A recent survey conducted by the American Bible Society (ABS) found that 63% of Americans state that their current faith is the same as their mother’s faith when they were 10 years old.
It reveals the powerful impact that mothers have on the faith of their children. It was one that even the Apostle Paul recognized in Timothy.
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. (2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)
The Apostle Paul spoke of how this sincere faith had first originated in Timothy’s grandmother Lois, which was then transferred to her daughter Eunice and then to Timothy.
The ABS survey found that the impact of the faith transfer was more pronounced among specific religious groups:
- 69% of Evangelicals stated that their current faith reflected the faith of their mothers;
- As did 80% of those who attend historically black churches;
- 86% of Catholics: and
- 76% of those attending mainline denominations.
It seems a bit puzzling that Evangelical numbers are lower than the other three groups.
But I think it’s explained by my testimony. I became a Christian in my last year of university. My current faith is not the same faith that I had when I was ten years old.
I was saved, as were thousands of others when the Holy Spirit swept through the area where I live during the early 70s.
Nevertheless, at 69% it reveals the powerful role that mothers play in the faith of their children.
In its report, the ABS noted:
“The major finding is that a clear majority of Americans still follow ‘the faith of their mothers. The data verify the importance of parental guidance in spiritual development. ‘Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life’ (Proverbs 22:6 GNT).”
These findings are not unexpected, because God created moms and dads to transfer their faith to their children.
Genesis 1:26 says God created humans in the image and likeness of God.
The word likeness means that we are similar to God. We are like God in the sense of our emotions and thinking which allows us to have a relationship with God.
But the word image, Hebrew tselem, has a slightly different meaning. It means to be a representative or an idol. In fact, the same Hebrew word is used throughout the Old Testament to describe the stone and wood idols that the pagan nations constructed to represent their gods.
In Exodus 20:4-5, God warned Israel against making wood and stone idols and I love how the King James Bible describes them as graven images, (tselem).
This is because people are the image or the idol that reflects God.
But this leads to a bigger question: Why did God do this?
It would be somewhat redundant for us to walk around telling everyone how divine they look because we are all supposed to look divine.
I believe God made us in His image for the sake of the children. As children interact with their moms and dads, they gain an understanding of what God was like.
This would become a natural bridge leading to their own personal relationship with the Heavenly Father.
However, when sin came into the world, that image of God was horribly scarred, resulting in many of us having a distorted image of what God is like.
Nevertheless, in the beginning, God intended for parents to naturally transfer their faith to their children.