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Events like the Las Vegas shooting and now the Florida school shooting inevitably bring questions to people’s minds. Where was God? How could He let such a thing happen? For those who have been affected by the shooting, there are no words we can say that can assuage the grief. There is no answer that will make the pain go away. We can stand in solidarity with you, offering up our own grief and our own suffering, and reminding you that we are all in this world together. All we can do is our part, and our hearts and our prayers have been with you since we heard the news.
Friends, we are called to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), but we are not to “grieve like those who have no hope.” (1Thessalonians 4:13) We serve a God of love and justice, and no act—no matter how small or how large—goes unseen. Weep with those who weep, but not like those who have no hope. Click To Tweet
This podcast is in no way intended to reach those directly affected by the shootings, because words are empty and hollow in such a time as this. However, there are a lot of you Mama Bears out there that are probably getting some questions that you don’t feel prepared to answer. Ecclesiastes 7:4 says that “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.” It is amazing how the mundane, first-world problems of everyday life seem to melt away in the wake of true suffering. And while we don’t hope for these moments, or wish them upon anyone, we would be unwise to not seize upon the brief window of time that we have when our kid’s eyes are towards things that matter—things of eternal significance.
In today’s podcast, we address how to talk to kids who are asking questions about evil in the world, as well as getting to the root of the questions that they aren’t asking aloud. Join us as we wade through this incredibly delicate, but important topic. Conversations of significance often start with questions that terrify us. Click To Tweet
Talking With Your Kids About God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have by Natasha Crain
Why Does God Allow Evil? By Clay Jones
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away…” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
Lazarus and the Rich Man parable
“what no eye has seen…” 1 Corinthian 2:9
How to Respond to a Child Questioning Evil in the World:
- Affirm their grief and recognize first and foremost that he/she is exercising empathy.
- Talk about feelings. Ask how the event makes them feel. Teach them to analyze their own emotions. This is an important skill in self-regulating out of fight-or-flight and into rationality.
4 Sub-Questions Kids Are Really Trying to Ask:
- Is God really all-loving? Is He Good?
- Free will issue in creating Man.
- Obedience vs. heart change
- Is God really all-powerful? Could He have stopped this?
- Is God really all-knowing? Did He know this was going to happen?
- Am I safe?
The Food Game
Ask your child to tell you one food that he loves, one that he hates, and one that he finds boring.
Then ask if he would prefer to live in a world where he could eat the food he loves, but would also have to eat the food he hates, or in a world where only the boring food is available. This is akin to living in a world that has all the good and bad of free will, or only a bland, regulated existence.
Epicurus – A 4th Century B.C. Greek philosopher who developed a philosophy of living free of pain and in search of continual pleasure.
Job – A man of great suffering in the Bible. Job questions why God would allow his family to die and hardships to occur.
Søren Kierkegaard – A 19th century Danish Christian Philosopher. Mentioned here is his wondering if his family’s wealth was a hindrance to his growth and character.
C.S. Lewis A 20th century professor, writer, radio broadcaster, and champion for the Christian faith. He is brought up here in context of free will and viewing humans as being sub-rulers given much responsibility.
- The Problem of Evil – The age-old dilemma of trying to reconcile the all-powerful, all loving, and all knowing nature of God with the presence of evil in the world. As phrased by Natasha Crain: “If God is all good, He would eliminate evil. If God is all-powerful, He could eliminate evil. Evil exists, therefore 1. God doesn’t exist. He exists but he is not all good, or 3. He exists but he is not all-powerful.”
- The Fight or Flight Instinct – The ability of the human brain to perceive and initiate reaction to danger.
- Theodicy – An answer or explanation for the Problem of Evil.
- Free Will – Possessing agency, or the ability to control the choices one makes, rather than a higher power forcing a decision to act.
