battle. The attacks come from every direction. Preparing our children is one of the most important things that we can do for our children. You do a really excellent job of putting information together. I look forward to reading more on the apologetics topic. My favorite apologetic speaker is Ravi Zaccharias. I am sure I have misspelled his last name, but if you get a chance to look him up, you will be glad you did. I have learned a lot from him. (And you too) Thanks!



    • Natasha Crain on June 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Hi Greg, Thanks so much for the comment and kind words! I’m glad you’re looking forward to more on this topic. I definitely know of Ravi Z (I’ll not attempt to spell his last name!), but I haven’t read much from him specifically. I’ll check out more of his books! I think my husband is reading one by him now.



  4. Rosann on June 4, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Sweet sister in Christ, all I have to say is “Thank you!” Thank you for researching and writing on such an important and valued topic. I am so sorry (and a little sick to my stomach) about the awful hate-filled comments you’ve been facing. Just know the good is that you’re standing strong for your faith and people are taking notice. Keep on keeping on. (((Hugs)))



    • Natasha Crain on June 5, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Hi Rosann, You are always such an encouragement to me – THANK YOU for that and your friendship!
      For those reading these comments, be sure to check out Rosann’s blog at christiansupermom.com. She has an amazing way to encourage Christian moms and will be releasing a new book soon!



  5. Daniel Christensen on June 5, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Natasha, very good applications. Thank you.

    As I was reading the comments your received, I was also thinking of Romans 1 but in relation to unbelievers. Romans 1:21 says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). Paul goes on to say they are “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Rom. 1:31). Sometimes we, meaning Christians, think that being “nice” is the ultimate virtue, when it’s far more important to be biblical. In their current state, these “mockers” (Prov. 14:9) are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. That is God’s Word concerning them.

    I still hold that our greatest apologetic as Christians is love and that we should of course pray for these people and look for opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. But let us understand who we are dealing with – I convinced that most atheists don’t disbelieve in God; I think they have a faint knowledge of His existence and they hate what they know with great passion.

    Lastly, let us remember Luke 6:22-23 which reads, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”



    • Natasha Crain on June 5, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Hi Daniel, This is such an important insight: “Sometimes we, meaning Christians, think that being “nice” is the ultimate virtue, when it’s far more important to be biblical.” Because it’s so easy to fear people mocking us, it’s a lot easier to be a Christian with private beliefs who focuses on being “nice” outwardly. But being a follower of Christ isn’t about being nice or good. It’s first and foremost about believing in him, with a changed life being the outcome of that belief. I think that’s why so many people in surveys say Christianity is “mostly about doing good.” We’ve accepted our beliefs as something private – a pure opinion – and only show the world our actions. Our greatest apologetic IS love (great point) – the problem is when we go no further with it to bring people back to Christ.

      Thanks for all your great insights on the blog.



  6. Jen on June 6, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Well, thanks to those posts, you were able to write an extremely timely and very helpful blog entry. Thanks so much for giving me something to think about. We often feel that we are doing enough by teaching our children about The Lord but you’re right, it’s not enough in this time of persecution. I will be adding these topics to my conversations with my kids. Isn’t it great that what Satan hoped would be a victory for himself The Lord used for good? Gotta love when you catch Him doing that!! 🙂



  7. the fox on June 7, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Sorry to hear you’ve had some frightful reactions to your previous post. I for one (and I know of many) found it insightful, helping me to reorganise my thought on evolution. As a christian, a scientist and a teacher I found it extremely helpful.

    Keep strong. Its hard preparing our children to be strong in their emergent faith in the face of so much hostile opposition.



  8. Buckledae on June 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Amazing post!! Thank you for being such a Godly inspiration and withstanding the verbal onslaught you receive. I pray you keep up the good work and continue to be a reflection of true Christian love.



  9. […] went viral to more than 26,000 people this summer after being shared amongst atheist groups. Comments such as, “I’m mortified that these ignorant creatures and I are of the same species” and […]



  10. lisa herrera on October 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    This is pretty much what you can expect from unbelievers. And it will continue to get worse as time goes by.
    I have been “blasted” many times for speaking the Truth of the Gospel. Thank you for standing strong!



  11. Heather B on August 28, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Amen! This is great. You are right on. Even as I attend hard-core Bible studies, resoundingly, even mature Christians themselves feel inadequate. Also resoundingly, they want to not be that and most certainly don’t want that for their kids. I’ve been reading a brand new Tony Evan’s book called “Raising Kingdom Kids: Giving Your Child a Living Faith,” and in it He says, “Give then the wisdom and the tools they need to understand what life’s challenges are and how to respond to them.” Just what you are saying. I think you would like this book. There is a free downloadable book preview on his website. I certainly highly recommend it! http://www.raisingkingdomkids.com



  12. Iris N. Irizarry on June 15, 2015 at 3:58 AM

    Thank you Natasha! That documentary was very interesting and very good! Thanks to you, I have a great idea of how to inform our kids at Sunday school about our faith. Thanks again!