I am the father of four children ages 6 to 12. Children are an immense blessing from God (Psalm 127:3-5) and a sincere privilege to disciple (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). However, parenting my children is also a weighty responsibility, especially in light of the milieu of today’s culture. The past two months of news have led me to anger, grief, fright, and intense prayer, all at once. Here’s just a snapshot of what has confronted all of us recently:
- Abortion and Infanticide. In January, New York passed the Reproductive Health Act, allowing abortion up to birth, with standing ovation and thunderous applause and the One World Trade Center lit in pink. On the heel of this came Virginia’s House Bill 2491 that would have permitted third-trimester abortions. The abomination of abortion and infanticide continue to roll off the tongue easier and easier in society. We continue to sacrifice our children to our modern day Molech.
- Child Sexual Abuse. This week, the Houston Chronicle released a three-part series highlighting sexual abuse within churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, where children were among those abused. This sin of sexual abuse has been demonstrated in other religious denominations and secular organizations over the past few years as well. Beyond our home, the church should be the safest environment for our children, surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. However, this is not always so. The statistics of child sexual abuse are sobering—1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.
- Child Pornography. Every week throughout the U.S., the news reports of individuals—teachers, coaches, ministry leaders, church members—arrested for viewing and possessing child pornography. In one study, 78 percent of images and videos assessed depicted children under 12 years old, and 63 percent were children under 8 years old. Child pornography is a form of sex exploitation that naturally leads to pedophilia and sexual abuse.
- Child Sex Trafficking. The border wall debate and Super Bowl LIII have reminded us of the ever-present specter of human sex trafficking, where up to 50 percent of the 40 million victims trafficked globally are children. Children are viewed as a commodity rather than as made in the image of the Creator. Roughly 50 children per day in the U.S. are reported to be taken. I imagine the unreported number is much higher. It’s real; it happens. My wife personally spoiled the attempted abduction of one of our children.
- Domestic Violence. We are surrounded by broken families, and children are exposed to or are victims of domestic violence. At the end of last month, a report was released stating an estimated 4.5 million to 15 million children a year are exposed to varying forms of physical violence in the home. How can children learn who God the Father is when earthly fathers are involved in domestic violence? How can children learn about the relationship between Christ and the church when parents are involved in domestic violence?
Has your heart been troubled of late as well? To be sure, society is losing its value for life and for children. Parents, 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert. [Our] adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” He wants to devour our children. Satan wants to pervert the image of God and destroy the family, the first institution created by God. You must be ever diligent in your responsibilities to “be on the alert.” Here are some brief suggestions:
- Pray. Pray for your children’s protection. This is a spiritual battle, and you need the Holy Spirit’s assistance. Pray for government leaders to make the correct laws and to uphold justice. Pray for our churches to make wise decisions. Pray for the countless victims.
- Prevent. Teach your children in age-appropriate manners that evil exists, and teach them how to be safe in the world and online. Implement appropriate behavior boundaries (e.g., “always stay in my line of sight at the mall,” etc.). The internet opens your up home to all that is in the fallen world. So, protect your digital devices using best practices, filters, and accountability so that predators cannot reach your children.
- Parent. Parent well and actively. Don’t assume anything—ask questions of the church, friends, neighbors, family, etc. so that you understand the environment your children are in. Ask your children questions and maintain lines of communication. You do not have to be a helicopter parent, but you do have to parent.
- Prepare. Be informed of the world around you. Are you aware of how many registered sex offenders live around you? Are you aware how your church vets Sunday School teachers and volunteers? Do you know what internet sites your children visit or what apps they use? Do you know where they are during activities?
- Proclaim. Proclaim the Gospel message. The Gospel alone can change the hearts of predators who would stalk our children. Be active in evangelism and discipleship to a dark and decaying world.
Heavenly Father, protect our children from the enemy and this fallen world. Help us as parents to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert” (1 Peter 5:8) and to raise our children so they increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Embolden us to proclaim the Gospel so that sexual abusers may repent and be transformed, and so that victims of sexual abuse may be renewed.