The Bible tells us that King Ahaz of Judah “burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:3). Later, Ahaz’s grandson, Manasseh, “caused his sons to pass through the fire” as well (2 Chronicles 33:6). Those apostate leaders of God’s people offered their children as human sacrifices to pagan deities. How sick! How sad for the innocent children, and how sad for the moral environment of the nation.

Surely all Christians look at the literal offering of literal kids in a literal fire as being repulsive. It is simply unthinkable that parents would do that with their kids, thinking that somehow such action would be helpful to someone. Yet, in modern times, in what some might deem to be more sophisticated manners, there are Christian parents who sacrifice their kids. They may not toss their kids into a literal fire or into the crocodile-infested waters of a river, yet, in a sense, they are turning their kids over to some type of “god.” This point is not hard to prove.

Some Christian parents offer their children to the “god” of secular education. We would never deny that receiving a solid secular education has the potential to be a great blessing for both males and females. But, that is a far cry from saying that secular education for their kids ought to be the number one desire for parents. It is a sad sight to observe that some Christian parents put so much emphasis on secular studies, paying large sums of money for their kids to receive special tutorial lessons and investing huge amounts of time to provide special learning opportunities for their kids so they can be “the best,” but at the same time they give little, if any, emphasis to those same kids learning God’s word, being at every Bible class of the local church, or joining in activities with other young folks from the congregation. Parents, the Lord expects us to seek first His Cause (Matthew 6:33), and our kids need to hear and see that in our decisions, including how we emphasize their secular education in comparison with how we value spiritual matters.

Other members of the church sacrifice their kids on the altar of enjoyment, including everything from participation in music and theatrical performances to sports and other recreational activities. If you suggest that kids participating in music, theatre, or sports has the potential to help them in life, you will not get any argument from me. What we do not want to develop, though, are scenarios in which we promote, either directly or indirectly, the mindset of being “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). When we allow or arrange for our kids to miss the services of the church in order to participate in fun stuff, then we are sending a message – a message that will stick with our kids and others for a long time.

We think of other parents who offer their kids to the “god” of money. In this case, it is the parents who are chasing after material riches and neglecting their kids in the process. Parents, make arrangements to spend time with your kids. Communicate with them. Invest time in them. Attend their special activities. Yes, they need you to provide the necessities of life for them, but they also need you in their lives. “The love of money” has caused many to be ensnared and drown in spiritual destruction (1 Timothy 6:9,10).

A number of years ago, I had a discussion with a police officer who was a brother to a friend of mine. I listened in horror and disgust as he told me about how common it was in that area for parents to sell their young daughters into prostitution. The parents would receive what they considered to be a large amount of money for this “sale.” That parents could be so unloving and so self-centered is unfathomable. Yet, some Christian parents who would consider such a choice to be wicked, basically cast aside their kids as they put their all into acquiring financial prowess.

Would it be unreasonable to propose that some parents sacrifice their kids to the “god” of worldly success? What I mean is, some parents make it a point to pound into the thinking of their children that “success” for them (the kids) is defined by accumulating material riches. Thus, per such parents’ mindset, what the kids need to do is put their greatest efforts into “getting ahead” in financial matters. What about their spiritual development? What about them coming to Jesus for rest? (Matthew 11:28). What about them setting their minds on things above (Colossians 3:1,2) as they strive to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? (2 Peter 3:18). Well, maybe later. Those things are secondary. At least they are in the mind of too many parents, and as a result their kids never become committed followers of the Christ. It is not difficult to understand why.

We agree that parents need to urge their kids to pursue success, but the success which we have in mind goes along with what Jehovah told His servant Joshua. God told him to meditate in and observe His law. With what promised result? “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Successful people are those who will hear the Master say on His day of judgment, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Think on these things.

— Roger D. Campbell