The Adventist Home


Chapter 54—Religion in the Family

Family Religion Defined—Family religion consists in bringing up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Every one in the family is to be nourished by the lessons of Christ, and the interest of each soul is to be strictly guarded, in order that Satan shall not deceive and allure away from Christ. This is the standard every family should aim to reach, and they should determine not to fail or to be discouraged. When parents are diligent and vigilant in their instruction, and train their children with an eye single to the glory of God, they co-operate with God, and God co-operates with them in the saving of the souls of the children for whom Christ has died.1 AH 317.1

Religious instruction means much more than ordinary instruction. It means that you are to pray with your children, teaching them how to approach Jesus and tell Him all their wants. It means that you are to show in your life that Jesus is everything to you, and that His love makes you patient, kind, forbearing, and yet firm in commanding your children after you, as did Abraham.2 AH 317.2

Just as you conduct yourself in your home life, you are registered in the books of heaven. He who would become a saint in heaven must first become a saint in his own family. If fathers and mothers are true Christians in the family, they will be useful members of the church and be able to conduct affairs in the church and in society after the same manner in which they conduct their family concerns. Parents, let not your religion be simply a profession, but let it become a reality.3 AH 317.3

Religion to Be a Part of Home Education—Home religion is fearfully neglected. Men and women show much interest in foreign missions. They give liberally to them and thus seek to satisfy their conscience, thinking that giving to the cause of God will atone for their neglect to set a right example in the home. But the home is their special field, and no excuse is accepted by God for neglecting this field.4 AH 318.1

Where religion is a practical thing in the home, great good is accomplished. Religion will lead the parents to do the very work God designed should be done in the home. Children will be brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.5 AH 318.2

The reason why the youth of the present age are not more religiously inclined is that their education is defective. True love is not exercised toward children when they are allowed to indulge passion, or when disobedience of your laws is permitted to go unpunished. As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined.6 AH 318.3

If religion is to influence society, it must first influence the home circle. If children were trained to love and fear God at home, when they go forth into the world, they would be prepared to train their own families for God, and thus the principles of truth would become implanted in society and would exert a telling influence in the world. Religion should not be divorced from home education.7 AH 318.4

Home Religion Precedes That in the Church—In the home the foundation is laid for the prosperity of the church. The influences that rule in the home life are carried into the church life; therefore church duties should first begin in the home.8 AH 318.5

When we have good home religion, we will have excellent meeting religion. Hold the fort at home. Consecrate your family to God, and then speak and act at home as a Christian. Be kind and forbearing and patient at home, knowing that you are teachers. Every mother is a teacher, and every mother should be a learner in the school of Christ that she may know how to teach, that she may give the right mold, the right form of character to her children.9 AH 319.1

Where there is a lack of home religion, a profession of faith is valueless.... Many are deceiving themselves by thinking that the character will be transformed at the coming of Christ, but there will be no conversion of heart at His appearing. Our defects of character must here be repented of, and through the grace of Christ we must overcome them while probation shall last. This is the place for fitting up for the family above.10 AH 319.2

Home religion is greatly needed, and our words in the home should be of a right character, or our testimonies in the church will amount to nothing. Unless you manifest meekness, kindness, and courtesy in your home, your religion will be vain. If there were more genuine home religion, there would be more power in the church.11 AH 319.3

Terrible Mistake to Delay Religious Instruction—It is a most grievous thing to let children grow up without the knowledge of God.12 AH 319.4

Parents make a most terrible mistake when they neglect the work of giving their children religious training, thinking that they will come out all right in the future and, as they get older, will of themselves be anxious for a religious experience. Cannot you see, parents, that if you do not plant the precious seeds of truth, of love, of heavenly attributes, in the heart, Satan will sow the field of the heart with tares?13 AH 319.5

Too often children are allowed to grow up without religion because their parents think they are too young to have Christian duties enjoined upon them.... AH 320.1

The question of the duty of children in regard to religious matters is to be decided absolutely and without hesitancy while they are members of the family.14 AH 320.2

Parents stand in the place of God to their children to tell them what they must do and what they must not do with firmness and perfect self-control. Every effort made for them with kindness and self-control will cultivate in their characters the elements of firmness and decision.... Fathers and mothers are in duty bound to settle this question early so that the child will no more think of breaking the Sabbath, neglecting religious worship and family prayer than he would think of stealing. Parents’ own hands must build the barrier.15 AH 320.3

From the earliest age a wise education in Christ's lines is to be begun and carried forward. When the children's hearts are impressible, they are to be taught concerning eternal realities. Parents should remember that they are living, speaking, and acting in the presence of God.16 AH 320.4

Parents, what course are you pursuing? Are you acting upon the idea that in religious matters your children should be left free of all restraint? Are you leaving them without counsel or admonition through childhood and youth? Are you leaving them to do as they please? If so, you are neglecting your God-given responsibilities.17 AH 320.5

Adapt Instruction to the Child's Age—As soon as the little ones are intelligent to understand, parents should tell them the story of Jesus that they may drink in the precious truth concerning the Babe of Bethlehem. Impress upon the children's minds sentiments of simple piety that are adapted to their years and ability. Bring your children in prayer to Jesus, for He has made it possible for them to learn religion as they learn to frame the words of the language.18 AH 320.6

