Hopelessness, Depression, Violence, Murder, Suicide, Lost: Consider the Children
So let us consider the Good News and the children, for the Lord said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14 There are consequences for hindering them.
Why Is Everybody Surprised by Columbine High School?
By Rev. Lloyd E. Gross
WHY IS EVERYBODY so surprised at adolescent violence? Perhaps some of it is more extreme than in the recent past, but that is only a matter of degree, not of kind.
How can you expect orderly behavior from people who have never been properly disciplined?
How can you expect orderly thoughts from people whose music is close to chaos?
If you refuse to impose values, why are you surprised when they act as if they had none?
Our society does not know how to think about children, because it has been bombarded from many directions with the doctrines of the "Cult of the Child."
This confusion comes from many different sources. We may talk about the media, it does have its voice in all this, but we must not forget that more people are influenced by the publishing industry, by the "counseling professions," by public education, and above all, by the entertainment industry. These all have a certain orthodoxy about the Child which has an absolute monopoly on all public discussion. More realistic, contrary views are never allowed, in fact, mentioning that they exist is usually cause for loss of a voice. The entertainment industry is absolutely intolerant of the truth concerning children. Anyone who dares to speak it gets canceled, quickly.
Instead, we are subjected to propaganda about the "innocent child." In the late 18th century there were some shallow philosophers, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who taught that children came into the world pure and uncorrupted, and that society then made them evil. Romantic poets advanced this view, which agreed with sentiment and popular wishful thinking to produce a romanticized picture of childhood.
In the Middle Ages youths of 13-16 years were ready to start a family, enter a university, turn to a church vocation, take a share in the family farm, be apprenticed to an artisan, or train for armed service. They may not have had the apparent "choices" that our own youth seem to have, but they were generally eager to grow up. But since the romantic view of the Child, adults have tended to repress youth, to keep them children much longer, indeed, to treat them as children all through the teen years that might otherwise be so productive. They tend to protect them from everything.
Most recently, our society has even tried to protect all children from Christian witnessing, and from the truth about human origins. There are many who would interfere with parental discipline, some in the name of "the rights of the Child," a totally hedonistic set of cultural licenses now officially advocated by the United Nations. The same set of "rights" claims to "protect" the Child from having values imposed on him by those who love him enough to teach him right from wrong.
What does the Bible teach about the child (we definitely want the lower case c)? It teaches that every child except One came into this world with sin as standard equipment. That every child is therefore an evil creature, not because God designed him evil, but because Adam fell. This is a consequence of that fall. Parents and others can suppress the evil, try to find channels for it that will be less destructive, and perhaps even change some of it to genuine benefit. Children do not learn violence from adults. They are born violent. God knows this. That is why He has in His Word clear directions for us about violence, which include His rules for the salutary use of violence.
If no adults suppressed and regulated the evil that is innate in every child, that child would grow up to be a horror in every way, not only with violence, but with deceit, overindulgence of appetites, utter self-centeredness, and the abuse of all that is good. Those who learn wisdom would be much worse, because they would be more effective than others in gaining their evil ends. For example, those who learn to defer gratification can abuse on a far larger scale than those who are slaves to their appetites.
The Christian view of the child is far more realistic than the cult of the Child. We believe that children have value as persons. Because they can absorb so much of what they experience, because they can assimilate so much, including the marvelous, the anachronistic, the truly new, things against which adults are guarded by prejudice, Christians believe they can learn divine things better by being like children in this way. But not in every way. Children are undeveloped, imperfect, superficial, and mentally near-sighted. Jesus did not mean for His disciples to be those things.
Childhood is the right age for memory work. About the age of eight years, what some educational psychologists call the "middle childhood years," or roughly the elementary school stage, children are ready to memorize all that they need to memorize for the rest of their lives. Proverbs, Catechism, the multiplication tables, dates, rules of grammar, and the facts of every discipline will never be more easily memorized than at this age. Daily repetition is the best method of memorization. It doesn't matter whether children of this age can understand what they are memorizing. This is not the age for understanding But once the age for understanding comes, it will be too late to put any new memory in there. If that was not done at the right time, you have nothing for the youth to understand. At least you would if nature permitted a vacuum. It doesn't. If you don't fill the head with the right memory work in the middle childhood years, the world will fill it with garbage, and garbage is what the youth will understand and eventually express. One form that that garbage takes is violence. Q.E.D.
There is nothing sacred about the Child. Children are a gift from God, a gift which requires diligent care. The worst abuse you can place on a child is to neglect indoctrination in the right values. Example is important, discipline is important, church attendance is important, but without purposefully teaching the Christian value system, with creation, redemption, and sanctification as its three foci, you cannot "train up a child in the way he shall go." The name of Jesus is better not learned unless the painful reality of the cross is joined to it. Right and wrong are better left undescribed unless accountability and judgment attend them. Churches were better standing empty if people came there for any other reason than to interact with God.