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Go to college and lose your faith?

POSTED: August 12, 2011 11:59 p.m.

As the good Christian people of our town get ready to send off another crop of high school graduates to college, they need to face the sad reality — most of those kids will not be coming back … to church. They will sit under learned professors who will subtly (or overtly) undermine, “ … the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” Our kids will be carried away by philosophy, and get lost in the haze of new ideas. Tragically, many of them will also adopt a new set of moral standards. Their sensibilities will be assailed by professors and peers alike who will pressure them to accept a “new enlightened morality”, which actually amounts to “anything goes”.
This tragic phenomenon, the falling away of our Christian kids at college, is known to just about everyone who is willing to look at the evidence. Studies show we lose about 80 percent.
Now, let’s ask the question, who is to blame for this? Is it the universities’ fault?  Somewhat, perhaps, but I believe the bulk of the blame actually falls on the parents, and (if you believe the Bible) it especially falls on Dad. Now that I have your ire up, I hope you will read on.
Studies show that our kids are hard-wired to look to Dad for spiritual direction. Even more importantly, it is what Scripture indicates. The Bible commands fathers specifically to “bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but the rule is the rule.
This hard-wiring in children to look to Dad is one of the reasons God is so incredibly concerned about the fatherless. The church should be a place where fatherless children can find surrogate spiritual fathers (see James 1:27). Dad is the primary one responsible for junior’s spiritual well-being. The apostle Paul actually tells Titus that a man can’t lead in a church if his kids don’t have a real faith (Titus 1:6). Why? Because, obviously, Dad has failed in his spiritual duties, and if he fails at home he will likely fail the church, too (see also I Timothy 3:4-5).
Clearly, mothers are extremely important in shaping and influencing their children, but God puts the weight of this particular burden largely on the father’s shoulders. It’s just the way things are. 
So, Dad, just like the Bible said almost two thousand years ago, the spiritual well-being of your kids rests largely on your shoulders. It isn’t enough to splash a little water on him or her at birth and then have them repeat a few lines of “proper doctrine” when they hit the teen years. Nor is it enough to rest on some prayer they said at vacation Bible school. Nor should you place your hopes on some youth pastor, who is barely older than your kids (the Bible does not say, “Youth pastors, bring up everyone else’s kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”).
Dad, you are the one. God created this universe so that your kids would look to you for guidance. You can have a profound shaping influence on them. Are you a godly example for your kids? When was the last time you prayed with them, or opened the Word with them? Are you the one teaching your kids a Christian worldview? Are you the predominant influence in their life, or is it cable TV and their buddies? Do you intentionally take time to teach them the difference between a real Christian and what Paul calls a “so-called Christian”? Dad, if you drop the ball here, don’t be surprised if junior finds another spiritual “dad” at college and decides to take some other (heartbreaking) path.

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