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  • Matthew 10:16-23

There's not enough talk about violence today.

There’s something that I have to get off of my chest. The weight of it has been too heavy for me recently.

We don’t teach our children enough about violence.

Let me explain.

One Sunday not too long ago, I got a text during the church service. Kayla really needs her mommy. I shot my husband a concerned look. “I’ll be right back,” I whispered. It was her first time in children’s church, so the text from the children’s care volunteers was somewhat expected. Her eyes that had been flooded with tears filled relief when she saw me.

“Hold baby?” as she flung her arms up toward me.

Of course my love.

I decided to linger a while with Kayla in the baby’s room to set her at ease. She curled up contentedly in my lap and started sucking her fingers. One of Kayla’s favorite things to do is to read books. The husband and wife who were working the room had books filled with Bible stories scattered everywhere so the children could pick them up easily.

“Come here, buddy!” said the husband to a passing toddler who was on the verge of throwing a tantrum. “Let’s read a book. Ooooh Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Let’s read. ‘The king of Babylon was very unhappy with Daniel’s friends. All of the king’s advisors told him that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were praying only to God, and not to the king. Daniel’s friends must be killed for disobeying the law said the king’s advisors.’ Wow, this story is pretty harsh. ‘The king’s guards prepared the furnace -’ Haha that’s a nice term to try and explain to a child.” He shot his wife and I a skeptical look. “‘But the fire was so hot that it burned up the guards who were building the fire, even before Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown in.’ Okaaaay, I think that’s enough of that story. That’s a bit too much.”

I smiled at the worker as the previously occupied toddler ran off and started to wail. But I felt… disappointed. I understood where his heart was. One of my most vivid memories from the early postpartum days after Kayla’s birth was gazing at her during a long night and sobbing. She was perfect. And innocent. And someday I would have to explain to her what murder is. What rape is. Why hate grows in people’s hearts. And I wept. I wept that she would have to know the evil things of the world, and moreover, that my husband and I would be the ones to have to explain them to her.

As parents, we carry the innate desire to procure a magic shield that will deflect anything harmful from our children. We don’t want them to hurt. We don’t want them to know the possibility of hurt. Although we know it’s impossible, we try our best to skirt our way around subjects we feel they aren’t ready for. We don’t want them to know about death or pain. We murmur the lie, this won’t hurt before they get a shot.

We as a culture are missing something huge, though. On a large scale, Christianity today has accepted the lie that religion needs to be soft and toothless, and while Jesus commanded his disciples to be as gentle as doves he also instructed them to be as wise as serpents. He certainly didn’t sugar coat his words and avoid issues of violence; in fact he promised persecution for those who chose to follow him. As parents, we need to be mindful that we are raising a generation of children who will grow up believing that they will never have to face violence or spiritual warfare. And that’s dangerous.

We’re missing an opportunity to teach our children about violence preemptively, instead of waiting until a time arises where it’s unavoidable and necessary. Our culture celebrates an inoffensive god who wants nothing more than our happiness and comfort at the expense of his glory. We’re passively letting our children see us watch Game of Thrones - and enjoy it. We’re letting them see us consume novels about sadomasochism in one sitting. And somehow that’s acceptable. The violence in these things isn’t real. It’s a story. Our children would never have to face that. But oh, friend, the images in the minds of our children are very real. Our battle is not against flesh, but in the spiritual realms. (Ephesians 6:12). And it is a battle of life or death.

One of the biggest criticisms I hear about the Bible from my non-Christian friends is that it’s so violent. That old testament stuff is barbaric they say. And it’s true. It is. Murder. Deceit. Incest. Rape. Sodomy. Genocide. Infanticide. Blight. And that only covers the first two books of the Bible. You know what? You can flip on the TV tonight and see the same things being covered on the evening news. Murder. Deceit. Incest. Rape. Sodomy. Genocide. Infanticide. Blight. There is nothing new under the sun.

So I pose to you this question and a challenge: Since, as Christians, we are called to stand in the truth of God’s word, why are we glossing over the same evil found in the Bible and the world to those who are most susceptible to it - our children? The Bible presents violence and evil as imminently real and present and unrelentingly raw.

I challenge you, friends. When our children are old enough to understand, let the training ground and first exposure to violence that they have be from the words that are found in the Bible. Let the realization of violence be overshadowed and overcome by the hope and faithfulness and redemption that God shows his people. Don’t skim over the parts of the Bible that are violent. Don’t miss the opportunity to show your children that God brings goodness and life out of the darkest situations that mankind is capable of creating. Don’t not tell your children about Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the fiery furnace. Don’t not tell your children about the brutality and suffering that Jesus went through on the cross because friends, the last words in both of those stories are of victory and salvation.

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