Children and Spiritual Things

Dear Reader,

Christianity is full of mysteries. Not mysteries as in puzzles to be figured out or secret information, but things that our human minds struggle to comprehend. The most basic tenets of Christianity fall into this category, like the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. These are hard for us to get our adult minds around. And so we certainly do not expect our children to ponder great theological truths. Indeed the realm of theology is one we frequently dumb down for children. Their religious education becomes nothing more than an endless series of the same Bible stories, memory verses without context, and inane crafts (can you tell I have opinions on this?).

But in some ways, children are more able to comprehend the things of God than we are. They have not learned skepticism and that scientific mindset which makes us question every  improbable event. Charlotte Mason says:

“Our own grasp of the things of the Spirit is all too lax, and how can we expect that the child’s feeble intelligence can apprehend the highest mysteries of our being? But here we are altogether wrong. It is with the advance of years that a materialistic temper settles upon us. But the children live in the light of the morning-land. The spirit-world has no mysteries for them . . . ”

[Parents and Children, p. 31]

Children do need education and guidance. I am under no illusions that our little ones are perfect. But in many ways they are also better off than their elders. Their consciences still need training; but they have not yet been corrupted and twisted. They naturally accept the miracles and mysteries of faith. I think we do them a disservice by holding off on the larger theological truths till we think they are ready. Better to introduce these things early on when they are willing to take them in so that they may become part of their beings in their early years. The struggles we grown-ups have come often from a youth spent on the things of this world. It is no wonder then as we grow that we cannot turn back to the spiritual things. We have not been prepared for them.

This is part of the reason why I do not mind fantastical and improbable books for my children. They have a natural love for these things. The books may not be inherently Christian, but they present a world where the improbable happens. Our God is not only a God of the improbable but the impossible.  “Fairy stories”, as Miss Mason would call them, prepare children for a world in which anything can happen. Again Charlotte says,

“[Children’s] keen sensitiveness to spiritual influences is not due to ignorance on the part of the children. It is we, not they, who are in error.”  [p.32]


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