Mama Bear apologetics. It's like doing whatever you have to do to protect your child, no matter how much you don't want to do it. But if it's going to protect your child, you're going to rise up and do it and do it with fury. What if we could take that Mama Bear instinct and then channel it towards looking at challenges and defenses of the Christian faith? Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most.
I'm Ann Wilson, and I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Okay, so if you think back to when we were raising our boys, you know, before they're out of the house, married, now grandkids, what would you say as a parent was your biggest concern spiritually for their lives? Hmm, what I hoped was that they would walk with Jesus and be totally surrendered to him.
My concern is that I would fail in being able to communicate that. And I have so many and my fear was that the world would shape them instead of the gospel. Yeah, and I thought you'd say something like that. And one of my fears was that their faith would be so shallow that when they left our home, it could be destroyed. What?
I didn't know that. Yeah, I mean, there was part of me as a dad, at least. But you're also the pastor. Yeah, and that's part of the reason is like, am I giving them enough depth, foundation, so that when those beliefs are challenged, they can stand up and say, No, no, no, what you're saying is a lie because of this and that. I think so many parents worry about that, especially when our kids leave the house and they go to college, don't you? That's why we're talking about this today.
Yes. Because we have the woman that can help us really do this. We have the mama bear.
We have Hilary Morgan Ferrer in our studio. And again, you could tell us in a minute why you're called the mama bear of apologetics. But first of all, welcome to Family Life Today. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
I've had a great time so far. Yeah, when I picked up your book, and I know you've written a couple, but Mama Bear Apologetics, Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies. Of course, my first question was, what is a mama bear?
And what does that mean? Every mom knows what a mama bear is. I was going to say, every woman's like, I don't know.
I just know I am one. And the men are like, What does that mean? It's going all philosophical. But yeah, mama bear. So I originally thought of it, there was a woman, and I think we have this in the introduction to the book, where she was talking about how she had raised her boys in the church, and that she had, they'd gotten to Alana, they'd gotten to youth group, and one of them had even rededicated his life. And when he went away to college, he was fine. It wasn't until his first job that his boss basically said, Jesus is like Santa Claus for adults.
And for some reason, that just rocked him. And so she was talking about how every time he came home, she was saying, Okay, tell me your questions. And she would go and research. She wasn't academically inclined.
She was a fitness instructor, was kind of more, you know, like the physical stuff, but she would dive into apologetics and philosophy and history and geology, whatever it was that he needed to have a question answered. She was going to do and I thought that's an instinct that I don't think we've really seen. But I think all moms have it. It's doing whatever you have to do to protect your child, no matter how much you don't want to do it. But if it's going to protect your child, you're going to rise up and do it and do it with fury. Yes, that's what a mama bear does. She protects her kids.
But I love that. She was super intentional. It wasn't even her thing. But she thought, I'm going to protect my kids.
I'm going to protect this son to dig in and to find out. So you started a ministry. Yeah, I never thought it would become what it's become today. But I just thought, you know what, mama bear apologetics, it's like I just had this phrase going through my head of what if we could take that mama bear instinct, and then channel it towards looking at challenges and defenses of the Christian faith, and kind of just repackage it like that. Because a lot of times I think people think of apologetics as trying to either talk to people who are unconverted or trying to answer skeptics or atheists, which very rarely is, are you ever going to see really full successful apologetics used in that way? Apologetics was introduced to me when I was young, and I attribute it to the reason why I never walked away from the faith, because I couldn't know what I knew. And I just knew that I knew that I knew because of the evidence for the resurrection, the evidences for the reliability of the New Testament documents. I was grounded in that at age 12 was when it was introduced to me by my pastor. And walking away from the faith, I felt like I would have to check my brain at the door to walk away from the faith, which is the opposite of what most people think. You have to check your brain at the door to become a follower.
And we as parents, though, are called to develop our children's faith. But why moms? You know what? So I came across this quote saying that the average mom, especially of young children, gets more questions per hour than the Queen of England does in an interview. And I thought that's totally true.
I've seen that. I was that child. And so it's like moms just have the questions. Kids come to mom with the questions first. One of my ministry partners, Amy, I saw some research on it that basically everything, kids were asked, who do you ask first for this type of question, this type of question, all age groups and everything. It was always mom until it was like, maybe in the mid teens and politics, and then they went to dad. But everything else, they would go to mom first.
