Talking to Kids About Issues Like Yoga and Meditation

April 25, 2023

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In today's episode, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses a common question: "How do we talk with our kids about borderline things like yoga and meditation?" Tune in to learn how to distinguish between essential Christian doctrines and personal convictions, why it's crucial to root our beliefs in scripture, and how to navigate discussions about potentially controversial practices within the Christian community. Don't miss this insightful conversation to help you and your children better understand and apply the biblical worldview in today's culture.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "how do we talk with our kids about borderline things like yoga and meditation? These things are not necessarily against God, but can be distracting from truly following God." Great question and one that I'm sure so many people are wondering just about a host of different things that we find in our culture today.

Now, before we dive down into this question, would just ask if you have found the content of this podcast to be beneficial, we ask that you would consider liking and subscribing to make sure that you don't miss a future episode, and also ask that you would consider writing a review and sharing this content within your sphere of influence so that we can equip more adults to get the kids in our care carefully evaluating all ideas.

Now, as we think through this question, what should we do with things that are kind of borderline, things like yoga and meditation and that Christians disagree on? I think one thing that is super important to recognize is that we need to equip our children to discern the difference between issues that the Bible clearly and directly addresses, and those over which Christians have some disagreement with how to apply biblical principles. There's nothing in the Bible that says thou shall not do yoga. That's not a command in scripture where there are things in scripture that are clearly commanded and there are doctrines in scripture that are very clearly outlined. And so that's what we want to equip our kids to distinguish the difference between the two, that these are things that are clearly taught in scripture that we are to believe that we are to follow. And then these are things that we find in our world that Christians disagree over how we apply the Bible to these different situations.

Things that scripture is clear on is the deity of Jesus, that Jesus is God. That's something that's very clearly woven throughout the entire New Testament, the deity of Christ. Attributes of God, like God's holiness, the fact that he is perfect, that he is completely other than us. That's something that's very clearly portrayed in scripture. Something else would be salvation through Jesus alone, that's very clearly portrayed in scripture. Then there's certain commands, the different commands for sexuality, that those who are unmarried are to be chased. They're to honor God and their sexuality through being chased, and those who are married are to honor God through being faithful to their spouse. Other things that were commanded to speak the truth and to put away falsehood commands to be kind and compassionate to one another. These are all things that are very clearly taught in scripture.

Then when we think about different things that we find in our world, there's different choices that we can make that we need to make as Christians, what media am I going to choose to consume? What media am I going to choose to refrain from? What career path am I going to seek? What practices am I going to allow in my home? Things like yoga and meditation. And so we need to equip our kids to understand the difference between those two things. If somebody calls themself a Christian, but they're denying the deity of Christ, they're not a Christian because they are not following Christ, because the teachings of Christ are clearly outlined in scripture, and scripture is very clear that Jesus is God. So if somebody is denying the deity of Christ, they're not actually a Christian, where there might be someone who calls themself a Christian and who is involved in yoga five days of the week, where there might be somebody else who calls themself a Christian who thinks that yoga is harmful and that Christians shouldn't participate in it.

And both of those people, if they are followers of Christ, if they're affirming and believing the things that the Bible teaches, both of those people can be Christians. So we need to make sure that we are equipping our children to distinguish between the two because sometimes our temptation as adults is we just want our kids to believe the truth, which is a good thing, but our temptation is to want them to believe all of the peripheral and fringe things that we have personal convictions about, and we don't distinguish those peripheral personal conviction things from the essential Christian doctrines of the Christian faith. And so then the danger is when our kids grew up and realized, "oh my goodness, Christians have different beliefs about these things that my mom told me, that anybody who ever does yoga is following Hinduism and that it's evil. And then I see Christians that I know and love and respect doing yoga, so maybe was my mom wrong about the deity of Christ as well?"

We want to make sure that we're equipping our kids to understand the difference between these two things. And so how do we do this? Well, the first thing that I would recommend that we do is that we always anchor everything in God's word, that we're not anchoring it in ourselves because we are not the expert on these things, and we are not God that we're always anchoring everything in God's word. If we want to talk to our kids about the truth of the deity of Christ or about God's holiness or about how God calls us to use our sexuality, we want to anchor all of those things in God's word because God's word is our ultimate authority. And so once we've done that, we've shown them how do you actually figure out, "I've always taught you that Jesus is God. Where does this come from in scripture?"

