If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV
While this post isn’t necessarily about continuing our individual patterns of sin long after we’ve figured out that we are doing something wrong, that line of thinking is certainly present in what I’m going to say. The focus of this post is that we have a duty to act or at least to confront behaviors that put others in harm’s way if we realize that the behavior is likely to cause harm. And playing dumb doesn’t count…
On several occasions lately, I’ve been placed in the unfortunate position of having to shepherd some other person’s flock. How a parent can think that it is okay for their children to be left unsupervised in a public place is beyond me. With all of the evil things we hear about in the news or even the rampant neglect and abuse that we may witness throughout the course of our daily interactions, what parent would feel okay with letting their child run around a public place, hitting other children and being blatantly disrespectful to strangers? Not everyone is patient or kind and although it may well take a village to raise a child, it only takes one psychopath to kidnap, molest, or otherwise victimize a child that is running around unsupervised.
I believe and I have witnessed that God does protect those who cannot protect themselves in most instances. For whatever reasons, only He knows what those may be, threats to our children still exist. Sometimes they are strangers, sometimes they are people that they must come in contact with on a regular basis. The courts aren’t doing their part to protect them, but I’ve found that they will definitely go the extra mile to protect the rights of those who have inflicted pain on others. Even if it means putting an innocent child in harm’s way and just keeping their fingers crossed that the offender won’t decide to strike again.
Sometimes, it’s the child’s own parent or parents who pose the biggest threat to them. Parents who are so self-absorbed that they cannot see their way around their Smart Phone screen to make sure that their eighteen-month old child isn’t running outside by themselves probably shouldn’t be allowed to have both the phone and the child. In some cases, it might be best to limit their access to both. I realize that this sounds harsh and I prayed long and hard about how “nice” a person should be when confronting the kind of irresponsibility that often causes children to get hurt. After much consideration, I decided that God instilled this “overprotective” motherly instinct in some people to make up for the complete and utter lack of instinct that some parents seem to possess. I also realize that being a parent is tough and that not everyone who takes on the challenge is up for it. I know that some are doing the best they can, but there are others who clearly don’t care what happens to their children and that is inexcusable.
But there is something that is almost worse than an individual who abuses a child. A person that would stand by and allow it to happen because they feel that it is none of their business is really doing as much harm as the person who is directly hurting the child. To sit by and refuse to confront the behavior is basically to condone the behavior. So, while we can sit back and complain about someone whose parenting skills leave much to be desired, if we aren’t willing to step up and say or do something to intervene, then we might as well be the one perpetrating the abuse or neglect. How can a child learn to trust anyone if an entire group of adults is observing the way they are treated and never takes the initiative to say anything? That child will begin to think that the behavior is normal and that there is no reason to tell anyone when they are being hurt. And so, the cycle of violence will continue because children who have never been protected from harm will grow into adults who see nothing wrong with harming their own children and they will take on the characteristics of those who taught them how to treat the ones they “love.”
The sad truth is that while it is definitely uncomfortable to step up and tell someone that they need to learn some manners, it’s even more uncomfortable to hear news of a child being hurt or killed because no one had the backbone to stand up for them. I figure that I can take it if someone wants to try and treat me that way. I’m perfectly okay with stepping in between an abusive or neglectful parent and their child if need be. At least I know that if they manage to land a punch, it will likely be one of the worst decisions they’ve made.
He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.
Proverbs 2:7-8 NIV