By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Q. I am the mother of 2 young children and I find that everywhere I turn, they are being inundated with magic, witches, fairies, etc., even in otherwise innocent children’s stories. I know the Bible is very clear that we should have nothing to do with these things, as far as participating in them, but what about all the children’s books, movies, etc that contain these things? It seems almost unavoidable, even Christian writers such as CS Lewis write about such things. Should they be avoided or is there a less “legalistic” stance on allowing my children exposure to these things? Can it be used as a teaching opportunity? I hope my questions makes some sense.
Magic, witches and fairies, oh my!
I love the concern of this mother and the fact that she doesn’t want to completely shelter her children from the world around them. It’s important that children experience the world while still under the authority, instruction and guidance of their parents. This mother takes very seriously her role in training her children in the ways of the Lord. Her expressed concern about protecting them from the dangerous messages of the world is of utmost importance, and yet she also realizes that they need to learn about the world in which they live and enjoy some of the fun and fantasy of being a child. It must be a balancing act and it must be appropriately “tailored” to each individual child.
I believe there are many secular books, TV shows, movies, and other media that children can enjoy and from which they can learn valuable lessons. In fact, that was the point of Kirk Cameron’s movie, Saving Christmas. We should be able to participate in the celebration of Christmas and enjoy the festivities even though society has tried to change it into a secular holiday. Eliminating Christmas celebrations, because the holiday and its festivities were not celebrated by the early church, can be detrimental for children. We live in a world, in which most people celebrates Christmas (the true meaning or the secular holiday). To ban children from participating in some of the secular celebrations can alienate children from their peers and create a misconception about the Christian faith. Please don’t hear me wrong. I do think that there are some Christmas holiday activities that parents should not allow (and some in which adult Christians should not participate). It’s important that parents discern if an activity in any way dishonors God or the true meaning of Christmas. If not, holiday activities that celebrate the joy and love of family and friends, and involve no sinful activities, should be appropriate and can even be beneficial. To criticize such celebrations can appear to non-believers that we are condemning them and might even cause them to think we consider ourselves better than them. That will be detrimental to our testimony and to their understanding and hearing about the true meaning of Christmas.
The mother who raised this question expresses a legitimate concern about the content and quality of a lot of media that is created for children. There is no doubt that some media is produced with the primary goal of marketing and sales, rather than the goal of educating, inspiring and maturing children. Some media will teach children the exact opposite of what God says in His Word and is there for dangerous for nurturing children in their faith.
There is no simple answer to this mother’s question. In the times in which, parents must make every effort to review and evaluate all messages their children hear and see. That creates a great time burden on parents. However, when it comes to media, we can be thankful that there are many reputable, reliable resources to help ease that burden. Focus on the Family is a great resource for reviews of all types of media using a Christian, Bible-based perspective. Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 and since that time has proven to be trustworthy and Bible-based in what their reviews and teachings. However, even with their time-proven faithful record, they are human and can err so always test what you find against what Scripture says. The Bible is the final authority in all things.
Remember that the Bible does speak against magic, sorcery and related things and sternly warns about engaging in such things (Exodus 7:11, 8:7, Leviticus 19:31, Isaiah 57:3-4, Jeremiah 27:9, Malachi 3:5, Acts 8:9, et.al.). Parents must be discerning about everything their children see and read, but the extreme caution of banning children from all secular media can be dangerous too. It can isolates them from their peers. Children seek to relate to their friends (to “fit-in”) and they need to be guided in how to do so. Banning all secular media will not prepare them to enter the world. They will be confronted with non-biblical messages and it might be best to allow them to see some while a parent is able to explain and teach the dangers and lies of such a message. Banning secular media that contains fantasy can also rob children of one of the pleasures of being a child. Children should be allowed to be children. Children delight in mystery and fantasy. It is the duty of parents to protect and guide their inquisitive and imaginative minds and decide what is age appropriate and beneficial for their learning—and most importantly what will promote Christ-focused, Christ-honoring, Holy Spirit-guided living.
There are no easy answers to this question, because all media varies greatly. Parents, take the time to review the material to which you expose your children. Endeavor also, to the best of your ability, to review material to which they are exposed to outside your home. Your best defense against the lies the world teaches is prayer. Pray that God will open your eyes and your understanding and give you the right words to teach your children about both the ways of the Lord and the dangers of the world. Pray that God will protect your children from the lies of the world and that He will open their ears to hear His truth and soften their hearts to receive His love and guidance.
Paul spoke of the maturation process that is supposed to occur:
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
The world is doing its best to make children grow up too fast. Parents must be determined and diligent in helping children learn and mature in age appropriate and biblical ways. Remember, if we don’t teach children God’s truth, the world will teach them lies.
The world is also advancing another grave danger by promoting child-like behavior in young adults. Remember, Paul said, “when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Becoming an adult is chronologically defined, but the emotional definition is becoming very blurred. Many young adults think and act in ways well below their chronological age. They don’t appear to want to “put away childish things.” There seems to be a “Toys-R-Us” mentality (Remember the advertising jingle, “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys-R-Us kid…”) Sadly this is happening with some young adults.
Parents, do your best now to lay the groundwork for your children to grow and mature into adulthood as God-loving, God-fearing, God-honoring Christians. Pray always, remembering that God loves your child. Trust completely that God will work in them according to His purpose and plan. And…enjoy your time with them. They grow up so fast and are gone so quickly. As Dr. Seuss so wisely said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
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