“Do not Commit Spiritual Infanticide”: Charles Spurgeon’s Parenting Advice

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  • O ye parents, do not follow trades which will ruin your children, do not select houses where they will be cast in evil society, do not bring depraved persons with your doors to defile them! For a man to lead others like himself into temptation is bad enough; but to sow the vile seed of vice in hearts that are as yet untainted by any gross, actual sin, is a hideous piece of wickedness. Do not commit spiritual infanticide.

This is the heartbeat of a sermon entitled, “Do Not Sin Against the Child,” by Charles Spurgeon given at a prayer meeting.[1] The sermon is an exhortation to lead children into righteousness and bring them to Christ by any means. Spurgeon warns against the all-too-common failures of parenting which lead children away from the Church and away from Christ. Parents are tempted to give into the vices of their children and the culture. This capitulation too often leads to spiritual infanticide.

Nothing drives children of good parents away from the church and into the arms of the culture quite like youth sports.


Spurgeon prompts us to think, “How does our job affect our children’s spiritual growth?” In the quote above, Spurgeon suggests that some trades will ruin our children. How can this be? What about our jobs leads our children away from Christ?

Many parents share common anxieties, such as: “How will I feed my children?” “What if this is the only job I’ll have?” “What if I underperform?” These anxieties are reasonable, as they are directly linked to providing for the family. Parents have been tasked with feeding their children, but we must consider the bread we are feeding them. Children will get hungry again. They will eat the hard-earned meal you provided for them and will grow hungry soon after. (How much more true for teenage boys!) But there is a meal you can provide for your children that will never leave them hungry again. They will be satisfied for all eternity because you fed them Christ.

Spurgeon wants each one of us to think, “Is my job allowing me to feed my children, spiritually?” Does your job require you to work Sundays? Does it require you to work 80-hour weeks and miss out on family devotion? Does your job allow you to be the spiritual leader your children require? We must consider all these questions. I’m afraid many successful men and women have sacrificed their children on the altar of work success and security. Is your vocation leading your children toward or away from Christ?

Youth Sports

Similarly, do your children have an appropriate relationship with their sports? I spent several years in youth ministry. Without fail, when a new sports season rolled around, students began missing our Bible studies. Even worse, some regularly missed the Sunday morning worship.  These students wanted to play their sports more than go to church, and their parents obliged.

Sadly, many parents would themselves rather watch an exciting baseball game than attend church. I have observed in my years in ministry that nothing drives children of good parents away from the church and into the arms of the culture quite like youth sports. Secular education is driving children away, but most people realize that. You poll the average church goer, and they cite public education as the major contributor to the secularization of children.

But I have observed that those same churchgoers would forsake years (as young as little league) of church for their children to enjoy a sport. The statistics are quite clear: your child probably won’t become a professional athlete, but they absolutely will stand before the God of the universe. Spurgeon would urge us not to offer our children on the altar of youth sports. Do everything you can to cultivate in your children a deep love for exercise and competition without sacrificing their souls.

Sunday School

  • Now, dear Sunday School teachers… ‘do not sin against the child’ by coming to your class with a chilly heart. Why should you make your children cold toward divine truths?”[2]

Spurgeon here gets us thinking: “How am I to lead my children to Christ after I have brought them to church?” “What can I do to show them the truth better?”

Churches that provide programming for children in the form of Sunday School, RA’s and GA’s, and preschool care do an excellent service to parents. But for those parents and teachers, Spurgeon wants us to check our hearts. “Am I teaching this lesson with a cold heart?” “Am I just bringing my kids to church for an hour of free babysitting?”

You have a tremendous opportunity as a parent to cultivate a love for the church and a love for the Bible when you bring your children to church. Don’t just drop them off and pick them up. Get involved. Become a teacher, even if the class doesn’t have your child in it. Pick your child up from her class and ask her what she learned. Know the material ahead of time so you can ask good questions. If you are a teacher, be excited! You get to teach the truth of the gospel to many who have never heard it before or who have not yet believed. You are missionary. You are a gospel proclaimer. If you would be disappointed in your pastor preaching a “cold” sermon, consider your heart when you teach your children.


  • In a word, ‘do not sin against the child,’ but train it in the way it should go, and bring it to Jesus that he may bless it.”[3]

Spurgeon encourages us to carefully examine every area of our lives and how we are leading our children to Christ. You have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity as a parent to show your children Christ. How are the elements of your life aiding or hindering that work?

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[1] Spurgeon, Only a Prayer Meeting, 68.

[2] Spurgeon, Only a Prayer Meeting, 73.

[3] Spurgeon, Only a Prayer Meeting, 74.

  • ministry
  • parenting
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Alan Patrick

Alan currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the Glenrock Baptist Church in Fort Mill, SC. He is a graduate of the College at Southeastern and is currently pursuing his M.Div. from SEBTS as well. Alan’s desire is to see others experience the true freedom of the gospel and the joy of obedience to Christ.

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