But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 16:6 (KJV)I've briefly mentioned my children before and the role they played in my apostasy and how my wife and I took very seriously what we understood to be our duty as parents to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We were intent on diligently teaching his commands to them, speaking of them when we sat in our house or walked by the way. Not only did we feel compelled by scriptural mandates and encouraged by our church's culture, we also had other, stronger motives to completely inundate them with Christian dogma.
For my wife's part, she had never felt her faith was authentically experienced. Any time she heard a sermon about what preachers would call "coattails Christianity" – an expression meant to convey the idea that one's relationship with God is vicarious and that one is attempting to ride the coattails of another, usually parents, into heaven – she would worry that she was one of those people. While she never doubted the existence of God and wholeheartedly believed the gospel message, she constantly doubted her salvation because the whole thing never felt real in the way others seemed to think it should. Things like prayer had to be forced and and did not come naturally. She felt she could never understand the Bible on her own when she read it, much less explain it to someone else.