Our world is full of evil. That’s not new. It’s been that way since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. A lot of different factors just make it appear more obvious and pervasive than ever. Your kids may already be asking why some of these evil things are happening. If not, you may want to initiate a conversation about evil.
There are some basic ideas you need to teach your kids about evil.
God’s original plan for the world was perfect. When Adam and Eve sinned, they introduced evil into the world. The rest of the Bible addresses God’s plan for us to receive forgiveness for our sins and live with Him in Heaven for eternity. The world being full of evil does not mean God is not a good God. He gave us free will – we are not His robots. He wants us to choose Him. Unfortunately, all of us – except Jesus when he was on earth – have sinned. To be part of that new perfection in Heaven, we have to follow God – which includes becoming a Christian and obeying God’s commands. Sin and evil are because of the poor, sinful choices people have made, not because God doesn’t love us.
Satan is alive and active in the world today. Satan is not a myth or a character in a fairy tale. Satan is very real. They also need to know Satan is doing what he can to encourage evil in the world.
Satan wants your children to reject God. Your kids need to thoroughly understand Satan is an enemy they are fighting. Satan doesn’t want their property. He wants them to reject God and live a selfish life full of sin.
Satan has a bag of tricks at his disposal. You might want your older kids to read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It does a great job of pointing out some of Satan’s favorite tricks. On a basic level for very young children, you can explain Satan tries to convince them to sin and he also tries to convince them not to do the good things God wants us to do.
Even though Satan is tricky, your children have 100% control over their actions. One of the biggest problems in society today is personal responsibility is a concept that is no longer embraced. Your children need to absolutely understand, although Satan is tricky, he does not make the final decision about what to do. Each of your children is entirely responsible for the choices they make. The idea of being “born” to sin is wrong. They may be born with a particular weak spot Satan can exploit (like addiction for example), but your child can still choose to protect that weak spot and not sin. Satan cannot force anyone to sin. It can help to teach them Bible verses that talk about our selfish desires (Philippians 2 and James 4) and how they make us more vulnerable to Satan’s temptations.
Each child has different weak spots that will be vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. Does one of your children anger easily? The emotion is not a sin, but the actions that happen after the emotion can be sinful. Satan will know that child has a hot temper and will do everything he can to feed your child’s anger in hopes your child will eventually sin. Your (hypothetical) angry child should receive lots of coaching from you about how to be aware of this weak spot and work on it, so he/she is not as vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Each of your kids will have different weak spots and some weak spots all of your children may have. They all need to be addressed and a plan established for how to avoid Satan’s attacks on these areas.
They need to ask for God’s help. Teach your children the power of prayer. If they have been baptized, teach them about how the Holy Spirit can help them avoid temptation. Satan can exhaust even the most spiritual person. We can’t successfully battle him for very long without God’s help. Your kids need to know they aren’t fighting the battle against Satan alone.
One way to lessen the amount of evil in the world to is teach people about Jesus and God’s plan for their lives. The world doesn’t understand that evil comes from disobeying God’s commands. They have a movable moral compass, which makes it hard to define and rid the world of evil. In theory, as more people become Christians, the amount of evil in the world should begin diminishing. Of course, this means we also need to encourage other Christians to be more godly (and work on being more godly ourselves).
Ultimately God wins. Revelation is a tough book to understand. The biggest lesson from it though is ultimately God wins and takes his people to Heaven. Satan will never be able to touch them in Heaven. Sometimes it seems there is so much evil in the world Satan must surely be winning the war of good v. evil. In reality, Satan is only winning a few battles. The winner of the war itself has never been in question. God will win and your kids need to be on the winning side.
Teaching your children to be watchful against Satan and his tricks, will make it easier for them to make godly choices. Satan will still win a battle or two against your children, but if you have trained them to be watchful he won’t win the war for their souls. That is what Christian parenting is ultimately about – preparing your children to win the war against Satan. Parents always say they just want their kids to be happy. Hopefully, Christian parents have an even more important goal – wanting their kids to spend eternity in Heaven.
One of the most difficult aspects of Christian parenting is truly seeing your kids’ heart for God. It’s impossible to know someone’s heart accurately unless they choose to honestly share it with you. As children grow older, they realize that filtering what parts of their heart they show to their parents can save them a lot of time and trouble. Some kids even begin portraying a false image of what is actually on their hearts, to avoid potentially upsetting others.
