Russell Moore spoke last week with musician and author Andrew Peterson on the Albert Mohler program. Thanks to my wife, I have been turned on to Peterson’s music and he is very good; his annual Christmas tour is always a popular series of shows. The discussion last week centered on our children, their imaginations, and their view of the world. I found some of their comments to be dead-on accurate and helpful for us parents.
The basis for the discussion is how children see the world. Peterson explains how his kids see a different kind of place when they take a walk through the woods. He says, “it’s not just a walk through the woods; it turns into a walk in ‘the forbidden forest.’ So being around kids and remembering what it’s like to look at the world in this way is a really healthy thing. It’s one of the many layers, I think, behind when Jesus says, ‘The kingdom of heaven is made up of such as these’—there’s a lot you can get out of that—but one of those things is I just think kids remember that the world is a dangerous, harrowing, magical, beautiful, wonderful place. And we lose some of that as adults.”
Moore takes that point and discusses how we as parents, Sunday School teachers, grandparents, etc, want to try and “take away” our children’s instinctive knowledge that something aint quite right in this world. Something has gone wrong. Instead of trying to teach that away, our job is to provide an answer for it. Moore says, “Yeah, you’re living in a haunted world. You’re living in a world haunted by demonic powers. That’s exactly right—what you deeply fear is indeed the case… Your worrying about the monster under the bed isn’t unreasonable; there’s a monster under the fabric of the cosmos. Instead, we give them a story that provides the only comfort that really is lasting comfort; it’s a comfort that the enemies have been defeated.”
Indeed. Coming into the room and showing our children that there really isn’t anything under the bed and that monsters don’t actually exist is, of course, a necessary thing. But we need to think twice about the legitimacy of their underlying concern. They are absolutely right that darkness, demons, and monsters are trying their very best to devour them. Once again, the place we are to turn in our parenting is the Gospel. The Gospel takes seriously the reality of death, sin, darkness, and monsters. And it crushes them. Comfort for our children, and for us, can only come in the person of Jesus Christ and his accomplished work on the cross. These are the things we must keep teaching. This is the answer to the monsters under the bed. So keep on teaching!