Second Generation Christians

By Larry Houchen

The father and mother painfully realized that they had made a mistake. Though some “sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18), there are some sins which carry with them severer consequences than do others. That time in life when the father and mother could have had a great impact for further good upon the lives of their children is now gone; their attempts to now remedy the sad condition will be meager. The father and mother are Christians, they attend services, they instilled within their children a belief in God and godly principles. They had and continue to have a healthy relationship with their children. The father and mother are not alcoholics nor burdened with any other such vice. What, then, is the problem and what caused them to realize their mistake? The problem is recognizing for possibly their lifetime that their once faithful children are no longer faithful to God. Their remembrance that they only attended Sunday morning worship services until their youngest child was eighteen years old is a brutal awakening that they must share much of the blame. What a price to pay!

The aforementioned story is not about any specific parents; it is, however, the story of literally thousands of Christians. Sadly, in just about every congregation of God’s people, there are those members who only attend on Sunday morning. The Sunday morning Bible classes, evening and midweek services are nonexistent insofar as they are concerned. They are oblivious to the fact that their neglect is having a tremendous negative impact upon their children.

There is a principle of degeneration which states that a weakness in any given generation tends to become more pronounced in the succeeding generations. One of the reasons why there is a law in many states which prohibits the marriage of cousins to each other is because of the high risk of deformity. in the offspring of that marriage. The physical weakness in a family becomes more pronounced when it is added to itself within the same family. Biblically speaking, a weakness passed to the next generation often worsens. In the book of Judges is the revealing statement, “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers, and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel” (2:10). The primary generation could not escape from the inevitable conclusion as evident in the degeneration of the secondary generation; they had been neglectful. The apostle Paul writes, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness” (2 Tim. 2:16). While the sins mentioned in that verse are not under consideration in this article, the principle that sin leads to further sin is evident. It is further affirmed when Paul says, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Sin yields further sin.

Our role as parents is a tremendous responsibility. Such admonitions as “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) which plead for our dedication, affect our children based upon the degree we accept the challenge. The parental responsibility to bring up our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), will greatly affect our children depending on how we perceive the passage. The Hebrew writer states, “Not forsaking our own assembling together . . . ” (10:25). Negligence in attendance has always been only a symptom of a more far-reaching problem: attitude. In other words, if our dedication is not as it should be and our parental example of what God means to us is lacking, our children may adopt even lesser degrees of these vital essentials.

The influence which grandparents and other relatives wield is also a major contributing force to the offspring of a marriage. Moses, in exhorting Israel to teach their succeeding generations, said to “make them (the things that they had seen – LRH) known to your sons and grandsons.” Yes, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other relatives greatly influence their next generation in the family.

The evangelism of the world is often stressed; but what about our own children? What about those with 1whom we have the greatest influence? It is true that many have risen above the lesser example for good of their parents, but many others constitute that sad statistic of degenerating from a weak influence for good. Think about that the next time there is a worship service or scheduled class instruction.

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 6, p. 170
March 17, 1987