And so I thought this is the one we need to be equipping. And I also noticed that every other conference you'll have in a church, they'll have childcare until you go to an apologetics conference, and then there's not childcare. And so since a lot of times men have traditionally been more interested in apologetics, the men have gone and the women have stayed home because someone has to take care of the kids. And so I thought we need to be reaching the moms with this. They are that apologist you can have in every home that are very, very motivated to see their child grow in this area just because of that nurturing aspect of being a mama bear. Yeah, I mean, that is so true.
And I hear you say that. I'm like, wow, that is a unique perspective to think, why aren't women? But there's also this side where a lot of women might look at your background and go, well, you know, Hillary is schooled and you have a master's in biology. I'm sure the sciences are big in your brain.
A lot of men and women would say, well, that's not my background. And some moms are like, I'm dumb. I can barely think my brain cells are gone and I can't even have to make dinner.
I don't even know what to have. And now I need to do apologetics with my kids. Yeah. And so I very purposely wanted to make the books fun and funny just because it's like no one wants to read a textbook when you've got soccer practice and dinner and folding the laundry. So first off, we started out thinking we were going to mostly do audio stuff because I think women have this unique ability to listen to a conversation, not a lecture, a conversation no matter what they're doing.
Because everybody knows the mom that's like talking to someone else and doing the laundry and then screams at something across the house for the kids because she overheard part of that conversation. So like I wanted everything that we did to be very conversational. And so I purposely, it's so much harder to take a lot of the kind of book learning and the philosophy and to boil it down in a way that is fun and funny.
That is so much harder than writing for academic stuff. And so it really was a challenge, but I wanted to make it to where moms felt like I can do this. I mean, we can all do this. Let's all do it together. In fact, that's my email signature.
We're all in this together. So yeah, so that's what we really aim for with the book when the publisher came and asked us for a book. Some people might be listening and going, okay, I'm not even sure I understand the word apologetics. We're using it in your title and we're just talking like we know.
Are we apologizing for something? Yeah, exactly. So explain it and help us understand what it means.
Yeah. So the Greek word apologia means to give a defense for. So it's for the ones that are growing up in a Christian family. You're not necessarily having to defend them against their objections, but you're building up their faith to where it is a firm foundation that can withhold the questions from science and from philosophy, from archaeology, all those different things. And it's just building that more robust faith. My husband and I have had so many people challenge us on this saying, well, if you knew everything, then why would you need faith?
And you can't argue people into the kingdom. I mean, you name it, we've heard it. Yeah, I bet.
Yeah. But I like the passage from Hebrews 11 where it talks about now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. And I'm not sure which version that's in.
That's the one I guess I memorized when I was in high school or middle school, whenever. So anything that makes you more sure and more certain, which is the evidential aspect of the faith, anything that makes you think stronger about this, more sure, more certain, that actually increases your faith. And I think a lot of times people don't understand that because they have this bogus definition of faith where, what was it, Roy Rogers, faith is believing in something you know ain't so. That's not the definition of Christian faith. It's like, you would not say I have faith in my accountant if you had never worked with that accountant before. It's because they have faithfully followed through and you've seen the evidences of them being faithful. That's why you have faith in them. And it's the same way with Christ that we see how all the claims that we see in the Bible can withstand any kind of objections the world has to throw at it.
And we can say because of that, my faith is even stronger. So, Hillary, when should we start? As moms and dads, when should we start talking about this stuff and teaching?
Oh, golly, I don't think it's ever too young. I mean, of course, we want to start out with the basics. They need to know what we're believing. But once they get to the point where they can start asking questions, answering those questions, I think, needs to be a part of our regular discipleship. Because one of the things I think that happens with kids is that every time either a question isn't answered or answered poorly or just kind of slept to the side, they kind of stick that in their back pocket thinking, oh, that's too bad. And one day, if something really big happens, either something emotional or a sin that they don't want to give up, all of a sudden, they want to walk away from the faith and they'll pull out that list of questions they never had answered. But in my experience from growing up with apologetics, what I discovered was whenever I had these, even questions I didn't know I had, because I didn't even know I had these questions when it was first presented to me, but I had this history of really tough questions have really good answers. And so, whenever I would get to a point where there was a tough question that I didn't have the answer to, I could, at that point, in faith say, there's probably a good answer to that if I look for it.
