I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years. For the last 9 years a part of my focus has been on the challenges boys face in the 21st Century, and the challenge churches face in keeping boys engaged. 70-90% of all boys will leave the Christian Church, and most won’t come back.
I assume the writer of that comment believes that religion in general and Christianity specifically is a bunch of poppy cock, or worse (and as I engage them in discussion, I find that this is generally the case.) Because they find the claims of the Gospel unbelievable or because they have too often seen the hypocrisy of Christians or because they have been deeply hurt by the Church, many see the Church as a brain-washing organization corrupting all in its path.
But couldn’t we say the same about any and all influences under which our children grow up? Certainly advertising seeks to brain-wash our kids into buying a certain dvd or video game. News organizations too often slant a story in an attempt to shape our thinking about the story (i.e., brain-wash us). Politicians try to brain-wash us all the time! Educators brain-wash our kids in every subject they teach (meaning they seek to put stuff into the brains of our kids that they or society or the government deem important.)
Our kids are being brain-washed all the time. It’s the only way they can learn—someone washes over their brains with information, experiences, opinions, etc.
All parents brain-wash their kids. We brain-wash them with our values, our beliefs, our priorities, our politics, our habits. As we should.
When people applaud the decline in church-goers, for example, because fewer and fewer people are being brain-washed, my reply is this:
Why wouldn’t you want kids (and adults) brain-washed with grace? With forgiveness? With generosity? With a passion for justice? With unconditional acceptance and love? With hope? With a heart for serving others? With purpose and significance?
Would you rather continue to hand over the washing or your child’s brain to consumerism, entitlement, self-centeredness, self-importance, intolerance, violence, and small-mindedness?
Having said that, admittedly Christians haven’t always been good at living out the brain-washing power of grace, love, and acceptance. We can be a judgmental, hypocritical group of people who pass on (i.e., brain-wash) those destructive values onto our kids.
But the Spirit of God wants to wash our brains with something far more life-giving:
In the past we also were foolish. We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We spent our lives doing evil and being jealous. People hated us, and we hated each other. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was shown, he saved us because of his mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit. God poured out richly upon us that Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior. Being made right with God by his grace, we could have the hope of receiving the life that never ends. (Titus 3:3-7; New Century Version)
I whole-heartedly believe in brain-washing our kids—and brain-washing them with a God of grace who loves us in spite of the stuff gunking up our brains, like sin, self-centeredness, me-ism, etc.
If we don’t take the lead in brain-washing our kids, someone else will.
Imagine what could happen in a world with kids brain-washed with grace, mercy, sacrifice, honor, love, and forgiveness. They could wash up a dirty world and change it.