It’s difficult to help your child grow spiritually when you are parenting to a partial or incorrect image of their heart and what it feels and believes about God, the Bible, Christianity and more. You need to find ways to encourage your kids to reveal more about their hearts in honest ways.
Art can be a useful way to encourage kids to open up about their feelings. There is something about art that encourages those engaged in it to choose colors and images that reflect parts of who they are or what they think and feel. You can take advantage of that and find ways to use art to get your kids to open up about their personal faith.
Grab plain white paper and some art supplies. If you can afford or make some sort of art supply that is new to your children, that can make it more likely the art will be authentic as they focus on experimenting with the new medium. Participating with your kids and creating your own art work can give you more opportunities for a great discussion when you are finished.
Explain that you will give them a title for their piece of art. They can create anything using words or images that will fit the title you have given them. Give your kids a title like, “Who Is God to Me?”. Then give them the time and freedom to create their answer to that question. Have them explain their finished work of art. Ask interested questions. Why did they choose those particular things? What would they absolutely not have included in their work of art? What would someone who knew nothing about God learn from their finished creation? The more they become engaged in talking about their masterpiece, the more of their heart they are likely to reveal.
To make it more interesting, give each child a different title for their piece of artwork. Create a family art museum. Do the project more than once with different questions and different mediums. Find ways to share the finished art with others. It’s a fun way to check in periodically on your kids’ heart for God.
Kids are full of questions. It can be exhausting to help them find the answers they want. When many kids reach preschool, their parents become tired of answering the constant questions. They begin evading or changing the subject. Soon kids stop asking their questions. They leave those holes in their knowledge or find other ways to get the answers they want and need.
Unfortunately, if their questions are spiritual, this can have disastrous results. Those unasked and unanswered questions by parents can lead to doubts or answers provided by people who don’t give godly answers.
There are fun ways to be proactive and teach your kids some of the more difficult concepts in the Bible. Instead of teaching your kids a bunch of big words with definitions they still may not understand, using familiar objects can make the concepts understandable and memorable.
Object lessons use an object familiar to kids and take something about that object to help them understand a more difficult and often abstract idea in the Bible. We’ve listed a few examples below to get you started.
The Trinity. The idea of one God who has three different manifestations is extremely abstract and difficult for even adults to fully understand. Ice, a bowl and a microwave can help. Show your kids the ice. Ask them to describe it and tell you everything they know about it. Place it in a bowl and heat it in the microwave just long enough to melt the ice, but not hot enough to create steam. Have your kids describe the water. Then place it back in the microwave (or on a pan on the stove) and get it hot enough for the water to become steam. Ask your kids to describe the steam. Point out that all three were water, but in different forms. In fact they were all from the exact same water. Draw the connections to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
How our behaviors can be influenced by others. Take some celery (or white carnations), glasses of water and food dye. Ask your kids to describe the celery. Take particular note of the lovely green color. Make a fresh cut at the bottom of a stalk and place it in a glass of water you have colored with food dye. Observe as the celery takes in the colored water and begins to change color. Explain to your kids that others can influence our beliefs, thoughts, words and actions if we spend enough time with them. The celery did not expect to change color by hanging out in the colored water, but it did. Likewise, they can be influenced to do things God doesn’t want them to do – even if they don’t intend to disobey Him – merely by spending a lot of time with people who don’t obey God.
The Blood of Jesus covering our sins. Take a piece of white paper, yellow markers or crayons and red plastic wrap (depending on how dark it is, you may need more than one layer put together for this to work). Have your kids name some things that God has told us are sins. Encourage them to write or draw these sins in yellow marker on the white paper. Explain about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and how our sins are forgiven through baptism…because the blood of Jesus covers those sins. Place the red plastic wrap (representing the blood of Jesus) over the sins your kids have written and watch them disappear. For older kids, you may also want to discuss trying to avoid sin and praying for forgiveness once they have become Christians.
Sins darken our hearts if we reject God and remain in sin. Grab some bread without preservatives. Cut it into the shape of a heart (dampening it slightly will make the mold grow faster). Ask your kids to name some sins. As they name a sin, have them use their hands to “put” that “sin” on their heart, by naming the sin and touching the bread with their hands (and the imaginary word representing the sin). After several “sins” have been placed on the bread, put the bread heart in a plastic baggie and seal it. Watch it for several days. Point out to your kids that at first those “sins” appear to have no impact on the bread heart. As more and more mold grows, discuss the problems with remaining enmeshed in sin. Continue until the bread is totally covered in mold. Compare it to the original state of the heart. Point out that sin can darken our hearts – especially over time.
