(If you have ever thought about skipping over passages in Scripture that deal with murder to protect your kids or you have boys that like to re-enact battle scenes, you should definitely check out today's post! My dear friend, Jessalyn, from Desiring Virtue is sharing some awesome insight into the word "kill" and how we as Christian parents should deal with it in relation to our young kids. Thanks, Jessalyn!!!)
"I'm going to kill you!"
These are not words that a mother likes to hear coming out of her four year old's mouth, even if he is acting out a battle scene between two action figures. Once again I have the opportunity to reiterate the severity of the word "kill" and to explain the horrendous nature of death.
Murder and evil are results of the sin that entered our world when Adam and Eve chose to rebel against their Maker. The action of killing another human being is especially heinous to God because humans are created in his image and very precious to him. Words like "kill" are not words we should throw around lightly.
We have had many of these "opportunities" lately as our oldest boys (ages 4 and 2 1/2) have become somewhat obsessed with their superhero action figures. It might surprise you, however, to learn that the first time my oldest heard the word "kill" was not by watching TV or by playing a gory video game.
Actually, the first time my son uttered the word "kill" was after we began reading his children's Bible to him. It didn't take long before we came to the terrible story of Cain and Abel and the meaning of such a word had to be explained. As we went about this task, I wondered if it would be better to leave out these stories of murder and sin from his biblical framework for a while. After all, he was so "innocent" what good could it do to teach him such horrific accounts?
Have you ever thought about how much death is recorded in the Word of God? Soon after Cain's sin comes the account of the flood where God wipes out the entire earth (killing everything except what was contained in one boat) because the people were so violent and evil. Next we have the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to explain to our little ones--entire cities full of people who are destroyed because of their wickedness. Moving on, we learn that God asks his servant Abraham to sacrifice (kill) his son Isaac, only to have a ram be supplied in the last moments to be killed in Isaac's place. Not too much longer and we are taken to Egypt where the Pharaoh gets it into his head to kill all the baby boys in Israel! What terrible, awful things to have to describe and explain to such a young "innocent" child.
And yet, none of our children are truly innocent. We all carry in us the propensity to sin. We all--from conception--are a part of Adam's family. Each of us are effected by the sickness Cain inherited from his father called sin--that sickness that demands the need for salvation. We are all a part of this grand narrative which reveals the severity of our need for a savior.
This, of course, is why it is important--imperative even--to not skip over the dark parts of the Bible with our children. Without the knowledge of sin and evil and the reality of death, what need will our children have for a Savior? Why did Jesus come? Was he just a nice guy who wore flowing white robes and did miracles or did he come on a mission? Did he come to save us and if so, from what? Why, of all things, did he have to die on a cross?
When my boys are playing with their superheroes the storyline usually goes something like this: One action figure is designated as the bad guy and utters an odious threat like the one above which then gives Superman or Spiderman the opportunity to swoop in and save the day. In these small exchanges a deep truth is being conveyed--a hero is only necessary if someone needs help.
The pages of human history testify again and again to the fact that our race is in desperate need of help.
Our children need to know that we, as sons of Adam, have a gigantic problem. Sin and its consequences are not truths we can afford to teach our children about later, but rather must be explained as early as possible. Though we may use discernment in how we explain such truths and to what extent we explain them, one thing is certain-they must be explained. Otherwise we run the risk of raising children with no need of a Savior.
As I explain to my children how horrific the idea of killing another person is--how terrible death is--I have the marvelous opportunity to teach them about the life found in Christ! Jesus came into this world to conquer death and give us eternal life! One day he will come back to punish those who do evil things like murder and their will never be any pain or suffering ever again! Isn't our Savior wonderful? Isn't our God a good God?
Our Bibles may be full of stories of death, but only for the purpose of revealing the Source of life and salvation. Before we placed our trust in Jesus Christ, each of us was in danger of perishing under the slavery of sin, each of us was facing eternal death and damnation and yet, God the Father sent his Son to rescue his creation. He loved us so much that he gave his only Son so that we could have eternal life and no longer be haunted by the fear of death. All of Scripture points to this great Hero who has come to save us and who will one day put an end to all evil and all wickedness.
For these reasons we do not skip over the dark parts of Scripture with our children, without the knowledge of darkness, they could never understand the value of the Light.
I want my children to know about sin because I want them to know about the Savior.
"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men."
(Romans 5:18 ESV)
(Romans 5:18 ESV)
Jessalyn is the author and editor of DesiringVirtue, a Christ-centered, doctrinally rich resource for Christian women who desire to bring honor to the Lord through their lives. She is the wife of a Christ-exalting man and the mother of three precious little boys.