Saturday, December 15, 2012


Justin Holcomb (/authors/justin-holcomb) » God (/categories/god) Biblical Theology (/categories/biblical-theology)
Scripture (/categories/scripture) Children (/categories/children) Sin (/categories/sin) Culture (/categories/culture)
Suffering (/categories/suffering) Human Trafficking (/categories/human-trafficking)
We are regularly faced with the horror and prevalence of violence
( against children:
Yesterday, in what is yet another of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, a gunman killed 26
people ( at a Connecticut elementary school, including 20 children aged 5
to 10 years old.
Also yesterday, a knife-wielding man injured 22 children
aged 6 to 11 and one adult at a primary school in central China.
Almost half of all sexual abuse victims ( are children: 15 percent of sexual assault victims are under age twelve, and 29 percent
are ages twelve to seventeen.
Studies ( suggest
( that up to 10 million children in the
U.S. witness some form of domestic violence annually and approximately half of them are also
victims of domestic violence.
Children are also the victims of sex trafficking ( at horrific rates: In the U.S., the average age of entry into prostitution is
between 12 and 14 years old. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates( that over 300,000 American
children are at risk for sexual exploitation, and that an estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual
exploitation of minors occur every year within the United States.
The global market of child trafficking
_THE_FACTS_-_final.pdf) is over $12 billion a year, with over 1.2 million child victims. Child
trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes ( in
the world.
From 600,000–800,000 people are bought and sold
( across international borders each year; 50% are
children, most are female. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade.
Today, as many as 300,000 children (, some as young as eight years old, serve in armed government or rebel forces
around the world.
The only thing more staggering than the prevalence of this violence is the acute emotional, psychological,
and spiritual damage done to the children who experience it.
In light of all this, it’s important to look at Scripture and see how God feels about children and wants
them to be treated.
In his ministry, Jesus showed striking interest in and love for children. To the surprise of his disciples, he
often including them in his teaching: “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on
them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do
not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt 19:13–14
( When the disciples came to Jesus asking
him which one of them was going to be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom, Jesus called a child to himself
(Matt. 18:2 ( and said, “whoever humbles himself like this
child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:4 (
Jesus went on, telling his followers that part of their duty is to receive little children: “Whoever receives
one such child in my name receives me” (Matt. 18:5 (
In Mark 10 (, Jesus upholds childlike faith as admirable: “Truly, I
say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15
(; cf. Luke 18:17
Jesus wants his followers to honor, protect, and care for those among them who are small and vulnerable,
especially children. Part of Jesus’ ministry on earth involved healing children. In Mark 5:39
(, Jesus came into the house of a ruler of the synagogue,
whose daughter had just died. Jesus said that she was not dead, but only sleeping. After they laughed at
him, Jesus said to the child, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41
(; cf. Luke 8:54
( Mark recounts what happened next: “And immediately
the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome
with amazement” (Mark 5:42 ( Similarly, in Mark 9
(, Jesus encounters a young boy who had been having demonic
attacks. Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him (Mark 9:25
( and the boy fell down as if he were dead. Jesus took him by
the hand and he was healed (Mark 9:27 ( Jesus, who calls
himself “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25 (, bringslife and healing to children.
Jesus wants his followers to honor, protect, and care for those
among them who are small and vulnerable, especially
The tenderness and care Jesus showed for children is an expression of God’s heart toward the small, the
weak, and the vulnerable, as seen throughout the Old Testament.
Part of God’s law, given at Mt. Sinai, was that no one should “mistreat any widow or fatherless child”
(Ex. 22:22 ( Indeed, God is one who “executes justice for
the fatherless” (Deut. 10:18 ( and curses anyone who
perverts the justice due to orphans (Deut. 27:19 ( The
Lord says that no one should do wrong or be violent towards innocent children and orphans (Jer. 22:3
( Not only does God want his people to love and care for
children, but they are called to do everything in their power to stop those who try to hurt, abuse, or
oppress them. “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the
widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17 ( Children are a gift from God
(Ps. 127:3 ( and a blessing, and are to be loved, disciplined,
and cared for.
As we react to the shock and horror of violence against children, we should mediate on Jesus’ love and
care for children. But God’s love should do more than just make us feel better—it should lead us to imitate
his care for children, take action against evil like this, and pray for God’s peace and salvation to cover the
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
Psalm 46:1-4 (
Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil
and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to
employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory
of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer (