Last night I had to do a late run to Wal-Mart. As I was entering the store a woman and her two daughters were leaving. I heard them singing something together, and my heart leapt as I considered that maybe, just maybe, this woman was singing a catechism song with her daughters (I have quite an imagination!). I was, of course, disappointed, as I drew nearer to discover that this woman was not impressing on her daughters the importance of knowing the Lord, or reciting Scripture. Instead, they were singing a song by Katy Perry:
Cuz I am a champion / And you're gonna hear me roar!I know what you're thinking: "defecation," the music of Katy Perry... this is the part where Adam is going to tie it all together. You already see the connection. Well, hang in there a bit longer.
This woman and her daughters were singing an anthem of grrrll power. An ode to personal independence. A sugary, fist-pumping trip down pop music lane. As I walked past them, I chided myself for the initial flight of fancy that gave birth to this moment of disappointment. Cynicism is an infallible defense against disappointment, and I let myself slip. I've already decided not to make the same mistake twice. But what struck me, almost immediately, was the realization that Everyone Catechizes. This woman really was catechizing her daughters.
"You shall teach [God's words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 11:19).I don't mean to judge this woman. I waste my time with my own children all the time, doing trivial silly things and making them experts in Star Wars lore. I am not the example I wish I was of how to educate one's children in the way of the Lord. Like most of my classmates at Seminary, I wasn't raised on formal catechisms. My point is not to say, "Be a good parent! Stop being so bad!" My point is that we need to be aware that we don't get to choose whether to catechize our kids or not.
I speak to people often who say they don't want to catechize their children with something like the Westminster Shorter Catechism because they simply didn't learn it themselves like that. Some of them say that a formal teaching method like that just isn't appealing. There are other reasons too, of course, but the point is that everyone catechizes their children. Everyone tells their children what matters most, either with their lives, or with their words, or with the songs they sing coming out of Wal-Mart. As parents, we must become more self-aware and purposeful.
The question, then, is not whether you, as a parent, will catechize your children; everyone catechizes! The question is, with what will you catechize them?