And if I had always had the experience of there's not good answers, I wouldn't even go looking for them. Okay, I have a question for you, because this happened in our house, and I'm going to have you answer the question. No pressure. Okay. Our son was four, and we had been reading about King David and Goliath. Yeah. And so, we read the whole story, went through it, and then he's going to bed and he goes, so, Mom, so David loves God, he's following God, but then he cuts off Goliath's head.
Why is it okay for David to kill someone? But then it also says in the Bible that we shouldn't kill anyone, which is such a good question for a four-year-old. Yes. For any age, that's great.
For any age, we're the smartest kids ever born in the planet. Of course. Yeah, no, I think that that would probably be going into the difference between war and murder. I think there is a difference in that. And, I mean, these were the people, if you looked at them, they were taunting and mocking the living God. And God, in the time of Israel, was showing his status as God when you had all these other gods that people would claim saying, I am the Lord.
I am the Lord over all these other gods. Yeah, so I think God sometimes uses people to execute judgment. Now, I don't think he does that today with our laws now, but back when you had a theocracy as opposed to a government, the Lord had the right to have capital punishment. And he had the right to ask people to execute capital punishment.
So I guess I would talk to them about the laws of the land versus the laws of God, what kind of government we're in, as much as, you know, a four-year-old can understand that. And that's pretty much what you answered, Dave. Oh, did I answer that one? You came in, and I loved what Dave said.
That was my papa bear apologising. I was thinking like, oh no, this is only the beginning of questions that are going to be difficult. But I love that Dave walked into the room and he said, man, I'm so excited that you're asking those kind of questions. Yes. Even that, like, what a great question. And to be excited and not fearful when our kids pose those questions.
Yeah, he sort of, as a parent, at least my perspective is I wanted them. Yeah. To be asking questions. I'm wired that way. I'm always asking questions. Me too.
I want to dig deeper. It was never fearful to me. It was like exciting. Like, I'd rather have them asking them while they're still under our roof than later. Yeah.
And of course, they're going to keep asking them. But I wanted to encourage it. Yeah.
But at the same time, I think a lot of parents are afraid of it, maybe because they don't know. Yeah. What they believe and what they're going to teach. How do you help them?
They need to get all of Hillary's stuff. I know. Because they will know.
I know. Yeah, I would say just the idea of encouraging questions, it's like that is evidence that your child is trying to piece together this worldview. And you want your child to piece together the worldview because if he or she pieces it together with you, then it's going to be a lot harder to destroy than if someone pieced it together for him and then someone comes and bumps the table of his little puzzle there and all of a sudden he doesn't know how everything fit together because he didn't put it together in the first place. Yeah. And I know you do this almost daily now with especially moms. How are you helping them ground their own faith so that they can answer and pass that on to their kids?
Yeah. There was a study done, I believe, by Fuller Youth Institute that talked about a doubt. And one of the things that they said that helps alleviate doubts was just being able to express the questions.
And so many people who have walked away from the church have said the church was hostile to my questions. So it's like, I think we want to be encouraged that sometimes you don't even have to have all the answers. Encouraging them to ask the questions is going to at least take away some of that, you know, it just kind of takes the wind out of the intensity of it. So encouraging the questions first and then maybe having a book. This is one of the things that I would love to do is have a book where if we get a really good question, let's go write it down in the book. And then we're going to spend some time as a family sometimes researching this or finding a book that we want to read together. Like, maybe we notice a bunch of these questions have a similar theme. Okay, well, let's crowdsource to see if there's a book out there that answers a lot of these and so start going through that together. And so it's having that follow through, but you don't have to have all the answers right away.
So there's that. And there's also if they're young enough, and this is like if you get it young enough presenting the question before they have the question where they go, Oh, yeah, I guess that's a good question. So say like Natasha Crane's books are great for that because it has a ton of different questions and discussion guides that you can go through where you start doing that as a family and you actually preempt some of the questions. So parents need to know that you don't always have to have the answer right off the bat just encouraging the question itself that creates a safe and opening environment for your child's faith to grow. I think that's such a good idea to sit at the table and even especially as your kids get older.
