Walk inside almost any home, and we won’t find statues or altars. Therefore, God’s command to the Israelites to not offer their children as sacrifices to Molech is one we quickly skim (Lev. 20:1-5). There’s no way that applies to us, right? Literally, they killed their children as a sacrifice to a false god, an offense punishable by death. We read this in shock, thinking, “How could the Israelites do such a horrendous thing to their children in the name of an idol?”
But after the shock wears off, I realize we’re not too different from the Israelites.
Our gods aren’t statues, but I even dare say our idols can be more difficult to spot. They’re usually neutral in and of themselves, and our world generally views them as good (sometimes even great) things, but they become idols when we put them in a wrongful place, above God.
All throughout Scripture, the Bible commands against idolatry (i.e., Ex. 20:3, 1 Cor. 10:14). John Piper defined idolatry as, “…the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God.” My husband also defines it as anything we’re willing to sin for, in order to gain or keep.
There’s much to be said on idolatry, but how are we guilty of this as it relates to that Leviticus passage? As parents, we’re commanded to disciple our children unto the Lord (Deut. 6:4-9, Eph. 6:1). They’re born sinners, rejecting God, and their greatest need is salvation. God gives parents authority in the home, and we’re to steward this well to teach our children about their ultimate authority, God. To follow these commands, we’re to teach our children to worship God alone. Our primary desire for them should be their salvation, and then their sanctification. Christ must be the center of our families, and though we’re not putting our children to death like the Israelites did, we “sacrifice” them to false gods when we disciple them to anything other than the Lord, saying “Worship _______, not God.”. We might claim God alone is worshiped in our families, but what do our actions express? What we emphasize as ultimate is what we teach them to worship. Truly, a look at our calendars and bank accounts indicate where our worship is directed.
Unfortunately, we may sacrifice our children to many idols. Some days, it’s ourselves. We want their obedience for selfish reasons, making our lives easier. Other times, it’s the idols of our phones. Our children need a parent to engage with them, but we instead scroll the internet.
Some families may bow to the idol of sports. I love sports and see value in them. However, they become idols when we sacrifice time in the Word, involvement in the local church, etc because of them. I was convicted of this when Hunter learned to talk. We laughed because he said, “Gamecocks” before “Mama”. The Spirit nudged me to evaluate if we taught him more about the Gamecocks or God. While sports bring us family fun, we must talk about Jesus way more than our favorite sports teams. For our family, we’ve set the priority that church times are non-negotiable. We’ve quickly learned the world won’t create this priority for us. The truth is, sports will fade. Even if our team wins the national championship or our children receive those coveted athletic scholarships, the fulfillment those bring are temporary. Only Christ is eternal. In fact, let’s rejoice more over the things of Christ (salvations, Gospel-opportunities, fruit-bearing, etc.) than touchdowns. They’re fun, but they don’t save. Also, every person, from the Tom Bradys to the little leaguers, will one day stand before Christ. Let’s spend more effort ensuring they’re prepared for this day, rather than ensuring they’re prepared for the next game.
Another altar is academics/career success, flashing large salaries and fancy careers at our children, instead of encouraging them to see Christ in college and career decisions. Nowhere in Scripture does it command us to ensure our children are wealthy. Instead, we’re commanded to teach them of Christ, where true stability is found. Let’s teach our children to have strong work ethics and do everything for God’s glory (Col. 3:17). But, let’s set them up for spiritual success by teaching them knowledge of God is far better than worldly knowledge.
In an article on idolatry, Ligonier Ministries states, “Every fallen culture has its idols, and we must be particularly sensitive to what the world is calling us to worship in place of the one true God.” The world wants us to worship anything but God- money, material possessions, “me-time”, or even our children themselves. An idol millions of children are sacrificed to daily is abortion. At the altar of convenience, reputation, money, and more, preborn babies are sacrificed. My heart breaks over this injustice. We must lovingly stand up against this, along with all other forms of idolatry.
From pregnancy, idols vy for the worship of our family. They shift from sleep schedules to college, but they remain. As I parent, I try to continually remember, “Seek first the Kingdom” (Matt. 6:33). At the end of the day, my children knowing and loving God is far more important than their academic accomplishments, athletic accolades, and everything else.
Friends, on the cross, Jesus took on God’s wrath for all sin, including our parenting failures. When conviction comes because we “sacrificed” our children to the idols of television or sports, we can praise God for his conviction (it’s an assurance of salvation), then repent. The Lord knows we can’t parent without him, so he equips us with his Spirit, the Word, prayer, and the local church, and pours his grace upon grace on us.
The last thing Satan wants is us to raise worshippers of God. Temptation will be at every turn, offering our families things that seem lovely. We must remember and see God as the most beautiful and worthy of worship. God conquered Satan, so in his power and strength, let’s daily battle to keep Christ on the throne of our families. May we teach our children only Christ is ultimate. By the grace of God, let’s raise up a generation that worships him!