But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. – Luke 18:16 NIV
“Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.” – Joe the Plumber
I had always thought that if I could go back in time, I would want to go back to the time of great vision and change, the times of Jesus or of Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin.
I always pictured myself aligned with the passion and energy of prophetic insight, compassion and tangible progress.
The spirit of the times, at least looking back, seems unstoppable, even inevitable, and certainly appealing in the eyes of men and women of insight, and just, and timely, in the eyes of God.
Surely the Gospel, the abolition of slavery and a thousand other causes were compelled by an over-riding sense of justice and social, if not spiritual, awakening.
But I have been naïve.
As I look closer, I see that every reach of human justice, freedom and peace has been challenged, threatened or even quashed by those threatened by it.
But who could be threatened by the expansion of human freedom and justice?
Who would stand with violence and destruction against hope, children and the future?
We can see them as we study history, lining up like the dark forces of Sauron against all that we, and perhaps every human society, has held sacred. And they march under their own flag of self-righteousness.
Many of them unite in the name of ‘pro-life’, ‘pro-business’ and even ‘pro-environment’. But as Jesus, and many others, warned us, it is actions, not words that reveal one’s true character and motives.
If we look beyond the smiles and cheerful slogans, we see fear and cowardice, self-justification and a determined, and usually gleeful surge toward destruction.
Look a bit closer at their statements; “why should we care about climate change? It costs too much and only affects other people”.
“Why should we care about coal trains or fracking? Future generations won’t need oil, other fossil fuels or any other resources, besides, God is going to burn up the earth any day anyway.”
“And how dare the government (or media) use the deaths of children to ‘take away’ my gun rights?”
And when we have public figures, like Alabama judge Roy Moore, who insist that the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion only applies to their own religion, we know that we have leaders whose priority is their own privilege over (or exemption from) rules that apply to everyone else, and we see that we have slipped into a swirl of abstract self-referential justifications that close our eyes and hearts to real children, real problems and real pain.
The common theme here (and many other areas) is a near pathological self-absorption and short-sightedness.
And I can’t imagine Jesus saying any of these things.
But I can picture Jesus welcoming and protecting children from the vicious self-serving hands (and agendas) of those who would abuse, sacrifice or profit from their innocence. And I can picture Jesus recognizing, touching, healing and protecting real children.
Our Founding Fathers gave us a proclamation declaring our rights and responsibilities as independent citizens – not subjects. They called it The Declaration of Independence.
Joe the plumber and his followers promise us something more like a ‘declaration of perpetual toddlerhood’ where we, like eternal two-year olds, have nearly unlimited rights without consequence.
This is not ‘Constitutional’ or even coherent; this is not a freedom-drenched utopia, this is a weaponized fantasyland where every child, every one of us, is a target.
And every grievance is met, not with a thought-out, civil argument, but with a deliberate, or even random, threat. This is no civil society, this is pure vigilantism unleashed.
As Edmund Burke put it “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.” The Apostle Paul reminds us that our lives are never our own, our vision and our reach should, as God’s children, always be beyond our own boundaries.
We all love our own children, but to love, value and protect the children of others is what God clearly calls us to.
And God, I am convinced, calls us, whatever the cost, and whatever the cause, to be forever on the side of the children.