What are the questions you have about the Bible about God? Let's just talk about those. And I like the idea of writing them in the book because your kids would think, oh, they're taking like this is for real. Yeah, they're taking this seriously. Yeah. And we're going to talk about it. And they're not saying they know all the answers, but they're saying like, let's research that.
Let's find out more. I think that that's a great posture because it's teaching our families and kids how to become biblical thinkers. And I think that's really important. Yeah, and one of the questions that I think a lot of parents have is are kids walking away? You know, you hear that our kids are growing up in our homes and maybe going to youth groups and maybe part of our church. And then when they go to college or leave, at least you hear they're all walking away. And I know they're not all walking away, but what is happening?
Yeah. So we're seeing kids, it's like walking away from what? Are they walking away from church or are they walking away from Orthodox Christian belief?
Because I think we would be surprised at how many people who claim to be Christians actually don't believe what the Bible actually teaches. So first off that, and second of all, people notice when they walk away in college, but a lot of times the process started much earlier. And a lot of times somewhere around middle school, middle school and high school is when that process started and they keep going to church because that's what their family does.
That's what their parents do. But mentally, they have already kind of started to distance themselves. And there are some who do return and who do come back. And I think we have all these statistics in chapter one, which I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think especially now we have even more that are leaving. So I think Pew Research just came out for the people who identify as a religious nun, and we're not talking about nun like a Catholic nun, but N-O-N-E, you know, back in 1950 was 3%. And then in the nineties, it went up to, I think 8%.
And then maybe 2014, it was up into the 21%. And now it's almost a third of all adults say that they have no religious preference. But then you look at the ones that still do have a religious preference and what do they actually believe about the Bible, and it is not a biblical worldview. So I think we need to get past this idea that we're living in a Christian nation. This is a post-Christian nation, and we can't rely on culture to reinforce these ideas. I think even back when I was young, we still had a lot of positive peer pressure for church, especially in the South, for church and for religion, for Christianity, but that's not assumed anymore. It's like we kind of have to almost be treating this like we're raising kids in a semi-hostile territory. And so being able to establish their cultural identity as a Christian saying this is what our family follows, this is what we believe, this is why we believe it, and this is how we are going to separate ourselves from the rest of the world while still loving those who are around us.
It's a completely different calling than what we had before. But anyway, I do think the statistics are showing that so many are walking away, but not all of them. So here's my question.
If I'm a parent and I'm raising my kids the way I hope I want to raise them, I've seen them come to Christ in faith, maybe in their middle school years or even earlier, high school, but I'm starting to see them walk away, whatever we define that as, from their parents' faith or from the faith they once professed. What do I do? I'm not a mama bear. I'm a papa bear. But mama bear or papa bear, what do we do? We start to see it. We start to see this drift and it's the opposite of what we dreamed our whole life. And there it is right in front of us, maybe still in our home.
What do we do? That's David Ann Wilson with Hillary Morgan Ferrer on Family Life Today. We'll hear Hillary's response in just a second. But first, as a listener at Family Life Today, you have heard many stories of how God can do amazing work in even the toughest marriages. And the amazing thing is that God chooses to use people just like you to help. One way you can make an impact for more marriages and families is by financially partnering with Family Life Today. All this week, as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Hillary Ferrer's book as our thanks. It's called Mama Bear Apologetics.
You can get your copy when you give this week at familylifetoday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to David Ann's conversation with Hillary Ferrer about what we do when we start to see our kids walk away from the faith. I think that's where you start asking questions and you really start listening because a lot of times, there's going to be a root and it might be a root that's different than what is expressed to you. Right now, personally, from what I've seen and from what I've heard from a lot of parents is that the root right now is gender and sexual identity, that it's actually messing with this idea of what does it mean to be male?
What does it mean to be female? Because if we don't have male and female, if we don't even know what that is, then we don't know what the image of God is, image and likeness of God. If we don't know what the image and likeness of God is, we don't know who it is that we're worshiping. And so, it's kind of one of these things that my pastor referred to as kind of the long game in terms of falling away and in terms of what the enemy is actually attacking. He may not be going straight away for that faith. He might be going for a foundation to that faith. Right now, just the whole LGBT movement, I think, is undermining a lot of things and I see kids start to fall in line with culture on that and it kind of slowly starts morphing them and their ability to see God accurately.
