I feel like I, too, grew up in a “pseudo-Christian” environment and I’m afraid that it affects the way I raise my children. How can Christian parents “validate and defend” their Christian faith to the members of their own household without being hypocrites?
A “pseudo-Christian” is like a nominal Christian, or, to use a less kind but more valid term, a hypocrite.
The Pharisees were the quintessential hypocrites because they put on a public show of godliness and righteousness but were sullied and wicked at their core. They were “whited sepulchres” filled with “dead men’s bones” (Mt. 23:27). If you grew up in a home where your parents put on a righteous façade while at church, only to turn around and have a temper tantrum as soon as they were home alone with you, then you know what this sort of hypocrisy looks and feels like. I’m betting that you also know how damaging this can be to a person’s faith. Only God knows how many hypocritical parents ruined their child’s desire to be counted among the Christians because they claimed to serve Christ while in public only to come home to serve sin.
We can despise the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, or we can face the sad but real truth of the matter: we are all hypocrites. We have the Word of God available to us, giving us every opportunity to obey it, but we don’t. Every time we fail or fall back into an old sinful habit, we, too, are giving Christianity a bad name. Our children, our friends, our church, and the world can see it, despite our efforts to conceal our sin by wearing a façade of holiness in public.
So how do we distinguish ourselves from the Pharisees and give our children every reason to follow Christ? We must acknowledge our sin, be heart-broken over it, fall to our knees before the Lord in repentance, ask for and accept God’s forgiveness, and then boldly get back up with a genuine desire to eradicate the sin from our lives. Showing this humility, this contrite spirit and broken heart over our own sin is exactly how we “validate” our faith to our families. It is essential to our healing and growth that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and honest with our trusted families and friends. They need to see that we are a work in progress, and that we also struggle to live in obedience to God. We struggle against our flesh, daily crucifying it (Gal. 5:24), even bearing in our flesh “the dying of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10) to illustrate His power through our weakness. If we pretend that we have no sin, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8).
This doesn’t mean that we should brag on our sin as though we accept it as part of who we are without struggling against it. Often, I hear people talk about the human condition, nonchalantly repeating mantras such as “Well, nobody’s perfect!” as a thoughtless excuse for their persistent flaws. Jude 1:23 says that we are to hate even the garment that is “spotted by the flesh”. We are to “eschew evil” (1 Pet. 3:11); put evil away from us. Not gently, but patiently and prayerfully. The rewards for such loyalty, for such will, and for such sacrifice, are great.
How do we “defend” our faith to our families? We defend it by knowing and prioritizing the Word of God. If we don’t know the Word well enough to tell our children the story of David, Daniel, Esther, or Mary by heart, then we are not spending enough time in the Word. If our children don’t see us going about our daily chores with the words of scripture on our lips in an attempt to memorize the verses that we love, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If, when we chastise our children, we cannot use the words of God authoritatively, lovingly, and respectfully as a reason to obey, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If we view a secular documentary with our family about evolution, over-population, the gospel of Judas, the Dead Sea scrolls, the giants, or the Ark of the Covenant, or anything similar, and we do not know how to refute or explain them, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If we call the humanist philosophies of postmodernism or feminism valid and allow the rudiments of the world to cow us into taking on habits of false virtue and counterfeit spirituality, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If we don’t take the time to “prove all things” and “hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21) based on the Biblical truth and in recognition of its perfection, authority, and infallibility, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If we have a bad day and have no idea how to control the false imaginations of our mind and heart, allowing ourselves to spin into an emotional whirlwind, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If an unsaved friend doesn’t ask us why we are so happy and content, why our children are so delightful and obedient, or why our marriage looks so fulfilled and loving, and we cannot give her an answer based on the faith and hope that we have because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we are not spending enough time in the Word. If we cannot show the way of salvation to them that ask for it, we are not spending enough time in the Word.
Please, mom, if you want to validate and defend your faith to your family before a holy and just God, read the Word of God and do what it says!