Has your child ever had something scary happen to them? Ours has, plenty of times! My child is allergic to an ingredient that could kill her if the reaction is violent enough. Early in her life, I discovered something in her food caused facial swelling, an immediate rash, and flaming red lips. If her fingers touched it, they too would instantly produce a rash. We weren’t immediately sure what it was but after thorough food journaling, the culprit was clear –red dye. Anything she ate with red dye in it, and it could be as small as one red m&m or a bite of her cousin’s Chef Boyardee, caused a reaction. Immediately, tiny red bumps covered her mouth, her face, and anywhere else the food touched. Her face swelled until even her eyelids shut.
Then my son was born, and he too could not consume anything with red dye. Of course, during his first year, he wasn’t exposed to red dye as his diet consisted mainly of breastmilk. But once he ate table food, his reactions were far more alarming than my daughter’s. His eyelids, neck, and glands swelled to the point I feared obstruction of his airways.
We became a family of label-readers, thoroughly checking the ingredients of each product we purchased. We soon realized the easiest way to avoid this allergen was to avoid prepackaged food. Our grocery trips consisted mainly of fresh produce, meats, and dairy. No more boxed cereals or snacks, which typically include red dye. What started as an inconvenience ended as a life-saving necessity and we learned to accept our new way of life.
We avoid red dye like the plague. We’d been warned that each reaction could prove worse than the previous one, causing even death if she had a constructed airway from swelling. You can imagine the terror I felt at the warning and the determination to never see her suffer from a bad food choice again.
Moms of children with allergies will understand this when I say I would do anything to protect them from this dangerous (to them) allergen. As parents, we are responsible for our children’s lives and conscientious to make healthy choices for them. As they’ve grown older, they’re aware of the dangers and now read labels for themselves to make sure their food is void of dye.
Do we, as parents, remove these toxic foods in hate or in love? In love, of course. We avoid them because we love our children and don’t want them harmed. We teach them from a young age what is safe and what’s harmful to consume, especially if they have known allergens.
Beyond Food Consumption
But do we stop there? Why is it ok to protect them from the dangerous food they consume but not protect their minds from the images they view?
There’s been a lot of hype regarding the remake of a popular children’s movie. The remarks ranged from outrage to indifference as each determined whether to take our children to see this movie. In fact, someone accused me of being a hateful hypocrite and refusing to love those who are different from me because I said we wouldn’t be seeing it now.
Here’s the deal. Just as I would protect my child from ingesting an ingredient that could potentially cause death, I would also protect her from a movie that compromises her integrity of mind. I know you would do the same for your child. We are each convicted differently but as a Christian, we all use the same tool by which to determine our decisions -the Bible.
So What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible warns us repeatedly to exercise caution regarding what we consume, whether it be food, television and movies, books, social media or more. This mindset of accepting the forced normalization of an unbiblical lifestyle is foolish and dangerous.
Paul warns us, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals'” (1 Cor. 15:33).
If we view evil entertainment, we are inclined to imitate the evil things we see. If we view sexual content, we are inclined to imitate the sexual behavior we see. If we view violence, we are inclined to imitate the violent behavior we see.
All of us should determine to flee from the deception of Satan, turning away from wickedness that corrupts good morals.
Perhaps this past week was a wake-up call to many parents who’ve been silently swept along with our culture? Maybe last week’s surprise was the reminder we needed to exercise caution and be mindful of what we see and hear. Maybe it was a wake-up call to be more vigilant about the world our children are growing up in. Because we are constantly surrounded by the world, it’s easy to become of the world.
However, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2)). Transformation usually requires some sort of sacrifice, the giving up of something. A total transformation by the renewing of your mind means giving up the world’s way of living.
It’s hard. There will be condemnation and personal attacks. You’ll be judged as close-minded, maybe a bigot. Don’t fall for the lie that you can’t stand out and refuse to conform without love. Loving others doesn’t mean accepting wrongs as right and conforming to the world.
Will the increasingly changing culture cause us to grow stronger in our beliefs or accept these changes as normal and become part of the change? Can we stand against these sins yet still love our neighbors?
We are all sinful, but if we are Christians, we’ve been bought and sanctified by Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). That doesn’t make us righteous but redeemed. Forgiven.
We can flee evil while still loving our neighbors and I’ll talk more about that next week. But I do urge you to be prayerful and vigilant over the things we view or the places we go or the things we say. It makes a difference in our children, our future, and our legacy.
For more on what God’s word says about what kind of lifestyle we should live and what enemy we are fighting, check out these verses: