By Chris Donovant
Several years ago, my wife and I decided that we were going to begin adding children to our family. When that momentous day came (and the day I’m referring to the day she conceived), we became parents for the first time. Talk about a dose of reality! You can feel the weight on your shoulders. We knew from then to eternity that we were going to be parents. Until that point, we had only been on the other side of the coin, from the outside looking in. We didn’t know what to expect even though there are many books written by very prolific writers on this very subject, and a great amount of wisdom amassed. We knew our lives were about to change. 
The one thing that is certain about parenthood is that it’s a life-changing experience. This isn’t something that we should take lightly. For those of us who have conscripted ourselves into the Lord’s army and are the salt of the earth, we should be provoking the next generation to love and good works, and to preserve, just as salt does. We’ve only been given these little lives for a short while; we’ve got to make our time with them count. It is plain to see that it is a Biblical command for parents to teach their children constantly. Just look at the amount of time that was specified in Deuteronomy 6…all the time! Now comes the time where the rubber meets the road. What do we teach them? Well, the Bible of course! But how do we teach them? This is truly an age-old question. 
When our parents conceived us, do you think that they could foresee the problems that we would be facing today? Maybe some of the problems, yes, but by and large the specific problems prevalent today such as homosexuality, the attack on the home and family, or the rise of political correctness (where we can’t offend any, but every angle of attack on Christianity is acceptable) were not considered. For this reason it is important for us to teach and, dare I say, indoctrinate (1 Timothy 4:6) our children with the very fundamentals the Creator of this universe has given us. None of us would send our children out into the snow without being dressed properly (warm coat, mittens, and boots). Likewise, we would not send our children out into the summer heat dressed in the same attire. We must equip our children with the correct tools to face each battle. Early in our marriage, my wife and I found ourselves in a squabble of sorts, probably over some menial task like taking out the trash. I called my mother, thinking I would find some support on my position from her, but instead I got this gem of wisdom. She said, “I don’t want to hear something that will sway my thoughts and opinions of your wife in a negative way. You know what the Bible says regarding husbands and wives and solving problems. Now go and make the right decision.” 
Because we do not know what problems will arise in 15, 20, or 30 years from now and what they will bring to our children, we must instill in them now the value in making wise decisions. In our home, we make it a practice to never tell our children they are bad, rather that they have made a bad decision. We tell them that life is about making decisions, that there is always a right and wrong decision to be made. We make it plain to them the correct way and let them know that there are consequences, good or bad, based on the decision they have made. We teach them that when they make a decision, whether good or bad, they must live with the consequences. We instill in our children basic Christian principles such as faithfulness, obedience, truthfulness, leadership, and diligence. I think it is important to point out here for those of you who may think, “Well, he’s not teaching his children about baptism or the one church,” we can’t teach basic fundamental principles without teaching these things. For example, let’s say our characteristic for the month (and we change these monthly) is obedience. They will learn the whole month that we (“obey all the way”) always obey God. How can you teach obedience without teaching “what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) It all goes hand in hand. 
When we make blanket statements like “Christians shouldn’t dance” or “Christians shouldn’t go to the beach,” we know that isn’t always the case. I am not talking about situational ethics here. I am simply saying that when we hear our children tell a lie, we correct them because we know lying is always wrong, but when they are “dancing” in a silly way around the living room, we don’t stop them because we know they aren’t committing an act of the flesh (Galatians 5:19). It is when we teach them the “things such like” noted in Galatians 5:21 that the decision making process is introduced. There is no real freedom of choice because there is always a right and a wrong. There is no such thing as a half-truth, only whole lies. Why do you think Paul said we are either slaves to sin or righteousness (Romans 6:15-17)? From this, we can see the importance of our decision-making process and dealing with the consequences of our actions. 
James said, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this…to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Bear in mind that James was writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad who were arguably the most well read and indoctrinated generation of Jews. He didn’t say it with a list of specific mandates. He said to “keep oneself unspotted from the world.” That can only come from making sound, wise, and scripturally correct decisions. The importance of being able to weigh each decision one makes with a pure conscience can only be fueled by God’s Word (Romans 12:2, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
When we teach our children how to make good decisions, such as how to wisely choose a mate, we then eliminate things like homosexuality and casual sex by proxy. It has and always will be important to teach God’s Word wholly and without deduction, and as the times change our children will be faced with threats we haven’t conceived. One of the most important and basic scriptural facts is teaching our children to make wise decisions. As the writer of Proverbs said, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). 
In order to preserve Christianity’s light for generations to come, we can never neglect those principles that are pure and simple. For example, one day our family was at the church building, and my oldest son, 3, was playing in our supply room. While in the room, he found a toy hat, and left it lying in the middle of the floor, instead of returning it. One of the members who was in the room with him at the time asked him, “Aidan, did you leave that hat in the floor?” At first, his answer was  “no,” but when he was questioned again, “Aidan, are you telling a lie?” he confessed and said, “Yes, I am. Truth fears no questions.” When our monthly characteristic was on honesty, we had taught him the importance of always being truthful, and that “Truth fears no questions.” From this, he could draw the conclusion that “Even though initially I did wrong in leaving the hat in the floor, I still need to tell the truth.” We are admonished from the inspired writers of the New Testament add to ourselves and to teach fundamental principles (Titus 2:1-10; 2 Peter 1: 5-11). 
Allow me to share this example with you. An ordinary grinding wheel is usually comprised of silica and a bonding agent that holds it together while it spins at high rpms. An invaluable lesson taught to me years ago was the importance of “ringing” a grinding wheel. This means that before you turn the wheel on, you must tap it on the side to see what sound it will make. If it rings like a tuning fork, then it is in good condition. If it makes a hollow sound when struck, then the wheel likely has a crack or has been compromised in some fashion that may not be visible. If you were to turn on a grinding wheel that didn’t “ring” true, then you risk the wheel breaking and becoming seriously injured in the process. The same can be said for teaching our children the importance of making good decisions and weighing the cost of that decision. We can help them to “ring” situations to see if they sound the way they should. Our children may not have a specific verse that points to a specific scenario, but they will be able to know whether or not it sounds pleasing to the Lord. 
If we truly want to bring our children up in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), then we have to teach them the whole counsel of God. Let me leave with a verse well known to us all: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)
This article first appeared in the September 2012 issue of “Think” magazine