And showing them throughout the whole of scripture, showing them in the beginning in John, "in the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God." He was with God in the beginning, very clearly stated in the beginning of John. And then throughout the gospels, Jesus is different claims as he says that when he's talking with the Pharisees and they're like, how...I forget the exact quote, but they're asking about question and he is like, they're like, you're not 40 years old and you've seen Moses, and he says before Moses or Abraham was sorry, it was Abraham. They were talking about, he goes, before Abraham was, he was making a very clear claim to actually be God who claimed I am that I am.

And then throughout the epistles it talks about worshiping Jesus. It talks about Jesus being the son of God. And so we want to show our kids, how do we actually go to scripture to look to figure out what are these essential Christian doctrines? We want to make sure we're always rooting it in scripture.

Then when we're talking with our children about our personal convictions, our personal convictions about things like yoga and meditation and other things like that, the first thing I would say is make sure you know what your convictions are and why you hold them. Are you going to allow yoga in your home? Are you going to encourage meditation? Why or why not? And we want to make sure that our convictions for these things are anchored in scripture. And I don't mean that we choose what we like. Maybe we've always been very flexible and we enjoy moving our body and we're like, I'm doing yoga no matter what. So let me find a few verses that talk about Christian freedom.

That's not what we want to do. We actually want to search the description and say, "hey, what does God have to say about this?" So we want to make sure that we know what our convictions are and why we hold them. Do we hold these convictions because we actually genuinely believe that this is a faithful interpretation of scripture? Or have we already predetermined that this is what we want to believe? And then we've gone and tried to find a few random verses that support this. And if it's the latter, we need to go back and we need to actually search out what does scripture say? How does it speak to this topic?

And once we know our convictions, what our convictions are and why biblically we believe that those things are true, then we need to present those convictions to our children. You know, you can present it, "you know what? Mom has decided that she's going to do yoga, and I think that yoga is okay. Yoga is very different than believing that Jesus is God. Believing Jesus is God is something that's clearly presented in the scriptures. Well, you know what? The scripture doesn't talk a lot about yoga, but it does talk about being good stewards of our bodies, about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit about using our bodies to glorify God. And these are the reasons why I think yoga might help me do that." And so for those of you who are freaking out, because I just said that we're going to talk a little bit more about that and that that's actually not my personal conviction, but I do believe that someone could be a Christian and could have that conviction, and we want to make sure that we're presenting this to our children in that way. "This is my conviction. It's different than a core doctrine of Christian faith or a very clear command into Christian faith. And this is why I hold this."

Then the next step would be to explain how other Christians believe differently, and then say, "you know what? I believe that this practice of yoga, either it is or it isn't okay. And there's other Christians that believe differently." You can even bring up different people in your life who that believe differently and say, "but you know what? There still are brothers and sisters, even though they believe differently because this isn't something about Jesus's deity or God's holiness or salvation through Jesus alone." If somebody doesn't believe that Jesus is God, if somebody doesn't believe that Jesus is the only way to God, that he's the only way for salvation, then that person isn't a Christian. That person is our friend who we're going to love them and help them see the truth, but they're not our brother and sister in Christ.

We're somebody who believes differently than we do about yoga, can still be our brother and sister in Christ. A great passage to go through with this is Romans 14. Now, Romans 14 is specifically talking about food offered to idols and what Christians should and should not do, but it goes through how Christians can have differing perspectives on that issue, and they can both still be believers, both still be followers of Jesus. But the main point in that passage is that we are to love one another. So if we're doing that, it's something that is causing our brother or sister to stumble, we're going to stop doing that, not because Jesus hasn't given us the freedom to do that, but because Jesus has called us to unity and unity and helping our brothers and sisters not stumble is more important than our freedom in Christ.

So we want to make sure that we walk our kids through this process so that they know the difference between essential Christian doctrines and very clear commands of Jesus and things that Christians disagree on because the Bible hasn't directly spoken to them, but Christians are just trying to figure out how do I take God's word and apply it in this specific situation?