There are many other object lessons you can find online, or you can create your own. Young children may still struggle a bit even after an object lesson, but over time object lessons can help your kids better understand and remember difficult spiritual concepts.
Many school districts are using distance learning for at least the first semester. While some of you may be dreading several more months of this hybrid learning, it actually gives you an opportunity to add Bible study to your child’s day.
Whether it’s distance learning or homeschooling, most of you will find your kids have extra time in their day. It may be because they are no longer commuting to school or because some of their extra curricular activities have been cancelled. If your child is in a district where a certain amount of work must be completed, but at the child’s own pace, the lack of changing classes and other time wasters in school creates extra time.
Why not make use of this extra time to teach your kids about God? It doesn’t matter if they are attending public school, because in your home you can use that extra time for Bible study. Here are four great ways to make time to study the Bible with your kids.
Use the time your kids would have spent commuting for a family devotional. Even if you took your kids to school, that gives you a good ten to twenty extra minutes to start the day with a family devotional.
Use Teach One Reach One activities to help your kids practice school skills. Some districts are giving parents ideas, but allow them to use whatever means they prefer to help their kids practice academic skills. Originally created for faith based tutoring, our website has hundreds of free activity ideas to help your kids practice academic skills in language arts, math, science, health and more.
Add a Bible class to their schedule. Once again, this may depend upon how your school district structures the day. If kids are working at their own pace and just checking in for lectures periodically, you may find you have time to add your own extra class – Bible – to the schedule. Our website has tons of free ideas for activities for regular Bible lessons, too.
In discussions about any number of topics, people often resort to using logical fallacies in an attempt to prove their point. These fallacies appear logical on the surface, but are actually based on poor logic. As a result, the arguments often collapse under the questioning of someone aware of logical fallacies.
Your children may be exposed to logical fallacies used by people trying to undermine God as well as Christians trying to convince them to obey God. It is not necessary for Christians to use logical fallacies as God is Truth. Teaching your kids about logical fallacies can help them avoid false teaching, attempts to convince them to deny God and other things that could weaken or destroy their faith.
It is crucial that you avoid using logical fallacies in your teaching of the Bible to your kids. Often a little research or re-wording a few sentences can remove the most common logical fallacies used by Christians and actually make your Bible lesson or points stronger as a result.
Below are some of the more commonly used logical fallacies. There are many more you can access online if you wish to explore this topic in more depth.
Fact, Inference or Opinion. While technically not a logical fallacy, it can confuse children in a similar fashion. Authors and speakers may state or imply something as if it were a fact, when it is actually their opinion. Follow up questions can often expose a fact or inference as an opinion. Inferences and opinions can be correct, but it is important to understand whether or not there are actual facts that support or undermine them.
Existence on the internet equates to verifiable truth. While this also falls under other logical fallacies, it is an important dynamic for many young people. They often get much of their information online. They have come to believe if a statement or source is listed on a search engine it is a reliable source of truth. In reality, anything found online must go through the same filters for truth as information obtained from other sources.
Correlation equals causation. This is the assumption that because two things are often found in correlation to one another that one causes the other. This may or may not actually be true and requires further scrutiny to assess causation. Example: Christianity causes mental illnesses. The logical fallacy would assume there is something about Christianity that causes mental illness because a large number of Christians have a self reported mental illness. There could be any number of reasons for the cause of mental illnesses found among Christians.
False dilemma. This assumes that the extremes of an issue are the only options. It is often used to portray Christianity as extremist. Example: The Bible says lying is sinful. The false dilemma would assumethat therefore Christians believeeveryone who tells a lie is going to Hell. This is ignoring the possibility of repentance, forgiveness and other Christian beliefs.
Argument from authority. This fallacy quotes an “expert” who may or may not actually know the truth. This could be anything from a secular scientist, to a famous preacher and even taking Bible scriptures out of context. There is also a possibility that what the “expert” said surrounding the quote actually helped to clarify that the speaker believed the exact opposite of the quote.
Red herring. This logical fallacy is usually used by someone in the course of an argument, often when they appear to be losing. It is a statement thrown out to distract the opponent and change the topic of the argument.
