What Really Hurts Children

What is the real danger to children? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about the hysteria that comes whenever any new piece of technology comes out. It’s always argued that this will lead to the children being corrupted. The reality comes and goes and there’s no major change. Most of us look at what happened with comic books in the past as silly today. Odds are years from now today’s fear will seem silly.

But yet, no one can deny that children are being hurt. Yes. We do have problems with children committing violence and we do have problems with sexual promiscuity in children. Children often do drugs and children struggle with suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide.

It’s really easy to blame this on the surrounding culture. It’s comic books! It’s TV! It’s movies! It’s music! It’s smartphones! It’s video games! It’s the internet! I am not denying that some of these can play a part, but there is something far more influential that comes beforehand that if this gets wrong, the others are far more likely to be hazardous to children. If this gets right, they are far less likely to be hazardous.

What children most need right is a stable family.

By this also, I mean that children living with a mother and a father both, and preferably their own biological parents. I realize that sometimes this can’t happen. I have a wonderful friend who’s a widower raising children on her own which is wonderful. A cause like being widowed suddenly due to a tragedy often cannot be helped.

Technically on my end, my sister is my step-sister as we have the same mother, but my mother left an abusive marriage and remarried my father and I come from that one, but my Dad has never treated my sister like any less of his own flesh and blood. I never got preferential treatment growing up that way. You could ask my sister and she would say the same thing.

Today, divorce is often prevalent because if the parents aren’t happy, well surely the children aren’t. Often, with a bad divorce, it doesn’t change the happiness of the children. Sometimes what they want most is their parents to work matters out and it can set the path for them to do the same.

If anyone thinks that’s what happened on my end, no. You can ask most anyone and I fought tooth and nail for my marriage and this was even when wise people told me I should seek divorce. I always said no. If it ended, it would be on her end, but I also told her when she was telling me she was going to divorce that I didn’t want her to do that, but if she sent me papers I would sign them. I wasn’t going to hold her hostage or anything.

Children can wrestle with abandonment over divorce and issues of trust. One reason I am sure of this personally besides my own reading on the topic is I am 42 and divorced and I still wrestle with this as a result of my divorce. It’s far harder when you’re a child who doesn’t have a fully developed cognitive faculty to know how to handle this or a whole worldview behind it. I remember the story of a man in his senior years who at the age of five had his Dad kill himself and he still wondered why his Dad didn’t want him.

Don’t think that just having the right parents is all that matters either. No. Invest in your children. If your children are engaging in media you think is harmful, talk to them about it. Find out why they like it. What are they really gaining out of it?

Don’t think also that if you’re in ministry, you can bypass this. You can’t. Some people can be so committed to ministry that they fail to be committed to their own families. I hate saying it, but Billy Graham was even like this. There’s an account of how he left his wife behind sick once because he had to preach somewhere. If children think your ministry matters more to you than they do, they are more prone to resent your ministry and the God that ministry is about.

Children need to be invested in. We can often think that if we take them to church every Sunday, which we should, then we’re okay, but it needs to be more. Christianity needs to be lived in the home. It needs to be shown. Christians need to do actions that will speak love to their children.

If this is actively going on, you have far less to be concerned about with the media around them. I have been in the world of video games since I was in kindergarten, and yet I have never had a violent streak or anything like that. I was a virgin until I married and will be one, God willing, until I marry again. I never use profanity and I have never had a drug problem. I have struggled with anxiety and depression, but overall, my upbringing has been very helpful for me.

Also, if you are someone alone raising a child, get them involved with someone who can be a role model of their own sex. If you are a man raising daughters, find a woman who is a role model for them and vice-versa for a woman raising sons. Let them know how they are to be.

Your children are yours and they are to be a great investment. You will be the greatest influence on their life. Use it well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Avoiding Hysteria Over Children

What is really putting our children in danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was doing through Alexander Kriss’s book, he referred to another book I am going through now called Grand Theft Childhood and the authors are arguing, and I agree, that there is no link between violent video games and violence. I finished a chapter yesterday taking a look through history. There is a trend and the first three people mentioned are people cited in the book, but the rest are not.

