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Christian parents are called to help their children to think about, interact with, and evaluate current issues from a biblical perspective. Cultivating a Christian worldview is one of the main components of child training.

Over the last couple of years, as ISIS has been increasingly in the news, we have had a number discussions as a family about what has been happening. Our 6 children range from 4 to 20, so there needs to be thoughtful care given to the details of our discussion. However, it is quite near impossible to tame down the atrocities of ISIS to a general audience.

Our children became quite concerned—and with good reason. The barbaric beheadings speak of ancient tribal savagery rather than modern military battles. Most of the conflicts they have heard of have involved airplanes, ships, and soldiers. Now these guys come along with a fearlessness that is only matched by their thirst for blood. Of course our kids are concerned—we are concerned.

In talking with one of my children who admitted her concern, even fear about them taking over America and the world, I gave her the following advice.

1. ISIS is a group of very evil and bad people. They don’t love God or want to honor him. This is why they are doing these things (Col. 1:21; Titus 3:3). Remember that this is what comes out of an unbelieving heart. All of us have sinful hearts and need to turn to and trust Jesus (Eph. 2:1-3). Not all of us do the same wicked things as ISIS but we all need a Savior, we are all suffering from the same problem: sin.

2. The world has a lot of bad guys in it who love to do sinful things for the same reason (John 3:19-20). Even in America, there are horrible, unspeakable things happening every day (murder, abortion, abuse, etc.). This is because we live in a fallen, broken world (Rom. 1:18-25, cf. #1).

3. This type of thing has been going on throughout history, and even throughout your young life. There have been lots of bad guys and terrorists doing evil things since even before you were a baby.

4. Our security does not ultimately come from America or even our ability to protect ourselves, but from God (Ps. 20:7, Ps. 121:2).

5. God has given you a Daddy to protect you and I will do it with all of my strength and resolve.

6. The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders and all of those given charge over us that we may lead quiet peaceable lives (1 Tim. 2:1-4). Let’s pray for our president and military commanders and thank God that we have those who serve in this way.

7. Pray that God would save some members of this terrorist group. Remember the Apostle Paul, he was basically a terrorist, like ISIS, who killed Christians. God saved him and used him very powerfully for the gospel.

8. Pray for the Christians being persecuted. Pray that they would be comforted by the Holy Spirit and that they would be faithful, even if it means unto death.

9. Remember that Jesus is coming back again. He will punish all evil and set up his kingdom and reign forever. He will make all things new and there will be no more tears, suffering or death. There will be no more bad guys there (Rev. 21:1-5).

10. Jesus told us to pray that God’s name would be honored, his kingdom would come, his will would be done (Mt. 6:9-13). Let’s pray for this with confidence and anticipation because we know this day is coming. Maybe even soon!


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7 thoughts on “What Do You Tell Your Kids About ISIS?”

  1. Curt Day says:

    It seems that what we tell our kids about ISIS depends on their ages. I can’t see talking to a teenager about ISIS without mentioning the historical context of ISIS and similar groups while the above list seems more than appropriate for very young children. And in telling our older kids about item #2 in the list, we need to mention not just the sins that occur in America like abortion and murder, though those are essential items to bring up; we need to include the sins committed by America in how it behaves in the world. Older children, starting with the teenage years, need to learn about the context of these attacks and groups like ISIS. And they need to learn that we can’t externalize evil, that, because of sin, our own nation can be guilty of evil in terms of how it treats other nations.

    But we also need to pray not just for what Paris suffered this weekend, we need to pray for Beirut, Baghdad, and the continual attacks that have occurred this year in Kenya.

  2. Jill says:

    Thanks for sharing your parenting perspective. I do disagree, though, that “They don’t love God or want to honor him.” At least at an ideological level, everything ISIS does is supposed to be for the glory and honor of Allah. ISIS is not a secular group bent on doing evil. They are a highly religious group, bent on purging the world of sin as defined in their own twisted view of Islam. That’s completely different than a group that’s simply out on a political agenda. I think that, with kids old enough to understand, they need to be taught that a perverted view of theology IS driving this group. They are, in some ways, much more passionately “acting on” their faith than many Christians are. We tell our children that, to help explain why it absolutely does matter WHAT you believe, not just that you believe it with fervor.

  3. Chuckt says:

    What you are really seeing is the sin from the garden of Eden. Why?

    The sin was that man wanted to become God. When man becomes god, who does he have to answer to? Man has to answer to no one when he becomes god so they are able to do all of these things and not have to answer to anyone.

  4. Cherie Gardner says:

    Our responsibility as parents is not to create a world view in our small children and expose them to grave images such as beheadings or shirk our responsibility to protect them from such evil sights. To just throw up your hands and say that shielding them from the images of beheadings is almost impossible tells me that you are allowing them to sit in front of the television and watch them, and also not directing conversation to be tailored with small ears in discussion. The word talks says “Woe unto” on serious topics and “woe unto those who cause one of these little ones to stumble” is among them. We don’t need to let every grim image that comes on the news invade our homes and defile our children’s psyche. To shield them is wise. To talk with them assuredly good but without letting the worst images be shared. If the ages range so broadly perhaps shield the youngest ones and speak with the older ones separately. This would display prudence and wisdom. We ARE called to share the word of God with them and fill them with that knowledge so that they can see when they look at the world how it is framed according to God and His law. They don’t need to be subjected to every form of evil at a young age.

  5. Sara says:

    God is in control, our HOME is in heaven and Jesus shows us best how to show LOVE for ALL.

  6. Chuckt says:

    Cherie,

    They invited the children down at our church in the fourth grade which may have included the third grade. They saw pictures of what was going on in Iraq which included children horizontal having heart attacks because they couldn’t handle escaping from the invaders in Iraq. They told them what was happening but they withheld a lot of the details. It is almost a rule that at least fifteen men rape every woman captured over there.

  7. Bill says:

    Young children should be told the truth, regardless of age. Kids at a young age remember what they are told in some manner and one cannot veil reality. Doing so is a proven detriment to young minds. Simply put the truth in terms youngsters will understand and tell the truth, answering their questions. A child who does not understand an answer accepts the answer and will ask more questions later, so be prepared.

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Erik Raymond


Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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