By Joel Hess –
Time and time again I hear a friend say with complete sincerity, “I don’t want to force my kids to go to church,” or, “I want my kids to choose what they want to believe in.” They brag about it as if it’s a badge of honor and an enlightened sign of good parenting.
We flippantly believe that we live in a postmodern age, yet this common attitude among Generation X parents has more in common with the modern or even early enlightenment age than Nietzsche or Warhol. Contrary to what some knee jerk conservatives preach, the postmodern age has blessed our culture with a couple timeless truths (yes, I recognize the ironic juxtaposition of truth and postmodern). One mantra of postmodernism is that it is impossible to NOT be brainwashed in our culture. It is impossible to not have or receive biases from parents etc. Everything a parent says or does AND everything she doesn’t say or do fills her little sponges with biases! Ugh!
By not making their kids go to church, let alone failing to teach them the faith, parents are teaching them something quite clear about church and Christianity! Even if mom teaches her child about every religion in the world and concludes, “you make the choice”, she is catechizing her student. One might even say that a parent is forcing their child not to be a Christian by allowing them to “make their own choice.”
Of course, I praise God every day, I was given no choice in the matter! Instead God chose me, forgiving my sins, giving me new life, freeing me of the old, and yes, brainwashing me to see things as He sees them.
In the end we are all brainwashed. Whether purposely or inadvertently, all flesh is catechized! We are not born blank slates contrary to the cute meme that is going around portraying two toddlers of different races hugging with the caption, “hate is taught.” Yeah right. Have you actually hung out with more than one toddler?
We are born with darkened hell bent souls, brains, and hearts. That’s not just Holy Scripture, that’s science. No child looks at the world from some blessed neutrality. Our instincts repel against love, peace, and God. All of us, from Mother Teresa to St. Paul, were born haters of Christianity. We needed our brains washed, freed, by Christ through His church.
Everyone has been brainwashed, taught about life, God, etc. All people from every tribe, ethnicity and language are militantly catechized by someone in one way or another. The question then comes down to – who brainwashed you? The One who died and rose again? Or someone with less stellar credentials?
Sadly, many Christian parents don’t quite get it. Yes, they bring their kids to church services. Great. They bring them even to extra events such as youth group, confirmation class, etc. Fantastic! God does His thing through His Word, period!
However, parents forget that they are an important part of the brainwashing. No of course they don’t have do it all. However, by not teaching their kids the faith at home, even a simple devotion and prayer, they are teaching their kids something about the faith – it only matters in a particular place and time. They will learn that pastors are supposed to take Christ and His gifts seriously, but not others. They will learn that in the “real” world Jesus is just a spectator. They will learn from the parents the opposite of what they learn from Jesus. They may grow up even saying, “my parents forced me to go to church so I don’t go now.” They will say that because the Christian faith felt like a place you have to go to, versus a reality in which mom and dad clung to Christ every day. It isn’t universities or T.V.s that are primarily causing twenty somethings to leave the church; it is parents who fail to teach their kids or even let them see the real life meaning of the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, and a God who loves them.
Yes, I brainwash my kids. So do you. So do it well.