First, there was the introduction of books like dime novels and others and of course, this led to a fear over some of the material therein. Anthony Comstock was the main one behind this fear and Comstock laws are named for him. After all, look at the sex and violence. Something odd about this was the Horatio Alger books were written to teach better morals, despite Alger being a Unitarian minister who sexually abused boys. At the end of the day, Comstock insisted that this would lead to rampant poor behavior among the young.

Then it came time for the film industry and even silent films and Henry James Foreman was the main voice here. He wrote Our Movie Made Children which had the exact same fear. Children would see movies about gangsters and people like this and then go out and do what they saw.

After this came comic books and once again, here was someone raising the alarm. This time, it was Fredric Wethram with his book Seduction of the Innocent. (I am planning on getting any book by these people for further research purposes.) Comic books were seen as what would lead to degeneracy and figures like Batman and Robin were obviously in a homosexual relationship. One wonders what Wethram would think about comics today. (And interestingly, apparently, when comics try to make an established superhero gay, it doesn’t sell well at all. The first issue could do well, but no one follows the story as it goes on to other issues.)

A few years later, you had Dungeons and Dragons and The Devil’s Web from Pat Pulling who saw herself as an expert on the occult after the tragic suicide of her son. Fortunately, there was someone like Michael Stackpole who wrote The Pulling Report, which you can read here. Again, the danger is always towards the children.

Then you have writers like Phil Phillips come later who wrote Turmoil in the Toy Box and Saturday Morning Mind Control. You have writers like Phil Arms, who I have reviewed, and you have so much fear and obsession over the Harry Potter books. No matter what, when something new comes out, it’s dangerous and will destroy our children. Not a shock that gaming also has had several people do the same for it.

And then years later people look back and think, “Well, that was awfully silly”, and in reality, we are doing more a disservice to our children. Treat something as forbidden fruit and they are more prone to want to explore it and eventually, they will. They will either do it secretly in the house of their parents or they will do it on their own when they get out.

In all of this, what is missing? Are we spending time teaching a biblical worldview such that if our children encounter anything that is harmful to them, they will know to avoid it? No. Are we teaching them about a biblical view of sexuality so they can resist temptation? No. Are we teaching them about war and peace and when it is proper to use violence and when it isn’t? No.

We are living in reaction mode. This can’t be done constantly. What needs to be done first is to teach our children how to think and fend for themselves such that when new situations arise, they will know what to do. If we think that a book or a game or a movie or a TV show can destroy the faith of our children, instead of going after that thing, maybe we should be looking at building up the children instead.

This is not to say that everything in the media is well and good. I have no problem with parents evaluating what comes into their house and what their children are watching and doing and playing. I have a problem with them listening to alarmist works only and not studying themselves.

We also miss out the bigger problems. There can be contributing factors, but really the reason people sin, including you and I, is ultimately that we want to. Think of the old joke about saying “Lead me not into temptation. I’ll find it myself.” That is how we are often. We don’t need anything to influence us that way.

And speaking of gaming, if this were the case, we would expect matters to be a whole lot worse today than ever. In my Greek class this morning, my professor said he’s played video games all his life and really likes the ones about killing the enemy, but getting into a fight is repugnant to him. I prefer RPGs and I do believe in self-defense strongly, but I am definitely not a violent person. For people who do this kind of violence, usually they have issues long before they ever play a game, and many mass shooters never did games anyway.

Hysteria also leaves us looking ridiculous to the world and them less likely to hear us. It also increases our gullibility factor, much the same way as every end of the world scenario that pops up where this time, the rapture is definitely going to take place. Our focus is to be on Jesus and His message and not just reacting to what the world does. We are to be proactive instead.

No doubt, sometime in the near future, there will be another hysteria going around. I recommend you don’t get into it. Just teach your children well. Share your opinion, but listen to others around you who are Christians who disagree and find out why. Hysteria though is just living in fear, something we are to avoid.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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