The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

What about faithful Christians with unfaithful adult children?

Grandmother, mother and daughter by lake, head and shoulders. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.

by Richard Mansel

Certain topics matter very much to Christians in the pew, but they’re rarely addressed from the pulpit. We must open the window on a topic that causes pain for many Christians.

What does the Bible say about faithful Christians who have unfaithful adult children?

We must tread lightly because raw nerves lie exposed. Some Christian parents do have unfaithful children because of the mistakes they made. Extrapolating that belief to all families is both dangerous and dishonest.

Scripture says a lot about parenting. The Old Testament is brimming with good and bad examples (Genesis 18:18-19; 1 Samuel 1:11).

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).

Proverbs are true, but complicated. Parents should teach their children about God and righteous living at every opportunity (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Ephesians 6:4). What the child does with that teaching is a separate issue.

For example, Elders are commanded to have “faithful” children (Titus 1:6) and to have “his children in submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy 3:4; cf. Ephesians 6:1). These are important principles for all parents.

When children are under our roof, we have greater control over whether they attend and serve God. We can ground them in Christ, teaching them to be sound Bible students and how to make good spiritual decisions.

Yet, when they leave home, it becomes increasingly complicated because they have new jobs, friends, relationships and communities. Their values and beliefs may undergo a tidal change based on new indicators and influences.

The pliable toddler becomes an adult with a thousand moving parts that we can’t control and the concept of freewill takes on a new perspective.

Raised faithfully means remaining faithful is by no means a law. Yet, too many Christians with faithful adult children think it is. What one parent does with their children will not necessarily work with every child.

Blaming someone for something that isn’t their fault is cruel and unchristian. Parents with unfaithful children suffer already and when they’re met with disdain rather than support, it compounds their misery.

What can we do with unfaithful Children?

  • First, pray for them.
  • Second, live a good example in love and understanding.
  • Third, keep the lines of communication open.

We don’t know what may lead them back to Christ and we want to be there when they do. Model the faith and value the Savior before them and live a transformed life (Romans 12:1-2). Hopefully, they will watch and listen, providing more opportunities for dialogue.

We must not, however, ignore the teachings of Scripture and rationalize away their sin. That would do them eternal harm (Luke 13:3-5).

Our children must be aware that we disapprove of their unfaithfulness. However, our unconditional love serves as an anchor of hope.

Pray for faithful Christians with unfaithful children and pray that their children will repent.


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2 thoughts on “What about faithful Christians with unfaithful adult children?

  1. Linda Newsted on said:

    Richard, this is an excellent article. I appreciate the points made. Our children are unfaithful after being baptized in their teens. You are correct that is a heartache for parents. .

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