Question:

Hello,

Several years ago my wife became involved in a charismatic group and my marriage fell apart. As I dealt with this situation over the years, I see the effects on my children from what has happened. They were preteens and teenagers when the divorce happened. Throughout all of that time, I have made it a purpose to be involved in their lives, even though I could not be there with them. I have continued to help my ex-wife as much as I possibly could simply to avoid involving my children in a constant conflict and to give them as normal a life as I could while they grew up. Their mother, as they were growing up, continued in her charismatic ways and continued to disparage me to them -- telling them that I abused them and that I was not a role model father figure. I continually had to explain to my children that what they have heard is not actually the way it was.

Last night my middle son, who is a young adult now, told me that he didn't believe in God. My heart was broken. After all of the lunacy of what he saw while he was growing up, such as talk of things floating in the air, talking jibberish (tongues), lightning bolts in church, etc., he has rejected the church and anything to do with it. My two older children have done the very same thing. They do not visit with me very often at all, even though I live just a few miles away. Any fatherly action is either dismissed or ignored. My question is this: How can I tell my children that there is a loving God, and somehow convince them that I am right?


Answer:

Sadly, whenever parents disagree about religion, the most common result is that the children reject all religion. I doubt there was much that you could have done differently to change the situation.

You'll have to continue to be the voice of reason. Right now they are being independent as they get ready to form their own families (Genesis 2:24). But that doesn't mean they have totally forgotten what you have taught them. In the years ahead, especially as they have families of their own, they will be seeking out your advice again -- especially when they see that what you tell them almost always turns out to be correct.

As time continues, they will conclude that their mom is flaky. They will note that dad is always calm, cool, and reasonable. They will see their mom is up and down, but dad is always quietly happy. Just as Peter said about wives, you need to implement: "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (I Peter 3:1-2). Where words are reject, your actions will still be a guiding beacon. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).