“But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”Luke 18:16, ESV
One common theme growing up was the importance of protecting our children. Particularly the innocence of a child. Things like racism, sexuality, fear of that which is different, and hate are not natural in children. It is true that sin is present in children, but that tends to present itself in the self-centered nature that is born in us. All babies cry to communicate – hunger, discomfort, pain, tired, or just to get attention. It is the nature of who we are and as we grow we learn more positive ways to communicate, hopefully. As parents, we are given the great gift and responsibility to raise our children to do and act differently than our nature would dictate. We are to raise our children first and foremost to fear, love, and trust in God above all else. From there we can teach them manners, self-care, and the life skills necessary for survival all the while we are to ensure that they have some level of academic understanding helping to feed them what they will need to be successful in the careers that our Lord has prepared for them. The Lord blessed us with teachers and institutions that, at one time, were meant to assist us in this process. Unfortunately, as great shifts have occurred in the culture of our world we, as parents, need to be more cautious.
As a child, one of the greatest things that I enjoyed were cartoons. Some of them had positive messaging, but, for the most part, they were just for enjoyment. Many of them had slapstick humor and actions that every child should have been taught that it was not real and should not be mimicked. If a child was not taught this at home they would quickly learn this lesson when interacting with others. At one time, expectations and standards were set within communities and, in the positive sense, they helped to develop a secure environment for the raising of families. There were things appropriate for children and everyone was clearly aware of those things deemed inappropriate. If anyone was caught exposing a child to something inappropriate there would be consequences.
Childhood was meant to be safe and fun. Tragically, we know that children were exposed to things they should not have been, but his was not the norm. Of course, nothing was perfect and life was not always fun and games. We do have our periods of history where children were treated as chattel and made to work hard labor without what we would deem a childhood. The past also forced children to help with doing things to help the family. Chores were common and still are not a bad thing in helping the development. We also no from artifacts and history that children still had their childhood games. Children are children. Thankfully, at the turn of the twentieth century moves were made to help protect children from childhood labor and other abuses. Moves were made to preserve childhood and to help protect the innocence of children.
Unfortunately, we see things changing in our world. It has been, historically, repulsive to see children as sexual beings. Pedophilia and the like has been seen as a stain in society and, as a whole thankfully, it still is. When Jon Benet-Ramsey was found murdered in the 90s and at 6 had been molested was sickening news. The oversexualization of this young girl put a negative light on her parents and the child pageant industry. One could hope that it would have had long-lasting changes, but we are quick to forget after the next major headline hits the news cycle. Now we have to worry about our children being exposed to a striptease routine done by a grown male in a dress at the local libraries, Drag Queen Story Hour. We turn on the Disney network and turn on the Muppet Babies cartoon and find they are introduced to Gonzorella as Gonzo desires to be accepted wearing a dress (note the show is Muppet Babies) in an effort to show acceptance and tolerance or we let our children watch an episode of Blues Clues and they watch an episode featuring a Drag Queen in a Pride Parade. Unfortunately, this is a trend that continues to grow. One may argue that there should be no issue with any of this because it is only teaching tolerance. These are not normal things that a child needs to be exposed to early in their development.
As a father of six, this is all too real and is very concerning. A child is not and never should be viewed as a sexual being and they need not be exposed to sexual issues at a young age. We needn’t even teach our children that there are “girls toys” and “boys toys.” A toy is a toy and if a girl plays in the dirt with trucks and a boy plays with dolls and dresses need not be an indicator of sexual identity. Let children be children and allow them to live in the innocence of the age without concerns about them having to check off certain boxes. Intolerance and Racism are learned behaviors that are often imposed by those trying to combat it. Critical Race Theory and those pushing “ToLeRanCe” often are missing the reality that they are teaching racism and intolerance. Hate is taught and an overreaction is the flip side of the same coin. As a follower of Christ, the goal that I believe all parents should have in raising their children is to raise them with respect for others and to maintain that even when confronted by people with whom they disagree. With this mentality it is important to teach that we also must stand against the abuse of another and believe that all people should be treated with dignity. We should never celebrate or tolerate the abuse of anyone, including those with whom we disagree. To hear others views also does not mean agreement with those views. This is the greatest half-truth that we hear in our world and the argument is made that one must “silence” those that are spewing “hate.” The greatest way to silence hate is to let it be heard and reveal itself as such. This is not being silent, but letting it be heard and responding to what is said in a rational way. Hate is not rational and never will be. Hate thrives on vitriol and enthusiasm. Hate grows in a vacuum that is created when open and honest discourse is disallowed. Children will accept other children that are different from them unless they are told that they should not like certain people. A child will also reject behavior that they see as being against their worldview. If we raise our children in a worldview that sees that others should be treated with dignity and respect, they will treat others with dignity and respect. Let us stop the sexualization of our children and protect them from the teaching that there are those that are less than them or greater than them and point them to the one true Savior, Jesus Christ.