“It’s when someone’s not suffering that is the best time to address suffering.” – Hillary Morgan Ferrer
“You do not only suffer the consequences of your own good and bad [decisions], but you also suffer the consequences of someone else’s good and bad [decisions].” – Hillary Morgan Ferrer
“Do we want a God whom we can tame?” -Rebekah Valerius
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is the chief author and editor of Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies and Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality: Empowering Your Kids to Understand and Live Out God’s Design. Hillary has her masters in Biology and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for 15 years. Don’t let her cook for you. She’ll burn your house straight to the ground.
A simple way to cut the Gordian Knot is to drop the assumption that God exists. The Problem of Evil vanishes.
Yes, Bob, it does vanish, but so does the problem of goodness. Getting rid of God is a simpler way to cut to knot, indeed, but it turns out that it is too simple. In explaining away evil, it also explains away good. In addition to this, it explains away our experiences of both as some sort of useful fiction that has survival value. If evil is an illusion, so is good; so is the pain and suffering we experience along with the love we cherish. The universe is way more complex than that. We are more complex. The world does not need a philosophy that depicts suffering as merely some sort of randomly generated survival mechanism for it makes a mockery not only of our pain but of our highest aspirations to knowledge, goodness, kindness, excellence, and love. The beauty of our Christian creed, with its dying and rising Saviour, is that it is large enough to contain all of these.
Goodness does not vanish without God. To say good can’t exist without god is the most ignorant & illogical argument one could ever make. The majority of evil in the world has been caused by religion. Nothing has caused more misery, war, hate and murder than the belief in god. That’s like saying Christianity is all about love, kindness and peace, when the worst atrocities and mass murders on Earth, all which happened at a time before guns ever existed, was committed by Christians in the name of God.
God himself committed horrific acts of mass murder for nothing but silliness. Murdering humans for not murdering other humans. Practically murdered every living creature on Earth for fun. Murdered people for burning incense and climbing hills. Murdered families, babies & condoned rape. All after his 10 rules on two rocks forbidding those things. Even commits pedophilia with a 13 year old. Pounding these things into kids brain is what causes mental illness. Making people believe silly nonsense like spermless pregnancies are a thing is not good for a society. Good is about being truthful & honest. Good is doing the right thing even if it goes against everything.
Jesus, the alleged son of god, preached peace in direct contradiction of his father. He disobeyed his own father by preaching peace instead of war. How could Jesus be so peaceful? The bible shows he greeted & departed with people using the everyday phrase “Peace be upon you” or “Peace be with you” which in his native language of Aramaic is pronounced “Asalamulykum.” And Mathew 26:39 shows Jesus prayed on his face.
The bible states he was dark with thick hair (feet like bronze, hair like wool). And yet people who claim to love & worship him rather disrespect him by making him look like a white man with long hair. Disrespect him by changing his birthday from April to December. Changing his birth place from the District of Phoenicia of lower Galilee in Lebanon to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and/or Nazareth. Changing everything about him including his nationality of Lebanese (Aramaic) to Jewish (Hebrew). His whole family was from Qana (not Canaan), Lebanon. I have yet to meet one Christian who knows the truth about who Jesus really was, let alone who his grandparents were or even his last name. That’s not good, that’s bad. Accepting an imposter is disrespectful.
So how can anyone answer any questions or explain anything to kids without knowing the truth themselves? Lies & nonsense are what cause people to do bad things. Filling their head with confusing contradictions & fantasy takes away their ability to understand reality & truth. Nobody needs god to be good, they just need truth. If people need to be manipulated or cohered, or need an incentive or need anything at all in order to be good, then they are not good people to begin with. Being a good person because you believe someone else wants you to, or because you think it’s gong to benefit you, or because you’ll be rewarded for it, is not being a good person. Good people don’t need reasons or belief or faith or incentives. They don’t need to lie, or manipulate, or interfere, or ignore, or persuade, or push others into believing anything. They just do because they are. They don’t worry about what others think, or believe, or do, or choose.
