I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents who are members of churches say to me:
I intentionally never discuss theology or religion with my children, because I want them to believe whatever they come to believe honestly and not because they’ve been indoctrinated by us in the home. I don’t want them to be slaves to a parental tradition. I want them to experience reality on its own terms and come to whatever conclusion they are drawn from the evidence.
Such sentiments mystify me because they are at such odds with the teaching of Scripture. Just consider Deuteronomy 6:4–9:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
What I find remarkable about this text is how closely it places the mandate to teach our children to what Jesus calls the greatest commandment, namely, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (v. 5; see Matt. 22:36–40). There is no commandment more important than to love our Creator, but what’s the very next command in Deuteronomy 6? That the law of God is to be on our hearts and taught to our children. The divine mandate is that parents should teach the Lord’s commandments to their children. Not that the parents should send their children somewhere else to learn these things, but the responsibility is given to the parents.