It is a difficult thing to keep your faith as a young person in this world. I know. I am one, and even growing up in the church of Christ there were times when I had doubts and questions.

Here are the battles we face as young people today, from our perspective:

The skirmishing begins at an early age. We are quietly assaulted in our “science” classes with pictures of these really neat and exciting looking creatures called dinosaurs. We are then told that these creatures existed millions of years ago, and are now extinct. We came along only a few million years ago, and we are the product of chance, natural selection, and evolution. We are a big cosmic accident. Of course, adults are the ones telling us this, so we believe them. Adults would never give us the wrong information or lie, right?

The battles continue as we grow, as the culture around us tells us (based on a Darwinian point of view) that we need to be “tolerant” of other’s views and choices. No one way is the right way. Everyone has a right to their opinion and point of view. Everyone’s views are equal. Well, at least until my views (i.e., my Christian beliefs) aren’t the same as yours. Then mine are bigoted. I certainly don’t want to be a bigot. I should be more tolerant, right?

Then in our teen years we start to really become capable of complex thought, and the war is ready to be won or lost. It’s then that the “intellectual” reasons for accepting humanistic ideas over moral convictions become even more convincing to the mind of a young person. The Bible is an old book full of mistakes. Science is based on fact, religion is based on myth and legend. For that matter, “organized religion” as a whole is responsible for all kinds of evil and barbarous actions throughout history. Many terrible things have been done, and continue to be done in the name of a god. You have to be uneducated, superstitious, and downright silly to believe the Bible, right? I don’t want to be seen as silly, or uneducated. I’ll discard my faith now. I’ve outgrown God.

It’s scary, folks. Really scary.

I’m writing this because of an email I received this last week from a reader to my blog. Her young nephew, who grew up in the church, has recently decided that he is an atheist. She wrote to me asking for help. Now I certainly don’t think I’m the most qualified person to handle the situation. There are men in the church who have devoted their lives to researching and defending the Word of God from such attacks.

But from our conversation, I’ve come to realize that this young man’s mind is going to be very difficult to change. He didn’t decide to become and atheist overnight. It was a slow, methodical takeover of his thoughts that brought him to the point of disbelief.  For this reason, he likely won’t change his mind (again) overnight. It’s going to take some time

What Can We Do?

Thinking about him, his situation, and my responsibility to my own child to bring her up in the “training and the admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) made me rack my brain to think of some ideas. I can’t wait until my child has turned away from God to try to tell her these things. Here are a few things from my childhood which helped with my doubts and armed me for battle with Satan:

  1. Teach REAL Bible knowledge – In Ephesians 6:14-17 we read of the parts of the “armor of God.” This armor isn’t made to stand up in the corner of a room as a display piece. It’s the armor of warriors. The “shield of faith” and the “sword of the Spirit” are two notable parts of that armor’s makeup. Our faith (when it is strong) protects us from the “darts,” e.g., lies, that Satan hurls at us, and the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) helps us to fight back. But they have to be equipped with that armor! Faith comes from the study of God’s Word (cf. Romans 10:17). They can’t use the sword if they don’t have it strapped to their side, or in their hand! They can’t use the shield if it’s not fastened to their arm! Don’t be content to teach “moral lessons” and tell “Bible stories” to your children and hope for the best. Teach them to actually use, and to understand the Bible. Make memorization a vital part of their training (cf. Psalm 119:11). Equip them with REAL Bible knowledge.
  2. Teach Apologetics, the Defense of Faith – Teach your children to defend the truth with more than just “my preacher says,” or “my daddy says,” or “at my church we believe.” While those all may be true, they are not valid defenses. In 1 Peter 3:15, we read that we are to be ready to “give a defense” to everyone for our hope, and faith. That “defense” is to be understood as a “formal defense.” In other words, real reasons! Studies in Christian evidences and other apologetic topics are vital in today’s day and time.
  3. Encourage and Remind Them Constantly of the Fruits and Contradictions of Humanism and Atheism – Living an amoral life is not without its consequences (e.g. Romans 1:18, 26-27). Intellectual elitism and satisfaction, apart from God, lead only to heartache, emptiness, and difficulty on this earth, with eternal consequences to follow. Humanism and moral relativism are all about what is “good” for you and me in the moment. But where will our decisions take us later? What will the future hold? Show your children the real fruits of evil. Sin may be sweet and pleasurable for a time (cf. Hebrews 11:25) but it’s end is bitterness (Jeremiah 4:14-18) and death (James 1:14-15).

It’s War, Folks!

Satan is in an all out battle for the minds and hearts of our children (cf. Ephesians 6:11-13). He tries his best to make an impression on them from the age of their innocence, before they really step into the battle themselves. He tries to shift their priorities from an early age from the spiritual to the temporal. He wants to steal them away before faith ever has a chance to take root in their hearts.

One of a parent’s biggest fears is that someone will come into their home and steal their child in the night. Because of this, we as parents put locks on our doors and windows, and even security systems in our homes to help keep intruders out. We take every precaution to keep our children safe on this earth.

Parents, don’t leave your spiritual house unlocked because you haven’t taken the time or effort to adequately protect the minds of your children. Don’t let Satan sneak in through a window and steal the heart of your child. Lock the house down. Prepare for battle. Protect your child’s eternal soul, and help them learn to defend it on their own with the truth of God’s Word.

-Daniel Howell preaches for the  Metropolis Church of Christ in Metropolis, IL