Don’t be an agnostic parent

Posted on February 6, 2014 · Posted in Gospel, Parenting

No, I am not taking about your faith. I am talking about your children’s faith. 


The Holy Spirit makes it clear that your children are born enemies of God. (Ephesians 2:1-3) He tells you your children were conceived in sin and come forth from the womb speaking lies. (Psalm 51 & 58) Romans is plain that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, that all people suppress the truth of God. (Chapters 3 & 1) The outlook for our children appears dark.


But take heart.  Paul’s word of encouragement to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 brings hope to families. Paul begins with urging fathers not to encourage anger in their children. Rather, he says children are to be raised in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The obvious implication is that if you do not use God’s discipline and instruction, you will provoke your kids to anger.


Another implication is that Paul is telling you as a parent not to be an agnostic with regard to your children’s relationship with God. One of the definitions of agnostic, according to Webster’s, is: “a person who does not believe or is unsure of something.” Thus, an agnostic parent would be one who is unsure about how he has instructed his children about God. 


In contrast we see Paul commanding that children are to be raised in confrontation with the word of God.  He is saying that a failure to confront children with God’s truth about how they are to live will provoke them to anger.


Someone is likely saying, “Okay, how did you draw that conclusion.” Good question. Here is the answer.


You remember that earlier in Ephesians Paul teaches that all of us, including children, are by nature objects of wrath. We followed the way of the flesh. Now he is commanding fathers to raise children in contradiction to the ways of their flesh. If you, as a parent, don’t confront your children with God’s truth you will make them angry. Still, doesn’t sound quite right, does it?


But, you see, it is right! Unless your children know the life-changing message of the gospel and all of God’s truth, they will continue to be at war with God, doing what they want by nature. They will be provoked to anger, strife and bitterness. It is in this ongoing confrontation that God chooses to mercifully make people, including children, alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-6) Does this mean that you can know that God will save your children because you speak the truth to them? No, it does not. Salvation belongs to the Lord, not to the will of men.


By doing what Paul says you will raise your children with God’s discipline and instruction. You won’t be perfect. But God is. You can know with certainty that you have presented God’s truth to your kids. You can know their relationship is in God’s hands. You can trust that whatever happens with your children, that God is a God of mercy and power. Don’t be an agnostic parent. Be a parent of hope, a parent who brings the power of the gospel to his children.



Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.