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Blog In Christianity

Education about God Begins at Home

By Paul Bright
Posted Dec 17, 2012 in
The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy was almost too devastating to watch unfold on the news. So many children were taken from their parents without warning, leaving behind millions of people around the world asking questions like “how could this happen?”, “could we have stopped this?”, and “where was God?”
The last question is one I’ve wrestled with a lot. I’m a new deacon at my church. I’m also the parent of two tween-aged kids and have worked in a church nursery for years. And I’m working towards a degree related to the mental-health field. As you can imagine, all of these elements of my life came to a festering head when Adam Lanza opened fire in a 1st grade classroom.
Education about God begins at home, not in the classroom. My kids have been going to church as long as they can remember. When they get out of Sunday school, we ask them what they’ve learned. During the weeknights they willingly accompany us to church-related events where they socialize with other Christian children their age.
But during the week, they go to public school. We regularly check in with teachers to ensure they are staying out of trouble; progress report results are rarely a surprise. We don’t treat school as a babysitting drop-off. My hope and joy is when my kids act as verifiable witnesses for God in front of kids who otherwise don’t have that exposure.
There are many parents like us who are Christian and send their kids to public school with no problems because, no matter what they learn or don’t learn about God there, they get it at home, after school, at night and as an example from not just us but their peer groups. If they have questions, we answer or try to find the answer.
We have friends that don’t want their kids to be in public school and would rather have them homeschooled in a faith-based program. That’s a great, wonderful choice. Some other friends have their kids go to faith-based private schools. That’s also a great, wonderful option. But you know what? All of our kids are Christians with homes rooted in Christian fundamentals of love. However they get it, they aren’t being isolated from the rest of the world yet they still keep their faith strong.
Is Religion to Blame? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine), Jared Laughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Colorado), Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City), Cho Seung-Hui (Virginia Tech) and Eric Rudolph (Atlanta) are all responsible from some of the worst mass-murders in our country’s history. They all had some sort of mental health issues that were not properly addressed. The best medicine Loughner probably ever received didn’t happen until after he was arrested. Pundits claim that a lack of religion or faith in God is why these tragedies happened, yet all of these killers have something in common with my children: they were brought up in religious homes. Some were active in their churches when they were children. Just days before his death, McVeigh confirmed that he still believed in God.
So how could we blame lack of faith in society when all of these tragedies were committed by people raised in Jewish or Christian homes?
By that sentiment, we can’t any more than we can say “God caused it” because all of them had religious upbringing. We also can’t say that their parents did a horrible job of raising them with proper theological fundamentals because we don’t know what happens after church service at home. But this proves to me that just because they have been introduced to God in their lives it would have prevented them from killing.
God is not to blame for Sandy Hook Elementary from happening. Statistically speaking, this tragedy was so rare despite the horror of it. Thousands of schools with thousands of students are open every day without incidents of this magnitude. They are filled with thousands of kids that come from thousands of families with religious upbringing, or homes with guns in them or mental illness that’s treated or untreated. With a vast majority of our country claiming to be Christian and millions who consider themselves religious, I’d say that God does an excellent job of providing resources for protection.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Satan turns sickness into evil. As I work towards my mental health degree and gain experience out in the field, I can tell you that there are some severe mental health disorders that, when not properly treated, do pose a danger to society and the patients themselves. When we leave these disorders to be untreated, this sickness becomes vulnerable to evil, and that evil comes from Satan.
I don’t think Satan makes us “do” things because God gives us free will, but Satan does likes to push our buttons.
1Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
How does he do it? He tries to isolate us from each other, make us think that if we seek treatment for mental health issues we’ll be labeled as crazy. He wants us to treat it as taboo. He wants us to fear what other people will think of us more than we fear God or the consequences. Satan wants us to think of what’s convenient and not about what’s right. He wants us to focus on guns and politics, not people and personal responsibility or accountability. Satan doesn’t want us to look at what are kids are doing online, who they are hanging out with, what’s in the homes of their friends or who their friends’ parents are. So long as the focus is on us, it won’t be on God. The more he can divide by keeping us off focus, the more Satan thinks he can conquer. That’s why it is rarely a case when the mass murderers were completely fine one day and then complete monsters the next. Satan wants us to ignore the signs of treatable mental illness manifesting into a demonic evil.
God heals the sick. God, however, has other plans. God cuts evil off by the roots.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Thank God for people like Drs. Larry Crabb, Henry Cloud, John Townsend and Paul Meier who have learned where mental health has its place in Christianity and are helping others make that connection with God. They’ve touched millions of believers who sought the help that they needed. If you are a Christian and go to doctors for physical healing because you believe they are inspired by God, why does that stop at the mind? When the bible says to bring all your worries and pain to the cross, it does not say “except mental health issues.”
Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken and binds up their wounds”.
We don’t have all the answers as to how we can help those with mental illness, much like don’t have the cure for all cancers and diseases. But we know that the first steps are identifying the need for help and to take action. Just as we hold our young children’s hands as they cross the street, we as parents need to take preventive action if our children’s vulnerabilities make them dangerous to themselves and others.
God is still the answer. Yes, God is still the answer to "where was God?" Even though free will and evil took place and sent God’s children to Him sooner than later, God was there, in the midst of the tragedy, protecting the others. He will be there for healing. He will be there for our leadership, for the parents, for those left behind and for the nation that is hurting.
Let’s be real. Maybe some of us can’t see Him at this very moment. If you can’t, and you are a believer, and you are a parent, and your children are asking you “why”, just turn to them and be honest. Tell your children- those blessings from God- that you don’t have all the answers. Hold onto them while you can. Raise them as how God wants you to raise them and teach them or allow them to be taught about God the right way, not necessarily how society wants you to.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
The bible and faith do not begin in the classroom; they begin at home.

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