As I mentioned in my first post, we’ve parented 5 kids so far…and counting. So we’re well aware of all the negative influences a child faces in today’s culture. There are temptations and hazards now most of us never dreamed of just 10 years ago. Considering all the technology available to them, the number of ways for kids to damage themselves spiritually is breathtaking.
When I look at my 9 month old foster child, I realize I have yet another chance to “get it right” as a Christian parent. Can I avoid some of the mistakes I made with my other kids this time? My instinct as a parent is to try and keep her from every negative situation, every pain, every disappointment.
But that instinct is dead wrong.
We’ve tried most every option of schooling – home-school, private Christian school, and public school. All of them have their plusses and minuses. But one thing scares me about a lot of my Christian friends. Some seem to think the cure-all for their kids is to cloister them away, sheltering them from all non-Christian influences.
So they police everything in their kids’ lives, plugging up every crack through which the world might contaminate them. They put them in a Christian school or homeschool, hoping they’ll never learn about the evils in the real world. They carefully screen all movies and TV shows, only allowing the most innocuous entertainment.
To coin a phrase, they impose a “Christian quarantine” on their children. And quite often, this quarantine actually leads to catastrophe.
One guaranteed step toward raising an “accidental atheist”: Quarantine your kids from all evil, but keep them ignorant of how to fight it.
Don’t misunderstand – it is very important to educate your children well and make informed decisions about what media to allow. Also, Christian schools and homeschooling are often wonderfully effective in training children in Biblical truths. I am very thankful for the years my children spent learning in these Godly environments.
HOWEVER, too many parents think it’s enough to simply cocoon their kids from evil in a tidy Christian cultural bubble. They lock their kids inside for homeschooling and monitor all media, and proclaim “Mission Accomplished”. But they miss the fact that, no matter how much you insulate them, evil will indeed get in! In fact, it came in with your kids.
You can’t quarantine kids from evil because the Bible says they’re already “carriers” for the disease! The virus of sin is already working inside of children. If you don’t believe it, just tell your toddler “No” and watch the carnage that ensues.
One Biblical example that comes across like a spiritual “Addams Family” was led by a man named Eli. 1 Samuel 2:12 tells us Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were wicked and “did not know the Lord”. In fact, God punished their disobedience by letting the Philistines defeat Israel, capturing the Ark of the Covenant where the presence of God dwelt. This meant God’s power and presence no longer resided with the children of Israel – what a catastrophe, for not only that family but also the entire nation!
But the spiritual environment for Eli’s sons seemed ideal. Their father was in fact the High Priest of Israel, a man of great spiritual knowledge and influence. Both boys were raised to be priests themselves, serving under their father’s instruction. I mean… for heaven sake, THEY WERE LITERALLY “RAISED IN CHURCH”! Yet the Bible tells us they were completely corrupt, and even made it a practice to have sex with women coming to there to worship. Can you imagine what would happen if that pastor sons at your church were caught doing that?
So positive spiritual environment is not enough. Children must be taught about evil – how it works and how it destroys. Keeping them ignorant leaves them defenseless when evil tempts them. In fact, our refusal to discuss the hard, grimy truth about evil with our kids makes it appear more exotic and alluring to them. Our desperate attempts to avoid that conversation make evil all the more fascinating to them!
For instance, have you ever seen a news photo of women arrested for prostitution who looked even remotely like Julia Roberts? What the movie PRETTY WOMAN portrayed as prostitution and the sick realities of the sex trade are two completely different things. But when we only shield our kids without exposing evil, we present it as a tempting taboo, much like the “Turkish Delight” of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. They’re immediately attracted to the shiny newness of an evil never seen before, like a fish falling for the shiny lure.
One thing my wife and I have always done with our kids is talk bluntly and openly about evil influences. When our kids asked what a “dirty word” meant, we often sad down and explained it in blunt, unvarnished, but age-appropriate terms. This stripped the evil of its allure and attraction, leaving only the dingy reality of ugly sin on their impressionable minds.
Remember – a sure way to guarantee you’re raising an accidental atheist is to believe that ignorance of evil will keep evil away. But darkness is only destroyed when exposed in the light.
As Christian parents, be sure and turn on the lights tonight for your kids about evil. Good parents wouldn’t leave them in the dark.