When very young, children are susceptible to divine influences. The Lord takes these children under His special care; and when they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they are a help and not a hindrance to their parents.19 AH 321.1

Parents Jointly Foster Religion in the Home—The father and the mother are responsible for the maintenance of religion in the home.20 AH 321.2

Let not the mother gather to herself so many cares that she cannot give time to the spiritual needs of her family. Let parents seek God for guidance in their work. On their knees before Him they will gain a true understanding of their great responsibilities, and there they can commit their children to One who will never err in counsel and instruction.... AH 321.3

The father of the family should not leave to the mother all the care of imparting spiritual instruction. A large work is to be done by fathers and mothers, and both should act their individual part in preparing their children for the grand review of the judgment.21 AH 321.4

Parents, take your children with you into your religious exercises. Throw around them the arms of your faith, and consecrate them to Christ. Do not allow anything to cause you to throw off your responsibility to train them aright; do not let any worldly interest induce you to leave them behind. Never let your Christian life isolate them from you. Bring them with you to the Lord; educate their minds to become familiar with divine truth. Let them associate with those that love God. Bring them to the people of God as children whom you are seeking to help to build characters fit for eternity.22 AH 321.5

Religion in the home—what will it not accomplish? It will do the very work that God designed should be done in every family. Children will be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They will be educated and trained, not to be society devotees, but members of the Lord's family.23 AH 322.1

Children Look to Parents for Consistent Life—Everything leaves its impress upon the youthful mind. The countenance is studied, the voice has its influence, and the deportment is closely imitated by them. Fretful and peevish fathers and mothers are giving their children lessons which at some period in their lives they would give all the world, were it theirs, could they unlearn. Children must see in the lives of their parents that consistency which is in accordance with their faith. By leading a consistent life and exercising self-control, parents may mold the characters of their children.24 AH 322.2

God Honors a Well-ordered Family—Fathers and mothers who make God first in their households, who teach their children that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, glorify God before angels and before men by presenting to the world a well-ordered, well-disciplined family, a family that love and obey God instead of rebelling against Him. Christ is not a stranger in their homes; His name is a household name, revered and glorified. Angels delight in a home where God reigns supreme, and the children are taught to reverence religion, the Bible, and their Creator. Such families can claim the promise: “Them that honour Me I will honour.”25 AH 322.3

How Christ Is Brought Into the Home—When Christ is in the heart, He is brought into the family. The father and mother feel the importance of living in obedience to the Holy Spirit so that the heavenly angels, who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, will minister to them as teachers in the home, educating and training them for the work of teaching their children. In the home it is possible to have a little church which will honor and glorify the Redeemer.26 AH 323.1

Make Religion Attractive—Make the Christian life an attractive one. Speak of the country in which the followers of Christ are to make their home. As you do this, God will guide your children into all truth, filling them with a desire to fit themselves for the mansions which Christ has gone to prepare for those that love Him.27 AH 323.2

Parents are not to compel their children to have a form of religion, but they are to place eternal principles before them in an attractive light.28 AH 323.3

Parents are to make the religion of Christ attractive by their cheerfulness, their Christian courtesy, and their tender, compassionate sympathy; but they are to be firm in requiring respect and obedience. Right principles must be established in the mind of the child.29 AH 323.4

We need to present to the youth an inducement for right doing. Silver and gold is not sufficient for this. Let us reveal to them the love and mercy and grace of Christ, the preciousness of His word, and the joys of the overcomer. In efforts of this kind you will do a work that will last throughout eternity.30 AH 323.5

Why Some Parents Fail—Some parents, although they profess to be religious, do not keep before their children the fact that God is to be served and obeyed, that convenience, pleasure, or inclination should not interfere with His claims upon them. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fact should be woven into the very life and character. The right conception of God through the knowledge of Christ, who died that we might be saved, should be impressed upon their minds.31 AH 323.6

You may think, parents, that you have not time to do all this, but you must take time to do your work in your family, else Satan will supply the deficiency. Cut out everything else from your life that prevents this work from being done, and train your children after His order. Neglect anything of a temporal nature, be satisfied to live economically, bind about your wants, but for Christ's sake do not neglect the religious training of yourselves and your children.32 AH 324.1

Every Member of the Family to Be Dedicated to God—The directions that Moses gave concerning the Passover feast are full of significance, and have an application to parents and children in this age of the world.... AH 324.2

The father was to act as the priest of the household, and if the father was dead, the eldest son living was to perform this solemn act of sprinkling the doorpost with blood. This is a symbol of the work to be done in every family. Parents are to gather their children into the home and to present Christ before them as their Passover. The father is to dedicate every inmate of his home to God and to do a work that is represented by the feast of the Passover. It is perilous to leave this solemn duty in the hands of others.33 AH 324.3

Let Christian parents resolve that they will be loyal to God, and let them gather their children into their homes with them and strike the doorpost with blood, representing Christ as the only One who can shield and save, that the destroying angel may pass over the cherished circle of the household. Let the world see that a more than human influence is at work in the home. Let parents maintain a vital connection with God, set themselves on Christ's side, and show by His grace what great good may be accomplished through parental agency.34 AH 324.4