Nicely following last month’s article on “catechesis” (or teaching) a more thorough understanding of Proverbs 22:6 was taught by The Reverend Dr. Wallace Schulz at the Mission Festival at the end of January. That text proclaims, “Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
To this verse of Holy Scripture Dr. Schulz said, “This is a very misunderstood text. Many think this is some sort of hocus pocus text. Parents are found saying, “I brought my child to church, put them through Confirmation classes, and once they were Confirmed they weren’t interested in church anymore and now they don’t attend at all. So much for Proverbs 22:6 doing what it promised.”
Dr. Schulz, however, went on to point out, “To train a child up means to take responsibility for the ever-on-going catechesis that must take place not just through childhood and adolescence, but throughout our entire lives!” In other words, catechesis never ends; it is a parental duty to care for your children’s training throughout their lives - as well as your own!
Interestingly enough the catechesis we received from Dr. Schulz would come to help Kelli and myself immensely as we prepared to send Phoebe off for her first day of Junior Kindergarten at Grace Lutheran School. We were used to giving Phoebe her Scriptural instruction (catechesis) at home, and the thought that overwhelmed us (among all of the other separation issues) was that we were losing that role as parental instructor.
But thanks to Dr. Schulz’s teaching, we now know that it’s not out of our hands just because we are sending her off to school. In fact, our responsibility as her parents (being made that authority by God) is to keep making sure that she is being taught God’s Word properly. In other words, we cannot just assume that because the school is teaching the Holy Scriptures that it is enough and we can sit back and think that we’re off the hook. We must continue to review with her the various events within the Holy Scriptures, along with reviewing the Six Chief Parts of the Christian Faith as long as she is under our care.
It is a popular thought that once a child turns 18 or leaves the home that parents lose the responsibility of their children. That might be true when it comes to temporal, worldly matters, but Proverbs 22:6 calls on parents to always exhort their children (no matter what their age) to hear God’s Word taught in its truth and purity, which includes reviewing the Six Chief Parts throughout their lives.
The old Adam within all of us wants to shirk this parental duty because the flesh is more concerned about being free of responsibilities, hardships, and sacrifices (of which having children is the biggest), but the New Man (who is Christ within us) brings us to do this as long as we have children under our authority. Remember, within self-examination according to God’s Ten Commandments (which obviously contains the 4th), we are to ask ourselves, “Am I a father, mother, son or daughter...?”
So, as you properly hear God’s Word and stay in the Six Chief Parts, give your children a call (no matter how old they are) and continue to train them up in the faith. Even if they don’t want to hear it, or continue to give excuse after excuse, as a parent being brought to properly exhort them, you then get to say, “Thank you God for bringing me to be a caring parent - and forgive me for where I have fallen short.” All the glory goes to God in your care of them and the forgiveness, which has already been merited for you by Christ, continues to be delivered through His Holy Word and Holy Sacraments.
With you IN Christ,