Christian Faith and Your Teen

Monday and Wednesday I posted on parenting teens in an ungodly culture. If you haven’t read those blogs, I suggest you begin there.

To recap a little, parenting teens in this time in history is difficult is an understatement. We are facing unbelievable obstacles in raising our children to be godly in an ungodly world.

The teen years are now largely marked by irresponsibility. As a culture we have given this age group adult permission to play a lot and work a little. We have encouraged them not to take this time in life seriously in any way other than doing well in school.

Our teens face tremendous peer pressure, biblically known as fear of man, everywhere they go. They feel the pressure to conform and perform for their peers. As parents we really want our children to be known for their character, We assume the children of our friends share our morals and values and won’t lead our teens astray.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20 

Teens are faced with the dating dilemma even if your policy is no dating. If your Christian child goes to private school they are surrounded by peers who are most likely dating and prossibly having sex. You may soon be faced with the school dance problem, a date for prom, and the big football game. The Christian teen that does not have a pool of people to choose from for these kinds of events is lonely and often angry they can’t be like everyone else. They don’t care what 2 Cor. 6:14 says, they just want to go to homecoming like everyone else!

One of the most difficult situations we see in our counseling center is parents who come in just blown away by their teenager who begins spouting different beliefs about God and matters of faith. These are kids who would say they “got saved”  or “asked Jesus into their heart” can tell me all the “requirements” for salvation, can point to a time in their life where they prayed or walked an aisle and many would say they have been baptized too, but now they live like the unsaved.

It is important to understand that no matter how your teen claims to have gotten saved, if there is no evidence of regeneration in his or her life, if there is no fruit of that salvation, you would be wise to question if there has been a true and real conversion. Due to improper presentation of the gospel, I believe we have churches full of unconverted people trying to work out a salvation they do not even possess. They can tell you what you want to hear, however there is no life apparent. These are people who think they are regenerated, but in actuality may not be!

So many of our kids reveal through their lives that they have not ever truly made that transition from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-3). I fear many of us are delusional in our felt beliefs that our children are truly regenerated when so much of the evidence we see points elsewhere. The hard truth is that being a good Christian parent and raising them "right" guarantees nothing. No one is grandfathered into the kingdom of God, and no one chooses to enter without the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Each of our children must be drawn to God by God and then each of them must decide what they are going to do with this Jesus and the salvation He offers them. But what about Proverbs 22:6?

This verse does not support the view that Christian parents who “do it all right” are guaranteed children who will follow God. You can take them to church every Sunday and Wednesday, keep them away from unbelievers, secular music, television, movies and everything else and your children may still rebel and refuse to repent. There are plenty of diligent parents who have children that break their hearts

A better interpretation of Proverbs 22:6 is: “If you bring up a child in the way he is bent (as a sinner) when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This interpretation emphasizes the fact that children are born “bent toward sin.” Both the Darby and Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible support this view.
Our children have to make our faith their own. They must decide what theological truths they will accept and embrace. Will they become more Reformed or Catholic or Lutheran or Orthodox, or Armenian? Will they decide to believe that sign gifts are for today or that a person can "lose" their salvation?

Your beliefs may not be their beliefs!

In a study done by conservative Protestant churches it was revealed that “Nearly two-thirds say a person can be truly religious and spiritual without being involved in a church.”

As parents, we have to accept that our faith is just that- our faith. Our faith leads and guides our children while they are young, but there comes a time when that is just not enough, when our kids have to acquire their own faith with Jesus Christ. 

Our prayers may protect them and be used by God for seasons of their lives but we cannot promise them our salvation. This walk of faith is something each of our kids has to do alone, with the Lord.

At times it will be difficult to watch them sink under the murky waters of sinful decisions but that is what is sometimes needed for our kids to begin to see their need to grow and change. Their very trials and hardships and questions of faith will help them to better trust Him, even when their questions create more questions than answers and even when they come upon some very dark and lonely periods of time.

While our faith is a beautiful thing, it is no more useful to them than a precious and fragile china tea set. Nice to look at but impractical for our purposes. Real faith is grabbed with both hands and used like that travel coffee mug you may take with you each day. But even that mug is useless unless you fill it up and take it along.

The weight of the salvation decision is obviously great. It is what separates the sinner from heaven and hell.

If you want to help your child navigate these tumultuous waters of the teen years recognize that the issues facing you and your child are primarily heart issues.
They have an issue- perhaps a life dominating sin problem that has reached the point that they you as parents have to intervene. You have the opportunity to use their problem as a launch-pad for presenting the true gospel to them. 

May we never believe that we are enough for our children. May we never believe that our faith is enough for their salvation. May we never protect them from things that will bring them to regeneration through Christ Jesus.