The following is an excerpt taken from chapter 13 of The Quiver: Christian Parenting in a Non-Christian World.


Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14 NIV).

A few years ago I attended a seminar at which a powerful, very dogmatic speech was delivered. The speaker insisted that if a child of Christian parents has reached thirteen years of age and has not yet become a Christian, it's because of sin in his parent's marriage. The speaker was very confident, and despite a total lack of scriptural support for his theory, allowed no exceptions.

But how could this man, a stranger to many in the audience, know at what age every child present was ready to make Jesus Lord? The Bible, after all, never specifies an "age of accountability." And does the Bible really espouse so mechanical a view of conversion? Does it promise that if your parents are good Christians, the chances are 100% that you will become one, too?

Sure, it would be nice if all children of believers were guaranteed to be automatically converted at age thirteen, and without any chance that they were just "going through the motions." That would simplify things, wouldn't it? But this is not reality. Nor are all children the same. And then there's that troubling, persistent fact: they have free will.

Original sin in reverse?
I (Douglas) get thousands of emails each year. I enjoy fielding questions from around the world, and have been doing this since 1998. This question (from 2005) really made me think:

It has become a commonplace that if a Christian couple's child doesn't become a Christian, it's because the parents are harboring sin they haven't repented of. But what about Ezekiel 18, where it says the sins of the father will not be on the son, or the son's on the father? This passage even gives an example of a righteous man who has a sinful son. Please help!

And this was my response:

Certainly a Christian family is likely to turn out Christian kids. Train