I saw a post on Facebook recently that broke my heart. It was written by a young foster child who was about to be moved again into a new home wherein he listed things he wanted from his new family. Oh yes, he wanted the usual things: nice house with no bugs, clean clothes, love. Normal stuff.
Also included in the list: Don't hit on me, no drugs and don't kill my pets.
A young child should never have to acknowledge these things. This poor soul is getting corrupted by the world at a terribly young age.
Of course, as we grow older, we all come to realize wretched things do happen—even if they don't happen to us. It's just the natural happenstance of growing up in an increasingly decadent world. We gradually get to know that abuse, drugs and murder do exist out there. It does us little good to know these things, but we do. And surely, little kids don't need this information.
Back in the day, we used the term "precocious" to describe kids who were mature beyond their age in knowledge and behavior. It was full of Mary Poppins-like innocence of a young lad who was a bit more advanced than his years might indicate.
This is not that.
This is a wholesale corruption of a young mind by the dark forces of this world. It is a huge burden for a young mind to adapt to and overcome. Many simply don't. They view this as normal because, to them, it is normal.
Like most things, this operates on a continuum: from the merely jaded to thoroughly corrupted. Most youngsters are not this defiled at such an early age, but all too many of our youth are exposed to some dark truths too early in life.
Clearly, we cannot keep our kids protected from all knowledge of evil all of the time. We can't lock them in a tower (although, at times, we'd like to). But we should shield them from as much as possible for as long as possible so that they can enjoy and cherish the innocence of their youth.
This is not to be squandered.
There is value in such childlike innocence. Psalms 119:9 says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." Clearly, if we all lived closer to God's word, we wouldn't have letters from foster children like the one above. Also true is that the Bible recognizes that purity is a quality to be cherished and preserved.
Follow me on this. The soul is the most basic component that is shared by all of humanity. Each soul shares the same basic aspects: all are created equal, all have the same worth, all have the same intrinsic attributes. All are loved by God. They are all alike, but somehow slightly different. Call it personality. All souls are housed in human forms which have essentially the same makeup, but again, are slightly different. So, if equivalent souls are housed in comparable bodies, why is there such a difference in behavior? Freewill, you say? Yes, we all have freewill to do good or evil, but why does one soul housed in one human form (let's just call this thing a "person") do so much good, while another one does so much evil?
Well, I don't claim to fully know the answer, but I submit that at least one factor is exposure. Are we exposed to God, truth, beauty, love or are we exposed to the more debased things that this world has to offer? Guarding our exposure is the essential message of the verse above.
We do need to defend our children's innocence, but the corrupting influences are everywhere. Movies, TV shows (even cartoons and commercials) and music lyrics often contain, to varying degrees, some lurking evil. We owe it to the next generation to shield and protect them from these words, thoughts and images which will sully their minds. Just as we protect our kids from physical dangers, we also need to protect them from mental and spiritual dangers. Don't let them grow up too soon. Don't expose them to the world before you have to. Cherish their innocence; don't undo it.
The Bible contains the following relevant truths on the topic of innocence:
'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:40)
"But what if someone leads one of these little ones who believe in me to sin? If he does, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned at the bottom of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)
We can protect our children's innocence by shielding their exposure to the wickedness of the world. Don't let their purity be squandered.
— Eric S. Livingston is a meteorologist, husband, father and double Pop-Pop. He resides in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri.