The Influence of Home Life

Does the home influence the religious development of children?
By Wayne Jackson | Christian Courier

No narration available

To what extent does a home’s influence affect the religious convictions and practices of children as they mature?

Almost none, say some modern scientists.

Some are alleging that the most significant influence on a child’s religious life is the so-called “God gene.” This idea asserts that our religious inclination is in our heredity. Presumably, we can do little to alter this urge to be religious or the lack thereof.

If such were the case, this question would seem appropriate. Why do atheists spend so much energy, time, and money attempting to destroy the faith of believers?

This idea is yet another attempt to relieve every human from being responsible for his conduct — good or bad, helpful or hurtful, lawful or criminal.

Let me tell you about a book that was published almost a century ago. In 1913, a fascinating volume authored by Canon Henry Lewis, who was the Rural Dean of the Anglican Church, Bermondsey, London. The book was titled Modern Rationalism as Seen at Work in Its Biographies.

In this rare work, Lewis attempted to illustrate the causes behind the development of some of the most prominent infidels in history. A fascinating survey of Lewis’ famous work is found in Wilbur Smith’s enchanting little volume, Chats From A Minister’s Library.

Note some examples.

Voltaire (1604-1778) was a French deist who vigorously opposed Christianity. Lewis noted that when Voltaire was three years old, his tutor taught him a poem by Rousseau that ridiculed Moses as an imposter. It was downhill from there.

John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was a British philosopher who prepared the way for the modern ideology that no restriction should be placed on freedom of speech — including the perverse. He was brought up without any religious belief. When he was twenty-seven (1833), he wrote to Thomas Carlyle: “I have been reading the New Testament. I can never be said to have read it before.”

Lucile Dudevant (1804-76) was a sensual novelist writing under the pen name “George Sand.” Her immoral life was legendary. Chopin was one of her lovers. She was virtually weaned on the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose famous work, Emile, espoused the following philosophy:

“I need only consult myself with regard to what I wish to do; what I feel to be right is right; what I feel to be wrong is wrong” (249).

Thomas Paine’s (1739-1809) mother was a Quaker, yet was described by Paine as a woman of sour temper and eccentric character. He wrote his infamous Age of Reason as an attack upon the Bible, though he admitted that he did not even own a copy of the Scriptures. At the age of eight, Paine says he was revolted at the idea that God sent his Son to be murdered. He suggested that one who did such a thing was worthy to be hanged.

In his writings, Paine had not a solitary good word to say about his mother. Is it not highly probable that there was a cause-and-effect relationship? As the twig is bent — usually — so grows the tree.

Incidentally, Paine’s professional life was punctuated with corruption and scandal. He was dismissed from various offices on several occasions for unethical conduct.

These examples and many others support the biblical position that a child who is loved with the highest level of devotion is a child that will be nurtured in the instruction of divine things as taught in the Holy Scriptures (Deut. 6:4-9).

A youngster neglected in such matters, or given only superficial exposure to such (e.g., Bible school and occasional church services), is likely destined for an unpleasant eternity. Think about it, dear parents.

  • Rousseau, Jean Jacques. 1943. Emile. London: J.M. Dent & Sons.
  • Smith, Wilbur. 1951. Chats From A Minister’s Library_. Boston: W. A. Wilde Co.