A Guide to Raising Christian Children

Carl Vogt pages through a Lutheran Service Book during a home devotion on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Menomonee Falls, Wis. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

by Jason Braaten

Nebraska senator Ben Sasse has been making waves in the media lately with his prescription for raising children. This prescription appeared in the Wall Street Journal article on May 5, 2017, “How to Raise an American Adult.” And in anticipation of his new book The Vanishing American Adult (St. Martin’s Press), NPR interviewed him in “No More Neverland: A Senator’s Guide to Raising American Adults.”

Sasse has some good advice on how to raise children into adults. He encourages teaching children to resist consumption, embrace the pain of work, connect across generations, travel meaningfully and become truly literate.

But there is one thing lacking in these interviews and opinion pieces: Why? Or rather, to what end? What is the purpose of doing this? What is the goal?

Here the Bible is the only place to give us the answer: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). In other words, the goal of every parent in teaching their children, in instilling in them character and virtue, is to be ordered toward the creation of their own household, becoming one flesh as husband and wife in the procreation of children.

Every parent wants their children to be successful, to work hard, to learn and to grow in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). And that way is ordered to a particular end. Success as it is defined biblically is not how many zeros before the decimal one’s salary is. Success is not how big of a house one has or how nice the car is. Success in work and in life in the Bible is ordered to making not money, or a house, but rather to building a home, a family and passing that desire on to one’s offspring.

This is why we work diligently—to provide for a family, for those we love. This is why we read and learn—to pass knowledge on to a family, to those we love. This is why we resist consumption—to give to a family, to those we love. The goal is not just to raise adults, but to raise up husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. And in so doing, hear their joyful exclamation, as Adam once exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23), for “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen.  2:18).

The Rev. Jason M. Braaten is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Tuscola, Ill.

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6 Responses to A Guide to Raising Christian Children

  1. Barbara k. Hull June 1, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    Well said. Good point that isn’t often emphasized. Thank you Rev. Braaten

  2. John J Flanagan June 1, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    There are very intense challenges to raising Christian children today, especially given the “dumbing down” of our culture and the blatant narcissism and immaturity of modern American adults. Our culture is now very self centered, with most people unable to look away from their smartphones and IPads long enough to carry on an intelligent conversation.
    As a 72 year old retiree, I can remember the “old days,” when life had its problems but still seemed better in many respects. Today manners are terrible, people more coarse and vulgar, and there is less respect for authority.
    How do you raise Christian children in a polarized society in which morals are collectively loose, role models are difficult to find, and children are confused as to what is correct behavior. Certainly they can’t look up to some so called adults for guidance.
    I do not know the answer. Perhaps, we must just recognize that our society and nation is in moral and spiritual decline, and Christians must withdraw from it rather than take part in it.

  3. Tom Mueller June 1, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

    The vocation of parent is one of many vocations that God calls Christians to. Christian parents should prepare their children to fulfill many vocations. They should also prepare their children to deal with the possibility that God will not call them to the vocation of parent.

  4. Earleene F Childers June 2, 2017 at 12:13 am #

    Forever true, God alone creates family for His glory not the glory of man.

  5. Jeff June 3, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    I’m not sure I agree with this- nowhere in the Bible does God say that the purpose of raising children is to ensure that they marry and procreate. In 1st Corinthians CH8 vs 8-9 St Paul has this to say:
    “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
    Later in vs 32-33 he adds:
    “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided.”
    So from this it appears as if it is better to remain unmarried in order to better serve God during our time on this earth. At best marriage and family are optional.

    • John J Flanagan June 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

      The Bible also says, ‘it is better to marry than to burn.” Paul preferred to be single, and for some this situation is fine, but the human race needs to reproduce, and God Himself blesses the married state. It was not taught as an “option” except in modern self centered and prosperous societies.
      Biologically and sexually, men are meant to marry, which also meets the emotional and physical needs each of us possess. Are there bad marriages, dysfunctional relationships…yes,of course, but marriage is still the best and most biblical situation for men and women to enter into, and God blesses holy matrimony.

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