What If Dad’s Not A Christian?
A reader wrote:
[In your webinar,] you discussed how Dad is the first Hero and he should point the boys to the Ultimate Hero, Christ. We have a 9-year-old son, he is our only child, and my husband is not a Christian, but is tolerant of our going to church (without him) and our son going to AWANAs, so long as none of this affects him or his time, So, I’m wondering if you have any help or advice for when Dad is not a Christian or in a position to point boys to Christ, but is almost adversarial towards the Ultimate Hero?
The question of a spouse who doesn’t share your faith touches on so many issues and concerns. It’s certainly no new problem for believers — the apostle Paul dealt with it in the early church. But this question is specifically concerning the effect on raising your boy — what’s a Christian mother to do if her husband doesn’t have a Christian faith to pass on to his son?
When Paul wrote to young Timothy, in 2 Timothy 1:3-5, he said,
I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did,as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
The book of Acts mentioned that Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer “but his father was Greek.” (Acts 16:1) These two passages tell me that Timothy’s father probably not a Christian, but both his mother and grandmother were primary spiritual influences in his family — and Paul rejoices in their presence there! So if you find yourself in the role of a modern day Eunice, I think you can take heart that God can empower you to fill that part of introducing your son to “The Ultimate Hero” yourself, while praying for His work in your husband’s life as well.
Another encouragement is from the new Gen2 Survey conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute and Generations with Vision. In this study of nearly 10,000 Millennials who were raised in the church, they found that one of the primary predictors of young adults who continued in the faith was a strong relationship with a believing parent – either father or mother. Naturally the ideal is for everyone in the family to be following Christ, but the data says that the whole family doesn’t stand or fall on the father’s beliefs alone.
It’s still important to point your son to any admirable traits in your husband. While he may not be a believer, he may be a great example in many ways – diligence, responsibility, trustworthiness, or loyalty, for instance. Youngsters will tend to look up to their father without worrying about Dad’s personal philosophy, and it’s only fair to acknowledge the grace which God has given him so far.
Many moms in this situation have told us that our book, Raising Real Men, is a huge help to them in understanding what they can do to help their sons become godly men even without much help from their father. Click here to learn more.