My friend Kylie and I have been looking at D&C 68:25 and its warning to parents about not teaching children. We are playing with how the word “not” is being used. Is it a warning to those not teaching to believe, or to those teaching to not believe?
If it is the latter, then it would line up with 4th Nephi’s account of those who purposefully taught their families to not believe: 38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle. 39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.
This is similar to 2 Nephi 4:5-6: But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it. Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.
And reminds us of Jacob 3:9-10: Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
These passages seem to suggest that what D&C 68:25 might be warning against are just those parents who are purposefully raising up kids who won’t believe. This may give some relief to parents who are trying to teach but are always unsure that they are doing a good enough job. But, it also seems fair to say that there are parents who aren’t trying to teach either, and it would be reasonable to suggest that D&C 68:25 should be read as warning them (so, the first of the two readings of “not.”)
We noticed that Jacob 2 has this passage: 2:35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.
And also Jacob 3:10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.
While these parents were not purposefully teaching their children to not believe, the fathers were acting in such a way that they lost of the confidence of their children, which may perhaps amount to any chance to teach them to believe. In addition, Jacob himself says that because of their actions, they might bring their children unto destruction, and their sins would be on their heads.
Another, on-the-ground way this could be interpreted (though not quite what I think Jacob is describing) is that if a parent is saying one thing but doing another (teaching honesty but being dishonest) then what the child is taught is that no one really believes that honesty is important.
I have one more scripture that may point in this direction. D&C 68:31 says: Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness.
There are two ways to read this, I think. First, that because some adults are idlers, their children are ending up full of greediness. Second, that because some adults are idlers, their children are growing up in wickedness and the adults are not earnestly seeking the riches of eternity and the adults’ eyes are full of greediness. In this case, the children’s behavior is undecided. They are simply “growing up” in wickedness, which isn’t a good start to life.
In either reading, there is a connection between the idleness of parents and the wickedness of the children.
I’ve been thinking about this passage as well, which seems odd now in comparison with the ones above. See that there was a question about the sins of parents being on the heads of children:
Moses 6:53-54: And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden. Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.
I hadn’t thought about that question for a while so it seemed jarring after all this talk of sins of children being on heads of parents (or sins of a people being on heads of priests). But, also, now see how this conversation about the sins of the parents not being on the heads of children flows into a conversation about a parent being condemned for not teaching his children:
D&C 93:38-43: Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. 39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. 40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. 41 But verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation; 42 You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction. 43 And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house.