And they certainly don’t try to change anything about the people they claim to love. Preferring a white long hair Jewish Jesus over a dark sinned middle eastern man who lived, spoke and prayed like a Muslim, isn’t love or respect. It’s the exact opposite. The Vatican knows the truth and yet they allow all of lies and deceptions about Jesus because they care more about their own well being and power than they do about the truth. That’s why things are so messed up. God has nothing to do with it. Blaming God for not interfering with the free will he gave you makes no sense/ It’s unintelligent and disrespectful. And worse, it’s a waste of the gift he gave everyone. The gift of intelligence. The gift to think for ourselves and not be manipulated or persuaded by other people who make up nonsense and pretend to speak for god. Following people who pretend to know what god thinks, wants, needs, likes, hates, despises, accepts, desires, expects, and even says, as if he was incapable of doing anything himself, is unintelligent & disrespectful. Life is about intelligence, not believing nonsense. Truth is knowledge.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this post! And thank you for discussing the fight, flight or freeze stress response and it’s role in discipleship! Our adoption training from Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development first introduced this to us. It makes a world of difference in connecting first in the midst of grief/anxiety and ‘talking/teaching/discipling’ later when whole brain discussions can occur! Especially for children who have experience trauma! THANK YOU! THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Are you a TCU girl too?! Go Frogs!!!
I’m not a TCU girl in the traditional sense. 🙂 I’m not even sure the Institute of Child Development existed when I started college 25 years ago, at least not as we know it now. My husband and I have yearly parent trainings in TBRI and our children’s occupational therapist flew out to TCU for a few weeks to be professionally trained in TBRI to help with our son and continually train our family. Dr. Karyn Purvis’s work has blessed our family and community significantly. Her death was a deep loss and we will be forever grateful for her work and contribution to the adoption/trauma community!
That said, I believe you mentioned you are in the Biola Apologetics community, while on hiatus at present, I do have two years of the Masters in Apologetics under my belt. 🙂 I’m embarrassed to say I do not know Biola’s mascot, so: “Go Apologetics!” Ha!
Thanks again for mentioning multiple aspects of trauma! 🙂
With God being so very evil and rotten altogether since he really wants us to suffer, especially so many millions and millions of us innocent good people for no reason at all. What did we do wrong anyway? I Many of us never asked to be born in the first place to begin with either. It is just too bad that we don’t have a real God in this world, otherwise this wouldn’t be happening today at all.
Why do people automatically assume God has anything to do with it. That in and of itself makes no sense, not to mention is very confusing. On one hand, God is all powerful and all loving. On the other, God chooses who he blesses and what he allows. How does he pick and choose? What’s the criteria for blessing some people and allowing evil happen to others? Maybe God is mad that everyone has been ignoring the real God. Why is God’s original words in the real bible being ignored? Who gave anyone permission to change God and his bible? Are Christians so ashamed of God that they think it’s okay to thumb their nose at him and the old testament? God never gave his permission for a new version. He wouldn’t have wrote the original if he didn’t mean it. Tell the kids the truth about God. Stop lying about God. Stop disrespecting and disobeying God. Stop hiding God.
God let’s these things happen because God is the God of the Old Testament. The New Testament isn’t God. It’s a fake phony version made by people who don’t like or approve of the real God. So they think it’s okay with God to just ignore him and change everything he wants and says in the original bible. And God is supposed to be what…. happy about that? Happy that people are choosing to ignore and throw God away in exchange for a God they like they better? That’s not respecting God. That’s not living for God, that’s doing whatever you want and living for yourself. Preaching your word. There’s no justification for that. That’s why people don’t like religion. Because it’s fake, phony and hypocritical. Clearly God doesn’t matter if he’s just a tool that can be used by people to get and say what they want.
Lying to kids and teaching fake things isn’t going to help. It’s going to piss them off when they find out everyone they trust has been lying & disrespecting God.
Since God is suppose to have the power which he then should use whatever brain he has to stop all of this madness today.