It seems like everyone has something to say about the recent string of shootings and terrorist attacks. Violence plagues this fallen world from Baton Rouge and Dallas all the way to Munich and Kabul. And with every new report, with every story and headline, comes a wave of social media commentary: comments filled with anger, rage, fear, and, of course, plenty of blame to go around.
With so many heart-breaking stories and so many polarizing responses, we find ourselves paralyzed. Not knowing what to say or even how to move forward, we end up doing nothing, saying nothing.
This is a problem. Silence in the face of brokenness is dangerous. And when we bring that into the home, our family becomes lost, searching for a response we failed to provide, and finding only the best counsel the world has to offer.
These difficult conversations are an opportunity to point our families to the Gospel.
When we do not engage in biblical, gospel-driven dialogue with our children about the sin, racism, violence, terrorism, and atrocities of our culture, we lose our voice and leave them no choice but to turn to another.
Let us never kid ourselves to think that our children are not hearing the same stories we hear. Let us not pretend that their Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter pages are not filled with the same wave of polarizing commentary. And let us not forget that the majority of these responses are worldly; devoid of godly wisdom.
We engage our families in discussion about the darkness that surrounds us so that we can have the privilege of pointing them to the light of Christ.
We talk about racism with our children so that the door can open to a devotion about the love that Jesus has for all nations.
We talk about violence and murder in order to remind them that we are all made in God’s image.
We talk about terrorism so that they have a context for Jesus’ command to “love your enemies.”
We talk about the wickedness and evil of this world so that they hear a gospel response that leads to:
- Engagement instead of apathy,
- Prayer instead of fear,
- Confession instead of blame, and
- Love instead of hate.
If we are silent, someone else will fill the void.
The Bible clearly shows the repercussion of the failure of spiritual leadership within the home, whether Adam’s failure to lead Eve (Gen. 3) or Ananias failing to lead Saphira (Acts 5). In both cases, sin breaks into the home and, with it, the unwanted feelings of fear, guilt, and shame, along with the unbearable consequences of broken relationship with the Father and physical death.
When spiritual leadership is lacking, someone or something else fills the void. When we choose silence, our paralyzed posture tells our children to take matters into their own hands.
We see this in Genesis 34 when Shechem rapes Jacob’s only daughter Dinah. Jacob hears the savage report and, tragically, does nothing. He doesn’t yell. He doesn’t cry. He doesn’t even speak. It’s not that he’s not an emotional man. Later, when his favorite son, Joseph, is thought to be dead, Jacob tears his clothes, mourns for days, refuses to be comforted, and weeps for his son. With the rape of his daughter, however, he doesn’t shed a tear. There is no emotion, no action, and no leadership.
He doesn’t say a word and, in the absence of spiritual leadership, someone else will fill the void.
In this case, it is Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, who fill the void by deceiving their sister’s offender so that they will be able to easily walk through the city and murder every man. Their genocide goes far beyond an eye-for-an-eye and puts their entire family in danger from the surrounding peoples. Jacob chastises his sons, and yet still refuses to address Dinah’s rape. The story ends with Simeon and Levi asking their father, the would-be, should-be spiritual leader of the home, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”
Jacob failed to lead. The sons filled the void, and Jacob rebuked their response. The problem is that he never told them how to respond. He didn’t lead them. He didn’t guide them through a season of grieving or a plea for justice. He offered no alternative reaction. There was no prayer, no mention of God, and no one to shepherd the family.
The need for spiritual leaders is great. The danger of not having them is disastrous.
Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.