Let’s take a look at some of the men in America’s history–including our Founders, most of whom were fathers. Their writings reveal that they believed a knowledge of and reliance on the Scriptures was an important part of being a father.
In fact, a young Daniel Webster recounted a conversation he had with an elderly Thomas Jefferson on this point. Jefferson told him:
I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.
The Founders believed that it was their duty not only to rely on the Bible but also to teach it to their children. For example, John Adams (who spent a good portion of the War for Independence away from his family) outlined to his precious wife, Abigail, the education their children should receive:
The education of our children is never out of my mind. Train them to virtue. Habituate them to industry, activity and spirit. Make them consider every vice as shameful and unmanly. Fire them with ambition to be useful. Make them disdain to be destitute of any useful or ornamental knowledge or accomplishment. Fix their ambition upon great and solid objects, and their contempt upon little, frivolous and useless ones.
John Quincy Adams took the lessons he learned from his own parents to heart and later encouraged his own son to read the Bible for the wisdom and virtue it encourages:
I advise you, my son, in whatever you read, and most of all in reading the Bible, to remember that it is for the purpose of making you wiser and more virtuous. I have myself, for many years, made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. I have always endeavored to read it with the same spirit and temper of mind, which I now recommend to you: that is, with the intention and desire that it may contribute to my advancement in wisdom and virtue.
And after Thomas Paine penned his Age of Reason attacking Christianity and the Bible, Founding Father Elias Boudinot wrote a book to refute Paine, dedicating that book to his daughter, Susan, telling her:
I was much mortified to find the whole force of this man’s vain genius pointed at the youth of America….This awful consequence created some alarm in my mind lest at any future day you, my beloved child, might take up this plausible address of infidelity….I have endeavored to…show his extreme ignorance of the Divine Scriptures…not knowing that “they are the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth” [Romans 1:16].
Clearly, our Founders who were fathers considered the Bible to be indispensable for their own lives, and strongly inculcated its use in their children. This is an excellent lesson for us to pass on to our children.