Modern society poses a dilemma for many Christians, as people without faith often follow the moral and ethical standards Christianity proposes, although they don’t determine themselves to be Christian as they haven’t found salvation through Jesus. It’s a sad state of affairs to need to find people outside of the faith in order to promote values as taught by Jesus in daily life.
You don’t have control over who you interact with at work, and although you can choose who to conduct personal business with, to some extent this can also depend on your community and what is available in your area.
What you do have control over, however, is what kind of people you become personal friends with and welcome into your home and around your children. The dilemma comes into play when you meet someone you admire who follows the values of Christianity in the sense of treating others with respect and compassion. However, the same person may not identify as a Christian or any other religious identity.
The basic, fundamental Christian ethic is summed up by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you meet someone who follows this rule, they tend to be kind and generous, which if you’re like anyone else, makes you like them and want to develop a friendship. Such a person won’t criticize your beliefs, and you may not even realize they aren’t Christian until the topic comes up during a casual conversation.
It may not matter to a single person or young couple without any children, but as a family you want to share Christian faith and values with your children.
Part of the job of parenting is teaching children the faith and values they need to grow into responsible adults. They learn arithmetic, grammar, and history at school, but they learn values from their parents and to some extent the parents’ friends including the church family. Both types of learning are required for them to become responsible adults who contribute rather than detract from society. A friend who is a really good person but is not Christian can potentially set a bad example about the importance of maintaining a spiritual understanding of the world.
An understanding of faith is taught at home and at church, perhaps starting with Sunday morning daycare until the child is old enough to attend service. Then there is Sunday school, groups and activities for children and teen youth, and additional services during weekday evenings. By attending these events, children become accustomed to being around other Christians and in turn understand what expectations are held of them. As they get older, they will meet friends at school who don’t abide by your values. There is little you can do about such a situation, other than to be clear with your children about what you expect of them and don’t approve of behavior which isn’t reflective of such expectations.
The dilemma comes when a family friend is not a Christian. They’ll probably be respectful when you pray or discuss Bible passages, but won’t bring such topics up on their own or perhaps not even participate. Although the friend might be a good example for your children in all other aspects of their life, you don’t want your children to think you approve of someone who doesn’t seek forgiveness and salvation. At this point, you have to decide whether you want such a person to be part of your child’s upbringing. It isn’t an easy decision, but ultimately you have to decide who you want in your child’s life as they can and will learn values based on the friends you associate with.
To some extent, the final decision depends on your child and their understanding what the situation entails and what you expect of them. It also depends on what type of home you want to maintain.
The fact is, some people are more casual about their faith while for others it is a part of their every action in daily life. It really isn’t up to anyone to judge someone’s beliefs and lifestyle, other than to make a choice about whether you want them around your family.
~ 1776 Christian