What are some reasons Christian parents practice the indoctrination of children?
Indoctrination means to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments: to teach. There are two basic reasons Christian parents teach their children the fundamentals of their faith. First, the Bible commands it and second, Christians believe it's in their children's best interest.
Education is valued and promoted in both the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 4:9 says, "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children." Parents were told to teach their children about the things God had done. Deuteronomy 11:19–20 talks about using every opportunity throughout every day to teach our children about God and His ways saying, "You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" The "them" in these verses refers to God's words (Deuteronomy 11:18). This emphasis on teaching children is continued in the New Testament in Ephesians 6:4 when it says, "… bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." So Christian parents believe God has commanded them to instruct their children in the rudiments of the faith.
Perhaps a more compelling reason Christians instruct their children is that parents believe teaching their children is actually in the children's best interest. Proverbs 16:20 says "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD" (NIV). Christian parents desire that their children prosper and be blessed. Proverbs 4:10–12 says, "Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble." Christian parents have found meaning and fulfillment in their faith as well as practical applications in their own lives and they want to pass on those benefits to their children. Of course, faith is a personal decision and parents can't force their children to believe, but by giving their children direct instruction in the faith they equip their children to make a decision for themselves.
The term "indoctrination" also implies acceptance without questioning or critical thinking. The Bible, however, strongly advises against this notion. First Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to "test everything; hold fast what is good." First John 4:1 says, "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits …" Second Peter 3:17–18 includes the warning to "… take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people …" Not even the apostle Paul (who wrote much of the New Testament) was to be believed blindly because the Bereans are praised in Acts 17:11 for having "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." The Bible teaches that critical thinking is necessary and that no teacher should be blindly followed or believed.
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