Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kids and Legalism

I admit that I do not have all the insight into this issue but I thought I would address few things I have observed in the past on this topic – Injecting legalism in kids.
Many parents (among all the religions) struggle to put their kids in to the religious system they belong to. I think one reason they do this is because they think religion give their kids a moral basis for their character (I think most religious people care only about morality).
Christians are no exception as we can see most Christian parents want their kids to grow up in the denomination they belong to. I don’t blame them but what bothers me is that the amount of legalism they inject in to these little ones instead of telling them how much Jesus loves them no matter how they perform in their bible memorization, songs and prayers.

There are many who put lot of pressure on little kids to be religious such as participating in church activities, learning rituals, prayers, and bible versus etc.

The church I have been a part for while, there was even a competition among parents about whose kids are going to mug up and recite more bible versus. I admire their genuine desire to teach the 'Christian' way.
But I suspect if it is making a negative impact on the kids about the whole concept of religion and possibly hindering them to come to the reality of Christ’s love in the future. Parents try to bring even 3 year olds to the front of the congregation and ‘show off’ how much scripture memorization their kids can do. They ‘train’ little kids to sit through the boring sermons and brag about how disciplined their kids are. Sometime you get that look from many ‘proud’ parents while struggling to settle down your fuzzy one year old during the service. You even get many sympathetic advices on how you can teach your kids the ‘Christian’ way.

I have heard the pastor commending in public about kids who can recite many verses, say nice prayers, act ‘disciplined’ and kind of pricking on the parents who have less disciplined, less behaved kids.

I am looking forward for your comments on this. I am not an expert on child psychology but I think what we should be doing is to tell them in simple terms how Jesus loves them and probably show them the beauty and wonder of God’s wonderful creations around us instead of raising them arrogant, legalistic, religious Pharisees.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bino,
I agree with you regarding the tendancy parents have to show off how disciplined there kids are and how smart they are by showing off how many scriptures they can memorise. But I also believe that to an extend, it disciplines the children in a good way.
I personally wish and pray that I could make my 3 yr old memorise scriptures (not to show off), but for her to imprint in her heart that learning God's word is a part of life.
I really wish there parents do these things with the intention of helping their kids and not to show off and brag.
Good that you brought this issue up. Keep doing what you are doing.God bless you.

lydia joy said...

Excellent post! I believe you have raised an important issue...I agree that parents struggle with how to raise their children for the Lord, and impose law and morals on them as they do on themselves...because they seek to find some sort of control, rather than relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to help them train up their children. I say this coming from personal experience...anyway, we are no longer seeking to set laws and rules for our kids, but teach them love and respect for each other. Marvel in how big God is and in creation...yes! I think alot of times we operate out of fear of what people think of us as parents based on our children's behavior, so we get uptight with them in ways we don't necessarily want to because of other people's criticisms, comparisons, and judgements!
there is nothing wrong with memorizing scripture, however I believe if our kids hear our joy in our Saviour and hear our prayers and our own recitation of Scripture, it will leave an imprint on their hearts.....and when they come to a salvation of their own, God says he will write his law on our hearts......keep on preaching the Love!! God is so Awesome, tell them about Him!!

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Thank you for taking time to comment on this issue. Thank you for your encouragement as well.
I am not really against kids memorizing the scriptures. What I was addressing was the motive of parents behind it. I think we should be teaching kids scriptures which will certainly have a great impact on their future Christian life.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Thank you for the thoughtful comments.
I agree with you that lot of time we operate out of fear of what other think of us and our kids. We tend to control them. By the way I am not against disciplining kids. I think parents should discipline them. But that shouldn't sow the seeds of Phariseesm in them. As a person who still struggle to shake off religion from my life, I don't want my kids to be 'religious' (legalistic).
Though they may be revealed to the Grace and Love of God later, it is a long struggle to shed it off.