Through Innocent Eyes
"He's just so innocent," Janine said of her son Ryan. The way she emphasized the word
innocent made it clear she thought him dimwitted to be so naive.
Ryan was eight years old.
Aren't eight-year-olds supposed to be innocent? In fact, isn't that what God intends for all of us? Paul told the
Romans, "I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil (Romans 16:19 NIV)." So why do
we allow our children to see things that destroy their innocence? How can we raise godly children that are "as
shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16 NIV)"?
Shortly after confessing he was addicted to pornography, our son Brandon surprised me by asking that I throw out
the newspaper inserts and put away or cancel TV Guide and Reader's Digest, magazines I considered fairly
innocuous. I couldn't imagine what troubled him about these publications until I flipped through a few trying to see
them as he would. A number of articles and ads featured immodestly dressed (or undressed) women. Though not as bad as
most magazines today and certainly not on the same level as Playboy and the like, they still caused our son to stumble.
You can't keep your child from seeing every sexually provocative depiction society presents him, but you can make
your home an island of safety in a sea of debauchery. Following Paul's counsel, you can help him become "wise
about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."
- Provide age-appropriate Christian reading material and videos. Focus on the Family and LifeWay offer many
godly and engaging alternatives to worldly reading and entertainment.
- Purge your home of anything that may make your child stumble. Try to look at things through your child's eyes.
Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions and Victoria's Secret catalogs have no place in a Christian home, rationalize
it however you like.
- Censor the movies and TV programs your child. Yes, I said the C-word. You can't just erase those scenes from
your child's mind once she's seen them so don't let her see them in the first place.
- Model Christ-likeness. You can tell your child anything, but it's your example he'll imitate. If you read
seedy romance novels or watch R-rated movies after the kids are in bed, don't expect your child to follow your
guidelines on maintaining purity of mind. Remember, you're the most important earthly role model he has.
- Coach your child to be wise in the ways of God. The Bible spells out moral guidelines God set in place,
giving us the opportunity to navigate our way around evil, not through it. Teach your child those principals.
Our goal is to raise godly children, not gullible ones. Being innocent doesn't mean they can't recognize evil
when they see it. By the same token, we don't have to create hardened, streetwise kids from uncorrupted
eight-year-olds like Ryan in order to protect them. When we teach them what God expects of His children and to
desire God's ways over anything the world has to offer, we instill in them the innocence God intends for us all.