Why are we Losing our Children?
It was a turn of events from God. (2 Chronicles 10:15).
In his book, Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it, author Ken Ham cites a survey that says two-thirds of evangelical young people will leave church by their early twenties.1 Surprisingly, Ham has found that those who attend Sunday School are the most likely to leave the church. Why? The children are more than likely told that God made the world out of nothing (so far so good) but their exposure to atheism in general and evolution in particular in public schools and in television and movies undermines what they hear at church. That’s because pastors, parents, and Sunday School teachers are not giving their children a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Pet. 3:15). These twenty somethings are living with a gross inconsistency and they opt for the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14).
While no doubt true, there is also a deeper cause for this apostasy. In 2 Chronicles 10 we are told that after Solomon’s death, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who had been in exile since Solomon’s attempt to murder him, ventures back into Israel with hopes of repairing the rift between him and Solomon’s administration. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, is made king after his father’s death, and Jeroboam comes to him, hat in hand as it were, agreeing to serve him if he will ‘lighten up’ on Jeroboam and his friends. Rehoboam tells him to go away for three days and then return for his answer. Rehoboam consults the older men who had been his father’s consultants, asking them what they thought he should do. They said that by all means he should go easy on them. If he did so, then they would serve him forever. We are told twice, however, that Rehoboam did not listen to their counsel, and instead consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. They told him to be hard on them. In their sophomoric bravado they, in essence, were saying, ‘You are the king. You must show your power and authority. Anything less is a sign of weakness not becoming such a great, young king.’ Jeroboam returned for Rehoboam’s answer and he said, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ The people naturally rebelled saying, ‘What portion do we have in David? Every man to your tents, O Israel!’
If we stop here then we may conclude that the moral of this historical narrative is to listen to wise counsel coming from older people and reject ungodly counsel coming from young people. But not all older people give wise counsel and not all young people give foolish counsel. Something deeper is brewing here and that’s where verse 15 comes into play. A vast portion of the kingdom was taken from Solomon and given to Jeroboam. Why? ‘It was a turn of events from God that the Lord might establish his word, which he spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat,’ (1 Kings 11:29-39). Why was God upset with Solomon? We are told in 1 Kings 3:3 that as he began his reign Solomon loved the Lord and walked in the statutes of his father. By 1 Kings 11:1, however, he loves foreign women and has gone after their gods. More specifically, Solomon brought to Israel Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, the female counterpart of Baal, the fertility god and goddess. In order to ensure prosperity by having many children, animals, and crops people regularly engaged in cult prostitution to appease Ashtoreth. Solomon also built a high place for Chemosh, the god of the Moabites, on the Mount of Olives, the place where Jesus would sweat drops of blood for us some nine hundred years later. Solomon did so for geo-political reasons. He felt threatened by the Moabites and needed a way to keep them in check. But the worst of all was the Ammonite god Milcom, a bronze god with a bull’s head, having outstretched arms with a hole in its belly. This god was made red hot with fuel and while drums were beating to drown out the cry of babies, parents regularly placed their infants in Milcom’s arms, rolling them down into his belly, they being burned alive as sacrifices to their parents’ desire for pleasure.2
Solomon forfeited ten of the twelve tribes because of his idolatry. This came not merely as a divine fiat. Cause and affect are always in play. Rehoboam grew up in a household where he heard his father Solomon say one thing, but do another. He said that he loved Yahweh, but in addition to Yahweh he also bowed down to Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom. So Rehoboam never considered the fear of Yahweh as important. Instead he was prejudiced against the counsel of the older men. He considered himself to be one with the young men in their sophomoric bravado. He was filled with pride too. He loved the idea of running roughshod over Jeroboam. After all, he was the king. He could do as he pleased.
As with Solomon and his idolatry, the big three of sex (cultic prostitution through Ashtoreth), power (geo-political security through Chemosh), and money (sacrificing children to Milcom to allow a woman the lifestyle she chooses or sacrificing one’s children for one’s career) are very much at play today. So bottom line – we are losing our children, just as Rehoboam lost most of the kingdom, because of our idolatry. Sex, power, and money still plague us, threatening to destroy our children, seeking to tear them from our covenantal grasp.
Are you bowing to the god of sex? Women, are you dressing immodestly? Are you spending too much time and money on the way you look? Men, are you secretly on the internet looking at pornography? Sin always costs us dearly. You may think you are getting away with your actions but your sins will eventually find you out. You will be exposed. It will negatively impact your children. Count on it! Are you worshipping at the high place of power? Do you compromise biblical convictions to get to the next level in your company? Women, are you buying into the world’s lie that you get your worth from your career, that staying home with young children is boring and below your gifts and talents? Are you seeking the god of wealth? Jesus says that you cannot serve both God and mammon, that you will love the one and hate the other (Matt. 6:24). Do you sacrifice your young children’s spiritual lives by placing them in public schools because you want to work outside the home? Is there no other alternative?3 Have you really thought about the implications of exposing your children to seven hours per day, one hundred and eighty days a year, to godless atheism? As I am wont to say from time to time – just raising the question. Can there be anything more precious to us than our children and grandchildren! We lose our children, as Rehoboam lost the kingdom, because of idolatry. May God give us grace to tear down these altars that threaten to undo us all!
- Pages 37ff address this ‘Sunday School Syndrome.’
- Can you see the parallel today with these abhorrent gods? Worship of Ashtoreth, the fertility goddess, observed through sexual perversion, reminds us of our god of sex. Setting up Chemosh on the Mount of Olives to solidify geo-political power smacks of worshipping at the altar of power. And sacrificing children to Milcom reminds us of a woman’s ‘right’ to her own body, aborting her children because she wants nothing to get in the way of her career; of men sacrificing their children’s nurture by working ridiculous hours to make more money and gain more financial security. As Solomon says, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ (Eccles. 1:9). Man still pursues the big three – sex, power, and money.
- Sometimes there is no alternative. A single mother must work. Perhaps the husband does not make enough money to put the children into a Christian school. Perhaps the mother does not have the gifts or patience to home school her children. And it may be that older children, say teens, are able to ‘stand above the crowd’ and go to public schools, having been firmly grounded on the Christian world view. My intent here is to challenge you to your present way of thinking on these matters.
Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Al Baker’s sermons are now available on www.sermonaudio.com.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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