Then explain what your convictions are, why those are your convictions, how different Christians could have different convictions and still be faithful followers of Jesus and taking our kids through Romans 14 and talking about, okay, different Christians are going to have different convictions about things that scripture might not be super clear on. The most important thing is that we are loving God through loving our brothers and sisters and that we're not doing something that's going to cause them to stumble. And you can talk about this if something like yoga, if you're okay with having that in your house, then you know that another family in your church isn't something you can talk to your kids about. When these friends come over our house, we're not going to be doing yoga, and we're not going to have our yoga mats out. It's not because we're trying to hide this from them, but it's something that they feel convicted is not from God, and we don't want to cause them to stumble because we love them, and our unity with them is more important than what we think is okay for our family in this situation.

So I'll just model for you, you know how I would do this, how I would model my own convictions if I were talking with a child? So with meditation first I would talk about, okay, when we're talking about meditation, what do we mean? There's different types of meditation. If we're talking about meditating in that we stop everything as a family and we're going to work on memorizing God's word and we are going to meditate on that word, and we're going to say God's word over and over and over and over again for the next five minutes so that we can memorize it and we're meditating on these truths. That's one type of meditation. Another type of meditation is eastern meditation where you're sitting cross-legged on the floor and you're doing deep breathing. And what you're trying to do is you're trying to empty your mind of everything so that you can be calm and you can be peaceful, and you can be united with different things in nature.

And now what I would say to kids in my care is, I would say, I don't believe that this is the type of meditation that God's word is talking about. Because every time in God's Word, it talks about meditating. It talks about meditating on God's word that we're supposed to fill our mind up with God's word. And so I don't think that when somebody is sitting down on the floor and just practicing deep breathing, that it's obeying God's command to meditate on his word. Now, I don't know when Christians go and do this, they might be listening to music that has God's word in it, or they might be reciting God's word in their mind as they're doing this deep breathing. And if they are, that's great. If they're not doing that, I don't think that that aligns with what the Bible has to say.

But you know what? If we know someone in our church who likes to go and meditate, you know what? They can still be a Christian. So I hope you saw with that. I'm just explaining why I believe that eastern meditation cannot align with the biblical Worldview, and that's why I don't practice that. And if I had children, that's why I would not allow them while they were in my house, to practice that type of meditation, because I do not believe it's biblical. But explaining to to our kids that others are going to have different convictions about that.

I would do the same thing with yoga. And I would explain to them like "yoga is moving our bodies in different positions. It's stretching. It can be really good physically for our health. But you know what? Where yoga came from, is yoga came from Hinduism, and the different positions in yoga were designed to actually connect people with different false gods with different idols. Now, some people just say, you know what? When I'm doing this yoga, I am not connecting myself with any false gods. I'm just doing stretching, and it's good for my body. And that might be what they're focusing on. The reason we're not going to do yoga in our house is because when the Israelites were going into the land of Canaan, God commanded them that they were supposed to be separate. They were supposed to be different. They weren't just supposed to adopt the different practices of their Canaanite neighbors. And I think that's very similar with us, that we live in this world, but we're not of this world. And so we're not going to adopt the practices of Hinduism or Buddhism or any other religion. We want to be completely separated from this."

"And then in the New Testament, God has commanded us as Christ Christians not to be conformed to the patterns of this world. And so I just think with yoga, there's too strong of a connection to Hinduism. I don't think that's what is best for our family. So in our family, we are going to stay away from yoga. Now, you know what? There's some people at our church who practice yoga. They have different convictions about that. And when you grow up and when you have your own house, you might have different convictions about that, and you can still be a Christian."

So that's what we want to model for our children, to make clear that when they're still in our household, they are going to follow our rules because that's the way God has designed things. But when they grow up, they're going to have their own household and they're going to need to make these kind of decisions on their own, and they can still be followers of Jesus while making different decisions about these things over which the Bible doesn't give us direct commands where we have to take our knowledge of the biblical narrative as a whole and then try to apply it to these different situations.

So that would be my recommendation to you. Just make sure that you're teaching your kids the difference between essential Christian doctrines and things that are clearly commanded, and then other things in our culture over which, over which Christians are trying to figure out, okay, how do I apply the biblical narrative to this topic? Just so your kids understand the clear difference between the two of them, make sure you understand your convictions. Make sure your convictions are deeply rooted within scripture. Explain those convictions to your kids. Explain why those are your convictions, why they're going to be what you're going to follow and they're going to follow when they're in your household, but also how different Christians can have different convictions about those things.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. As always, as we leave our time together, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time

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