Only 9% of “born again” Christian teenagers believe that there are unchangeable, absolute principles of right and wrong. Only 7% of these same teens say that they make their moral decisions based on the Bible. So says noted researcher George Barna.
A number of factors lead our young people to believe that values and morality are relative. The widespread belief in impersonal evolution has undoubtedly contributed to this erosion of biblical concepts about truth. If man is created by pure chance, then there is no place for transcendent values.
However, rather than pointing fingers elsewhere, parents will do well to consider their own personal responsibility.
Jesus told us that the most important command in Scripture is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
The next verses are aimed at parents. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
In other words, the great commandment was followed by a series of commands to parents to challenge our children to love God as we love Him.
First, God’s commands are to be on our hearts. Willing obedience is the natural result of true love, and we should show that His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). Indeed, recognizing His countless mercies, as we serve Him daily, brings supernatural joy and thankfulness that is contagious (see God’s warning in 1 John 5:10–13). Your life will tell your children if you really love God and if His commands are really in your heart.
Second, we are to teach God’s commandments to our children. This is integrally connected to teaching them about loving God. The idea that Christians can exhibit love for God without heart-felt obedience is popular in some circles, but it is wishful thinking.
A child’s cold compliance with man-made rules results in spiritual deadness. But a heart that wants to obey God because of His love is essential to a true, lasting relationship (1 John 4:19).
Ultimately, we depend upon God’s grace to draw our children into Him (John 6:44). But our role is crystal clear: love God from our hearts, and show our children this love by our example and words.