[This article is originally a letter, sent to the pastors at Wasilla Bible Church, Wasilla AK, June 2, 2019, in response to a Sermon on wisdom & imparting it to children]
At one point in the sermon this morning, bro. Larry said he has no formula/way for imparting wisdom to others (parents to children, etc.). He said it is a thing one must seek out for one’s self. Larry then began to expose “smooth talkers” (grooming techniques, subtle and crafty presentation of ideologies) by “unfaithful persons” (those who are anti-Christ, perverted, adulterers, etc.). I commented to those nearby me (in the coffee shop), it sounds like Larry was talking about Catholic clergy… and SBC coverups too. The crimes of Catholicism have been in the news loudly enough, …
…but for the Southern Baptist Convention’s gross corruption, please see these articles from the Houston Chronicle:
Child Sex Abuse is not just a catholic or Southern Baptist thing. It is rampant in every religious institution, & coverups are likewise in every sect. Jesus says it would be preferable for millstone to be hung around a child offender’s neck & cast into the sea.
AND, If we teach our children that churches are safe, we do them a disservice. If we present our own institution as immune, we are fools. If we teach them only commands, motivated by shame, fear & guilt; or acceptance based on performance & behavioral uniformity, then they will conform in behavior but not grow in discernment or altruistic/virtuous desires. As a result, they will also see us (as parents & spiritual caregivers) as hypocritical, because we will be giving them commands at which we fail and hide in our own shame/guilt. They will not be transparent and open with us but instead become increasingly detached and secretive.
As I myself am a sexual abuse victim (at church, age 4) & as a father of 2, I understand your urgency to protect the innocence of our children.
In that vein, I give you a way I have learned to impart wisdom to children, not just for avoiding sexual predators but for navigating a spiritually voracious world of predators of all kinds & of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Want to give wisdom to your kids? It’s a fairly simple recipe:
A. Speak of & exemplify EMPATHY
B: Speak of & exemplify reverence for the AGENCY of others. [(i.e. the Divinity or Imago Dei in others); informed & age-appropriate, legal CONSENT, private parts & bad touches]
C. Speak of & exemplify a rejection of abuses of power
D. Promote thinking & encourage development of it by refusing to discourage less than mature thought processes (a.k.a. Hold conversation & allow genuine question & discussion)
E. Speak of & exemplify unconditional love/acceptance (i.e. allow for the making of wrong choices)
If the above seems “unchristian,” let me put it in Scriptural terms:
A. “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.”—Jesus (Luke 6:31; Matthew 7:1-20)
B. “In the image of God, he made them.”—1 Moses (Gen. 1); “I have said you are gods.”—Jesus (John 10:34)
C. “the leaders of the Gentiles lord it over them…. Not so with you…”—Jesus (Matthew 20:25-26)
D. “Love the Lord your God with all your… MIND… & your neighbor as yourself.”—Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 10:27; Deut. 6:5); “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5-6)
E. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (John the Beloved, 1 John 3:19-20)
I genuine hope this is a helpful rubric for allowing the grace and experience of Jesus to grow and dwell richly in our hearts and in the hearts of our children.