During the 1850’s Frederick Douglass had a series of conversations with white slave owners about how slavery would affect generations to come.
It was during one of these dialogues that he penned the words, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” One could also offer this corollary, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair a broken society.”
Even though they were penned well over 150 years ago, these words still ring true today. As we mourn a broken society made up of broken men, we should turn our eyes to take the long view. To repair our nation, we should focus our efforts on our homes and the institutions that directly impact our children. Raising the next generation of strong children is the best way to repair our broken society.
In fact, you could safely assume that this now famous quote is Biblically-based. Proverbs 22:6 says something strikingly similar: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The Bible gives parents a process on how to properly instill Biblical values in their children. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Scripture commands us to “build strong children” and to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the above passage, parents are commanded to keep God’s law always on their hearts and to instruct their children in the teachings of the Bible. God first commands that parents should discuss Scripture at home with their children. This is because the primary education of every child starts in the home. Whether intentionally or unconsciously, all parents teach their children by example, and the home environment lays the foundation for every child’s development.
God wants parents to be deliberate with their time and conscious of their example and make sure that their children are raised with a proper understanding of God’s Word. In ancient Israel, the primary mode of transportation was walking; much time was spent traveling from one place to another. Today’s equivalent would be when you are driving somewhere with your family. The Bible teaches that parents should make use of the time to discuss the teachings of Scripture.
Finally, God teaches that parents should teach their children about the things of God “when you lie down, and when you rise.” Simply put, God says to set aside a time each morning to take a bit and read the Bible to your children. Additionally, God says to take some time as you prepare for bed or assist your children with their bedtime preparations to think of the precepts and principles of Scripture.
Teaching your children about Scripture will take discipline, but the Bible promises that even a rebellious child cannot outrun or forget the principles instilled by faithful parents.
And strong children grow to be healthy men and women, leading a healthy and strong society.
Josh Denton is a contributing writer for Family Policy Institute of Washington.