Loaded question. This logical fallacy makes use of a question in which any answer will make the person giving the answer look foolish. It is often asked not because the person actually wants an answer to their question, but because they want their opponent to appear in a negative light. For example, if someone asked, “Where exactly is Heaven?”, any answer would be problematic. Attempting to give an exact location would cause scorn, because there is no way to prove you are correct. Likewise, responding “I don’t know” makes it appear there is not a Heaven because you cannot identify its location.
Possibility fallacy. This fallacy argues that because something could possibly happen, it will probably happen. This can be used for example to make people feel threatened by God in some way. God struck Annanias dead for lying, therefore he will probably strike Bob dead if he is lying, too. God may or may not give everyone the same earthly consequences for disobedience.
Ad hominem. In this logical fallacy, a person discounts what is said based on the person rather than analyzing what was actually said. This often takes the form of disparaging the person. Example: “Well of course the Apostles confirmed the resurrection. They had an ulterior motive.”
Bandwagon. This assumes that if the majority of people believe something to be true, then it must indeed be true. The truth may actually rest with the minority.
Either-Or. In this fallacy, a person presents two unacceptable options as if they are the only possible options. In reality, there may be numerous possible options that are better for one or both parties.
Argument from ignorance. This fallacy is used by someone in a discussion when they begin throwing out ideas and “facts” with no actual knowledge of whether those things have been tested or are true.
Circular Logic. This is when someone continually repeats their original belief as the support for its validity. Example. “That is just wrong.” “Why?” “Because it is just wrong to do that.”
Dogmatism. This person will not listen to any views except their own. Nothing the other person says or does will ever change their mind on the topic.
Emotional Appeals. This often occurs when someone trusts their emotions more than any evidence. It can also be used in an attempt to scare the other person into agreeing with them. Example: “God says it is a sin to lie.” “It just does not feel right for God to get upset because someone lied to spare another person’s feelings. Surely, God is okay with those lies.”
Fallacy of exclusion. Often this is used by someone who can think of one or two specific examples of the supposed truth of their argument. Those examples, however, may be the exception instead of the rule. Example: “All Christians are hypocrites. I knew this Christian one time, who was a preacher and I caught him lying.”
Faulty analogy. This is an attempt to relate two things that may actually have nothing in common. Example: Christianity is the opiate of the masses.
Non sequitur. This is when the conclusion does not follow the premise. Example: If God were good, he would not let bad things happen.
Slippery slope. This logical fallacy is itself a slippery slope. Sometimes starting down a road does quickly lead to more intense consequences. The fallacy is in assuming every choice will lead to rapid, desperate consequences. Example: If we don’t have Sunday School on New Year’s Day, the next thing you know, we will never have Sunday School.
Lack of evidence. This is when someone claims you cannot be correct in your position, because there is no definitive, irrefutable proof or evidence. This is often used in religion in disagreements that align with, “You can not prove God exists.” and “You can not prove God does not exist.” In reality, neither side will be able to produce irrefutable evidence until Christ returns.
Straw man. In this fallacy, one person makes a statement so extreme, no one would agree with it in hopes of destroying the other person’s argument. Example: Two people are discussing Christianity. One person says, “Hitler was a Christian.” As if the fact that Hitler may have been a Christian, therefore undermines Christianity itself.
Repetition. While technically not a logical fallacy, repetition is a common tactic in propaganda. The theory is that if you repeat your message often enough and loudly enough, many people will begin to believe it is true – regardless of the statement’s actual validity.
Glittering generality. This is when people use a broadly defined word such as “love” without defining it in an attempt to win an argument. Example: Two people are discussing something God has called a sin in the Bible and whether or not they should speak to a fellow Christian regarding that sin.. “But God wants us to love our neighbors.” While that is indeed true, “love” in this person’s argument is used very generally. Love in this case may actually be encouraging the person to repent of their sin, not ignoring the sin.
Transfer. This is another technique often used in propaganda. It is portraying someone or something in a particular way in hopes that image will transfer its meaning upon the person or philosophy. It is often employed when portraying Christians in movies and books with actors and characters who appear judgmental, backward and unattractive. The hope is that those introduced to the image will transfer the negative image to all of Christianity and not just that specific example.
Snob appeal. This is an attempt to convince an opponent that everyone that person admires agrees with the speaker’s position. It is often most effective with people who are already in an elite circle or are in hopes of becoming part of one in the future. It is a form of peer pressure that focuses on attaining or maintaining a highly desired social status in their culture.