Monday, March 19, 2007

The Value of a Sparrow

"What was that about?" my six-and-a-half-year-old daughter asked.

"Shhh. Let me hear the news," I answered, hoping she would forget.

She didn't. They don't forget the things you wish they would.

After the news ended, she said, "What was that story about the boy?"

I told her that a little boy had been kidnapped and killed by bad men. Neighbors had found his body.

A week or two ago she questioned me about a news story in which a man flew his plane with his eight-year-old daughter in it into his ex-mother-in-law's house in revenge on his ex-wife. These stories about the murders of children are too common.

I try to think back to what my mother told us about similar stories, but I can't remember hearing any. In our little town even a break-in was big bad news. Most people went to bed with their doors unlocked. Children left to play in the neighborhood after breakfast and returned for lunch and supper. If my brother or I got into trouble, my mother knew before we even reached home or definitely within twenty-four hours.

What has happened?

We could credit it to many things: the breakdown of the family, the breakdown of the community, rejection of Judeo/Christian values, the fact that most children no longer learn religious values weekly in a church or synagogue, the absence of mothers in the home during the day, and the increase of pornography.

But we shouldn't leave out the devaluing of life caused by Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion declared the unborn child was not a person under the law. It allowed him or her to be disposed of like a piece of trash. It took away the influence of the child's father in deciding whether that unborn child survives or dies.

Those legal precedents had enormous social consequences. Suddenly the father was less of a father than a sperm donor. The child became a financial burden to the man if he didn't have a commitment to the mother. He had to support the kid without being involved in the decision of whether the child lived or died.

Now many men no longer receive pressure by the community to marry the mother and form a family. They no longer have to grow up, become responsible, and do the right thing. Hence we find many men who are still children at 30, leeching off whichever woman will support them and her offspring.

Because these men no longer have a commitment to their children with the woman whom they made them, many of them felt no real bond with the children they lived with. Instead, in some cases, access to the kids became part of the bargain to keep the man in the home.

As for the children themselves, if they could be disposed of so easily before birth, how precious are they really? They become tools for pleasure, tools for profit with pornography or prostitution, tools for revenge or control.

Child abuse has increased with this devaluation.

Our attitudes toward children have changed in the past forty years. With that change, we changed our actions, but God's attitudes have not changed. He says that "the very hairs of your head are numbered." He says that those who harm one of these little ones would be better off if they had a millstone tied around their necks and were tossed into the river. He sees them as his reward to parents, as examples of His image, as teachers of how to enter heaven.

Christ says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

When the toddler is fussy, the teenager is arguing, or the baby isn't planned, it's easy to forget how much God loves each one of them. We need to step back and see them through His eyes, to see their potential, their uniqueness, and their value to God. He cherishes them.

And so should we.

Debbie W. Wilson

Debbie W. Wilson is a human rights advocate, speaker, and author of Christy Award-winning thriller Tiger in the Shadows. Her weekly prayer list for the persecuted church can be found on the home page of Bound Together Ministries.

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