I’ve had several run-ins recently with Christian mothers who were cautious about restricting their children’s friends and experiences for fear of “exposing them” to other religions.
First of all, I want to say that a big mission for me in writing this blog is eliminating the anxiety a lot of parents have towards raising children. Yes, it’s a big deal. I get that. But it doesn’t have to be fearfully done.
I have three excellent reasons why you need not be afraid to expose your children to other religions.
Children should not be raised in a bubble
Many Christian parents want their children to learn about other cultures, other people, and even missionaries. But inhibiting exposure to other religions gives children an incomplete and skewed comprehension of these subjects. Religion is key in understanding cultural values. Religion is key in understanding people’s behavior. Religion is key in understanding why missionaries are sent out and what they do.
As a child, I can remember being taken to a Muslim cultural festival at a mosque. I can remember being taken to a Taoist temple by a very sweet Taoist lady we were staying with in the Philippines. One of my first friends was a Hindu.
I can honestly say that I never felt that my faith was threatened by my exposure to other religions. Instead, I learned a lot about different people, what they believe, and why they believe it.
By raising children in a bubble, without exposure to other religions, you are severely limiting their worldview.
Christians are called to be missionaries
The book of Acts (among others) is filled with exhortations to preach the gospel to all people. But the Apostle Paul shows us through both his words and actions that this does not look the same in every place. Why? Because people have different cultures, and different religions. Their receptiveness to the gospel will look different based on those factors.
Acts 17:22-24 says:
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
By learning about the religion of Athens, Paul was able to better connect with its people. It even opened the door for him to preach the gospel.
By exposing our children to other religions and teaching them to be discerning, we equip them for their future calling.
Children are not losing their faith; college students are.
We’re afraid of our children losing faith by being exposed to other religions at a young age. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! Children are not the ones losing their faith.
The best time in a person’s life to expose them to other religions is when they are a child. You as a parent are there to guide them, answer their questions, and explain why we believe differently than other people.
The problem occurs when children who have no foundational understanding in other cultures and religions experience a sudden crisis of faith when they are exposed to difficult theological conundrums and have no one to help guide them through.
Children need to have a solid foundation of Biblical understanding before they are sent off on their own. And they need to know what they will be up against in the real world. Protecting them from ideas that are different doesn’t help them defend their faith.
Instead of being anxious about your children’s faith, take steps to give them a solid foundation. Choose to raise them with an awareness of other cultures, and other religions. Prepare them to step up in faith and preach the gospel to those who believe differently than they do. Allow them to ask questions so that they know what they believe and are secure in their faith.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is letting go. At the end of the day, we are only responsible for laying the foundation – we can’t ensure that our children will never go astray. That is between them and God.