So, that's one thing. Sometimes it can be something emotional that's been going on where they don't understand the goodness of God because they're suffering in a way that we can't see. We look at the mental health statistics for young people and especially, basically, once you introduce the smartphone, mental health issues have been steadily rising since that time. So, I would start looking at what some of the roots are, talking to them, seeing what they actually believe, and then loving them through that. Back before we had any of this technology, we all still had identity crises at that age and how much more compounded is that now with just all the technology that we have.
Right. So, you're saying, like, get in there, know your kids, ask them questions. I think sometimes as parents, we can get fearful and so we pull away thinking, oh no, oh no.
But I think as parents to first, like, get on your knees. I've prayed countless hours for my kids and I have this place in the woods where I have these rocks and I have dates on the rocks of what I've prayed for and I've created this. Like an altar. It's an altar. I love that. It's a monument. Oh.
I just went back to it the other day. It makes me teary because my dad just passed away and my mom not too long ago and I put their dates on there and I just thank God, like, Lord, this has been an answered prayer of what you've done in my parents. But I can't tell you hundreds, hundreds of these little rocks of, Lord, I'm praying this for my kids. Like, when you feel like they're slipping or they're questioning, to not run away from it.
But first, go to the father who already knows what's happening and loves them. But then to start asking my kids questions like, guys, what's going on? Like, what do you think? And don't jump on their answers in fear like, that's wrong and you shouldn't be thinking that. It's that question of, tell me more and, oh, that's interesting. And even ask this question if your kids feel like they're not going to answer truthfully. Ask them this. What are your friends? What are kids in school?
Yes. That's a good way of kind of getting around. What do you hear other people in school saying about X, Y, Z topic? And that way, it depersonalizes it and it's not, this is what I think, it's, oh, I've kind of heard this and they can interact with that idea without feeling like it's going to be a person.
Yes, that's excellent. My parents aren't going to freak out if I say, I'm feeling this. But when they say my friends and don't, I made this mistake one time, I remember saying to my son, oh, is that that bad kid that smokes pot? Oh, my, and he said, is he bad, mom, because he smokes pot? Is that what he is? And I've learned, like, don't judge the kids and what they're doing or what they're feeling or what they're saying. But ask genuine questions like, tell me more like about your friends, what they're thinking, but don't place judgment of good or bad on their friends for thinking that. Be careful because God loves all of us and sees us all.
Yeah. And I love the prayer you put in your book. I mean, I wrote it down in my notes, just a sample prayer. I'll read it to you. It says, help me to teach my children to hold the biblical rather than cultural definitions. May my children never align the Bible to their thinking, but rather align their thinking to your word.
Oh, God. I just thought, what a beautiful prayer for us as parents. One of the things that we've mentioned here many times is when our oldest CJ was born thirty-six years ago, I took Fridays and started fasting.
And I thought I'd do that for a couple months. Can I even tell you how powerful fasting is? And especially for, I don't know if this is an isolated thing, but having a male in authority, my husband fasts for me and there's going to be times, it's not very often, he loves his food, but I get to the point of where there's so much chaos in my brain that I can't even think straight. And when I can't even pray for me anymore, I'll say, John, it's time I need you to fast for me. And it's like for those days that he's fasting, there really is something spiritual that happens. There's just this, I don't know, it's like being in a pouring rain and someone just puts an umbrella over you for that period of time and just covers you. So kudos to you for fasting for your kids.
I think spiritual strongholds get broken with fasting and I don't know why and I don't, I can't explain it, but there's something about it. Well, I'm thirty-six years in now and I'm just saying to the parent who's maybe fearful of what their children are walking into or what they're starting to believe, you can pick up Mama Bear Apologetics, which would be very helpful. And I'd say you also have to get on your knees and say, God, I can't do this.
Only you can do this. And I'm going to surrender again my child to you and I'm asking you to do a miracle. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Hillary Morgan-Ferer on Family Life Today. Her book is called Mama Bear Apologetics, and you can get your copy when you give this week at FamilyLifeToday.com. If you know anyone who needs to hear conversations just like the one you heard today, we'd love it if you'd tell them about this station and you could share today's specific conversation from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, a simple way you can help more people discover God's plan for families is by leaving a rating and review for Family Life Today. And tomorrow, Dave and Anne Wilson will continue their conversation with Hillary Ferer when she lays down some easy, realistic ways to start engaging your kids to build their biblical foundation. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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