Overcoming Our Culture of Death

I remember when I was a kid, I was watching the movie that came on after Garfield Goose.  It was a B movie called “Teenagers from Outer Space.” (OK, I didn’t know the name of it before the miracle of the Internet but it’s considered a prime example of a low budget 1950s sci-fi movie.)  I couldn’t have told you the name of it, but I could tell you that it gave me nightmares for years.  Aliens with death ray guns come to earth and shoot people whose flesh is zapped away and they immediately turn into plastic skeletons.  (No one said they were plastic and as a child, I was convinced they were real, especially the one at the bottom of the pool.  So convinced, that every night before bed, well into my teens, I’d double-check the closet and under the bed.  I developed an irrational fear of skeletons, fearing they might actually come back to life, even though in the movie, they were as dead as dead can be).

Why am I telling you this?

Well, tonight on our walk, my husband and I were looking at gruesome Halloween décor at home after home, and appalled, I asked him,

Do kids even get nightmares anymore?”

What an innocent time I lived in.  My kids too.  Their nightmares were about stuffed animals (presumed evil ones that would be banished from the room to the hallway) and the rat from Lady and the Tramp who was, for the record, never roaming about our home.

Don’t you find it interesting: Today’s kids go Trick-or-Treating in hand-selected, store-bought zombie costumes with blood and gore, accompanied by their parents who are afraid of what real life monsters might live as child predators in nearby homes with desirable candy?  Yet, when I was a kid, we dressed up like black cats and donned homemade ghost costumes made out of sheets.  We ran positively wild on Halloween, Trick-or-Treating parent-free until curfew.  Packs of kids supervising kids and our safety wasn’t a concern beyond double-checking our candy when we got home.

Not so today.  We let our children parade in death costumes, decorate our houses with death, we believe our safety is constant jeopardy, our children’s lives hang in reality’s balance, the evil we fear the most is the real evil of other people’s schemes, and all the while we pass off as entertainment, festivity, and fun what is actually rather morbid.

We have made death a caricature–both horrifying and humorous.

What message is this we are sending to the next generation?  How do we overcome today’s culture of death?  It’s everywhere from the nightly news to video games to abortion clinics to movies to our neighborhoods.  As parents, the best we can do is to teach our children the truth about death.

  • Death is bound to happen to all of us (barring special cases like Enoch and Elijah or unless Jesus returns during our lifetimes).
  • Death spells the end of Gospel opportunities for ones who rejected Jesus in the days of their lives.  It’s not funny or a little trick.  It’s not a nightmare you wake up from and realize the skeleton is plastic.  It’s not even temporary like tainted candy or an evil mind lurking behind a front door.
  • Death–the undeniable, lasting, and pervasive consequence of the Fall–ends everything for the person who doesn’t know Jesus.  Herein lies the very real danger that our culture of death minimizes.  We get lulled by seeing death everywhere to believing it’s no big deal.  But death is not just a big deal, it’s the biggest deal.  It’s the last event, marked on many an earthly tombstone with solemn finality.  The dash of life from cradle to grave is over and all that’s left is the grave for the person rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness.
  • Death, however, also signals the beginning of life after death for the person who acknowledges Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin and has received His forgiveness.
  • Death is the holding tank for unforgiven souls as they await final judgment.

destined to dieHebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

As Halloween draws near, let’s do our part as parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends to avoid minimizing or celebrating death and instead to make sure that we use these opportunities to teach the many blessings of the Christian life, including an eternal life.

This Gospel is Good News indeed: Jesus is risen from the grave–not as a zombie, but as our Risen Savior who conquered death, and every follower of His (throughout human history) shares in the dream of eternal life being our reality.

Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on October 30, 2013

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