I recently walked with my daughter down the aisle of a discount store toy department – the toys that are available now for young ones like my seven-year-old little girl are appalling.
Either they are downright scary looking, or the dolls have so much makeup on them in short, short dresses that I wonder what message is being sent.
One may say – they’re just toys. There’s no message.
Listen, friend – there’s a message in everything. That’s called marketing. You just have to do a search online about hidden messages in children’s toys to be thoroughly creeped out. They are even reports about subliminal and even outright messages on children’s toys promoting suicide, Islam, gender fluidity, homosexuality, and other messages satan has created to lure children (and adults) away from Christ and to hell.
As Christian parents, we need to remember that our homes are our first mission field. Matthew 19:14 states, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” If it was important to Jesus for children to know Him, then it should be important to us that nothing – not even toys – hinder that.
So how can we ensure that the toys we allow our children to play with are acceptable?
First off, there is nothing wrong with the old-fashioned method of going outside. If you can, build a tree house or a playhouse. Put weather-resistant décor on it and allow the kids’ imaginations to run with it. So many toys today require batteries; so few are powered by imaginations. Many toys have their own script of how the child is to play with it.
I have a young nephew who loves garbage trucks. He thinks they’re fascinating. What’s not to like, in the mind of a five-year-old? The arm comes down, picks up the garbage can, swings up, and dumps out all the trash. Bang bang bang, the arm shakes the can to make sure everything is out, then it puts it back on the ground. That’s good entertainment right there.
Last Christmas I looked all over the place for a red garbage truck. That’s what he wanted. He had a couple other garbage trucks that were blue or green, and even a recycling truck, but he wanted one in red. Do you know how hard it is, in this environmentally-conscious society where everything has to be green to find a red garbage truck? I found one, finally – but it didn’t take batteries or anything. He zooms that thing around all the time, powered by Rylan.
God gave us imaginations to dream the impossible. He gave us the intelligence to make those dreams realities.
Toys can also be used to encourage children in the walk of faith in Jesus Christ. They can illustrate, via play with a child’s parents, the stories of the Bible.
When my daughter Laura was just a toddler, she was given a Noah’s Ark playset. She and I, or her Daddy, would play with her with it together. Noah cleaned out the animal stalls while the lion stood guard on deck. Giraffes would stick their necks out the windows. She’d line up all the animals and have Noah take roll as each animal came on board. It was great fun – for her and us. We got to see her imagination just run with the thought of all these animals on this boat.
Then, that night, we opened her storybook Bible to the story of Noah’s Ark. The look on her face! Suddenly, it wasn’t a toy anymore, but a way to share the Word of God with our child.
Click here for a list of toys to build kids' faith
I have a Nativity set that’s been in my family for years. Growing up, I rearranged the plastic figures and now, at Christmas, my daughter does the same thing. The shepherds go on the left this week; the Wise Men can come up from the south today – they took a detour. Now that Laura’s a little older, though, she takes great care with the Nativity. She will line up the figures and have them talk with one another about what’s going on. She’s even had a Wise Man change the Baby Jesus’ diaper before! Her imagination is incredible.
Like the Noah’s Ark, though, it has a lot to do with my husband and I talking with her about each of the figures, finding the correlating Bible story, and teaching her.
If we don’t actively teach our children about faith in our Lord, the world will teach them about who He is not – or about things that are so contrary to the Christian faith that their belief system will be a continuous uphill climb.
Listen: satan has put scales on people’s eyes, even when it comes to the innocent among us – our children. Those scales make us blind to what he is actually doing – and that is substituting faith in Jesus Christ, the only One who gives real Hope and Salvation, for things that doom people to hell. It’s to the point now that even people who grew up in the church cannot articulate what they believe.
Listen to what the Word of God says in this incredible verse from 2 Corinthians 4:4. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
When one is blind, you can only see darkness. Intentionally, satan has used kids’ toys, movies, television shows, books, and games to blind children – and because they’re “just kids’ stuff,” we let it happen.
Do we want our children to be able to see the Light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ? Do we want our kids to be able to look at a rainbow after a summer rain shower and think of God’s promise, or something else?
Let the children be children. Let them play. Let them go outside and climb a tree. Take them to the playground, leaving your smartphone in your pocket. Play with them. Read to them.
1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Parents, we need to be the ones, when it comes to our kids, to be alert when it comes to the things we allow in our homes. Tenacious, satan will not give up. We have to suit up in the Armor of God and not give up either.
They’re not just toys. They’re part of the battlefield for your child’s soul. Yes, that sounds awfully melodramatic. But, if you think I’m kidding, please take a look at these videos:
When the Disney/Pixar movie “Toy Story 3” came out, there was an article published on CNN (that originally ran on a website called ‘The Frisky’) with the headline “Sexism and stereotypes in 'Toy Story 3?'”
In the article, the author Kelli Bender mentions a Ms. Magazine writer, Natalie Wilson, who had issues with the movie, claiming it was sexist and other things. Bender quotes the Ms. Magazine article: “She writes that the mother in the movie is depicted as ‘nagging,’ while Barbie is shown as ‘over emotional’ and ‘hyper-feminine.’ Her packaged partner in crime, Ken, is painted as a ‘closeted gay fashionista’ who is constantly teased. Wilson worries that depictions like this will teach children, especially boys, that being female or homosexual is wrong -- or at least something to laugh at.”
“Toy Story 3” aside for a moment, let’s concentrate on what the Ms. Magazine writer Natalie Wilson said about it: “Depictions like this will teach children, especially boys, that being female or homosexual is wrong....” Did you get that? A mainstream, liberal magazine asserts that a movie (which does have its share of questionable things, yes) will teach children that homosexuality is wrong.
If we, as Christian parents, don’t teach our children about God and what is right in His eyes, the world will teach them about what is not right in His eyes.
It’s not child’s play anymore.
© 2017 Terrie McKee
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