Lots of people are catechizing your child. Are you one of them?
The tragic death of six believers, including three children and three brave adults, at the hands of an evil mass shooter at a Christian elementary school in Nashville this week was a stark and painful reminder that the battle raging around us is ultimately a spiritual one.
Media and many activists have rushed to make the transgender-identifying shooter out to be the victim and Christians the villains, blaming the killer’s parents for attempting to instill their faith in her — however imperfectly. I don’t know the shooter’s parents. Neither do you. But we do know the killer’s mind was not ultimately captured by the life-giving truths of the Gospel. She was consumed by a different catechism.
Maybe you have only a vague idea of what catechism is, or have only ever heard it in passing reference to Catholic rearing. In short, a catechism is a summary of beliefs in a fixed question-and-answer format for instruction and meditation. Catechism isn’t just for Catholics — it’s crucial for Protestants. But understand: It is not even only for followers of Jesus. Those who reject him have their own catechisms, born out of their own character and beliefs.
Some Catechize with Lies
Scripture describes this in no uncertain terms. Matthew warns “beware” of false teachers, “who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” In engaging with the self-righteous leaders who hated his message, Jesus declared, “You are of your father, the devil” — who is a “murderer” and a “liar” — “and your will is to do your father’s desires.” This devil “prowls around like a roaring lion,” Peter says, “seeking someone to devour.” It’s a plain picture of the enemy and those who blindly worship him: They’re “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” “inventors of evil” who “suppress the truth” and “give approval” to all kinds of darkness.
Here’s an example of this suppression of truth and approval of lies. It’s the Catechism of Sexual Confusion, made all the more relevant by the Nashville shooter’s embrace of transgenderism. Here’s a woman who goes by the username “pagan warrior mama” methodically instructing her children with a series of reality-denying questions and answers:
What does it mean to be gay? It means you’re a boy, and you like a boy.
What does nonbinary mean? Nonbinary means you’re a girl and a boy.
Are you nonbinary? Yeah.
Can we see one side of your head? (shaved) Can we see the other side? (long hair)
Who wanted that haircut? Me.
Why? Because I want to be a boy and a girl.
What does transgender mean? It means when a male wants to be a female and a female wants to be a male. And who’s transgender? Me.
What does bisexual mean? To like different genders. And who’s bisexual? Me.
It’s dark. It’s depraved. But it’s a woman who understands the importance of catechism. Instill doctrines early. Repeat them often. As a result, she’s created a household where her children believe themselves to be nonbinary, transgender, asexual, and bisexual — and obediently recite these precepts on command.
Here’s another example, from earlier in the catechizing process. Parents outsourced their tentative children to drag queens, who familiarized them with adult sexual fetishes and asked them leading questions about gender-bending.
If only indoctrination came just from willing parents, but it does not. The dogmas come from elementary teachers, librarians, children’s movies and television shows, picture books, peers, social media, magazines, video games, and other ideologically motivated adults, just to name a few. They’re reinforced at all stages of development, from Disney Channel to a degree in gender studies, and they obscure truths about every topic, from the sanctity of human life to the nature of freedom and safety. We’ve all seen the results. Just listen to the mindless talking points that pour out of those who have been fully catechized:
No doubt, some of those brainwashed adults inherited their sexual ethos not from their parents — but from other outside sources more determined to ingrain their creeds. And maybe some of them, like the Nashville killer, even fell prey to false teaching despite their parents’ beliefs.
Never underestimate the magnitude of forces “seeking to devour” your child and the number of people working tirelessly to “suppress the truth” from them. Your children will be catechized. Make sure it’s in truth.
How to Catechize Your Kids and Yourself
There are so many catechism resources available it’s difficult to know where to begin, but here are a few to try.
It’s tough to beat the “Westminster Shorter Catechism” (here’s a version with corresponding scripture references), though it might be more difficult for smaller children. Here’s one specifically for young children that is based on it, with small changes to reflect Baptists’ understanding of baptism. Another good option for Baptist parents of young kids is the “Prove It” catechism.
The “New City Catechism” by Sam Shammas and Timothy Keller is intended to help both kids and adults grasp the fundamental doctrines of Christianity through a series of 52 questions and answers. Keller provides a helpful introduction that not only explains why catechisms are important but gives memorization tips and tricks.
A pastor friend also recommends the “Heidelberg Catechism” as “amazingly warm,” though it may be more difficult for small children. He suggests “Child’s Catechism of Scripture History” too, but says that resource is primarily focused on teaching kids biblical facts rather than answering theological questions. It’s available for just $1 here.
Though not labeled a catechism, one of the most spiritually transformative books I have read is “A Gospel Primer For Christians” by Milton Vincent. It explains why Christians should preach the gospel to themselves each day and helps facilitate that practice. It’s a wonderful book to keep by your bed for daily consumption — and you’ll likely find yourself thinking about its profound truths throughout the day, re-reading it again and again, and sharing it with your friends.
If these aren’t suitable for your family’s needs, ask your pastor what other resources your church provides. Simply memorizing scripture is always a great place to start for parents and children together. Consider beginning with Psalms 1, 22, 23, or 91.
Don’t be discouraged if memorization comes slowly — especially as an adult! Memory hacks abound, so learn what works best for you. Repetition and reading out loud are key. Try making flash cards or taping individual Q&A’s next to the kitchen sink or on the bathroom mirror where you’ll see them often. Ask your spouse, child, or friend to quiz you. Try tackling one simple question and answer at a time with your children as part of their bedtime routine until they can recite it confidently.
And don’t think of it as homework! As the very first truth of the “Westminster Larger Catechism” declares, the main purpose of your life is to “glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” As you allow truth to saturate your mind and soul — at whatever pace — enjoy.
When You Walk by the Way
Thankfully, not all catechizing is formal book reading and recitation — but casual catechesis is just as much of a responsibility. It’s active teaching while going through the passive motions of life. After giving God’s Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, Moses instructed that the parents must “teach them diligently to your children.” Here’s how:
[You] 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.
When you’re lounging around the living room or darting off to soccer practice. When you’re tucking them into bed or picking out their outfit the next day — teach your children diligently. Even the mundane parts of life are opportunities for what Federalist contributor Katy Faust describes as the “Great Equipping.” I can’t recommend her essay on it enough.
As my colleague Joy Pullmann wrote on Thursday, in this spiritual battle, “We war with words, many of which we pray.” In addition to the words we offer up to the Father, we desperately need strategic words of truth down to our children and inward to our own souls.
As spiritual attacks come from all sides, Saint Paul charges Christians to “put on the whole armor of God” so that we can fight “against the schemes of the devil.” Your children desperately need this panoply of truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and scripture if they are to stand strong in the evil day.
Start suiting them up.