​Children should not be for sale

Faithwriters.com challenge entry – 16-Mar-17 – Intermediate – Topic: Childhood
Childhood is big business. Programmes on children’s television channels are interspersed with high pressure advertisements for the latest toys, clothes or even holiday destinations. Commercial caterers vie for contracts to feed schoolchildren, with vending machines for those snacks between meals. Educational priorities are determined by the need to provide workers to improve the economy. Even health is montised; obesity in Western countries is a problem because of the future cost to the health service. It seems that our children are only as important as the money they can earn, spend or save. As a consequence,  some people consider that if they provide for the material needs of their children, they have done well.

This is  not the attitude we find in then Bible. When his disciples tried to prevent children interrupting a sermon, Jesus said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ (Matthew 19:14 NIVUK) Jesus blessed the children for their own sake, not because of any economic worth they might bring. 

An English local newspaper recently reported that parents were moving to the area to enter their children in the best schools,  then moving away again. Yet a recent study found no evidence that attending a school with higher grades necessarily improved the long term outcomes for the majority of children. More important factors included the level of parental support for the child and involvement in the life of the school. The Daily Mile is being introduced to many UK schools not only because it will reduce the costs of remedying obesity in the future, but because healthy children are more alert and engaged with their lessons. And families that eat and play together are demonstrably happier and less likely to break up.

None of these models of behaviour costs money but they do require a change of attitude. The Bible teaches that children are a gift from God to be treasured and nurtured for their own sakes. Perhaps if we adopted the same view and invested time and energy in the children we encounter, we would reduce some of the problems of our society. Who knows, we may even find that we enjoy ourselves more.

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About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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