Parenting and the Bible — without religion

Advice Parenting

by a former believer

I will be getting married in July. Afterwards, our next goal is to try to get pregnant. Probably too much information, but anticipating the possibility of children has brought up some questions that I haven’t found satisfactory answers or thoughts to, and I would like some input from others.


I know (academically, though not yet empirically) that parenthood is a process of facing a series of unknowns and that growth comes from the family and individuals navigating that uncertainty. One thing that is important to me, however, is to go into it having a clear idea of how to present ideas of God and Bible teachings to children. I think it would be important for my children to have knowledge of the Bible stories and teachings, if for nothing else than to have context (history and philosophy) for western civilization. I value having this background, which in my case was provided solely by Sunday church and seminary before I left home, and by church attendance and BYU religion classes afterward. My fiance is agnostic leaning toward athiesm. He was raised by his single mother who is a Jewish nonbeliever. He had exposure to some Jewish traditions, but never went to Hebrew school or synagogue, and he didn’t have a Bar Mitzvah. Now he feels that it would have been good to have this Judeo-Christian context and knowledge of the Bible, but he is adamant about not participating in any religion.

So I ask the following: How important is it to teach children the Bible and Judeo-Christian teachings as context for their lives in western culture? How important is it to frame these teachings as a belief system? Can either of these be done without participation in organized religion? If so, how??

It seems that participating in church, mormon or otherwise, would be an obvious answer and fix. I’m curious about your thoughts for how this has been or may be done outside of church participation.

7 thoughts on “Parenting and the Bible — without religion

  1. Biblical literacy is still very important to understand the culture that we live in. Fortunately, we don’t have to subject our children to indoctrination to expose them to the Bible.

    The Bible Literacy Project, for example, has put out a textbook on the Bible from a secular stance. It seems to be well reviewed. I plan to buy this for myself sometime.

    We can learn about the myths and history without being taught by religionists.

  2. Jonathan is right. The Bible is an important factor in our culture.

    If you are skeptical about religion then you can teach Biblical stories in the context of other ancient works such as Homer’s Odyssey or Greek and Norse mythology.

  3. Not that they are a great source of knowledge or even accurate archeological data, but the history channel (international) occasionally runs a “Mysteries of the Bible” series. I’ve watched these (with strange fascination) – and my husband and I agree that it would be okay to watch these programs (or something similiar) with our kids. The stories are discussed, some of the history is discussed, but some different view points are expressed. We will probably do other things but I know for certain we will want to do at least that.

    I completely agree with your husband that some bible as culture knowledge is important.

    I think it’s just important to expose them (when they’re old enough) to different points of view and to think critically. Many people will look at the bible as myth as Hellmut mentioned.

    Also – I have attended the Unitarian church and might attend more regularily at some point. It seems like there can be some framework for belief and community without the evangelical streak. YMMV. I have heard of some parents waiting until their kids are older (early teens) to really allowing them to decide if they want to attend church/the synagogue or not – and to explore different religions at that time. Best of luck to you – many parents struggle with this.

  4. I have always been fascinated by religions and think they is an important part of any culture/history. I plan to introduce many different ideas & beliefs of numerous religions as part of a learning experience. It isn’t as easy as thrusting one particular one, but hopefully will be more informative.

    Like Aerin, I often watch the discovery & history channel. –Very interesting!

  5. So I ask the following: How important is it to teach children the Bible and Judeo-Christian teachings as context for their lives in western culture? How important is it to frame these teachings as a belief system? Can either of these be done without participation in organized religion? If so, how??

    I enjoy the study of history, and the influence of the catholic church on early and middle european history. I also enjoy the early european period when the Norse/Romans/ amd Greeks ruled the waves.

    Teach them from an anthropological viewpoint and you should have nop problems.

  6. Although studying the Bible, Greek and Roman mythology, and other traditions is important, I would not rank such a study up there with studying the sciences.

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