Help Your Children Grapple with the Fact that We're Sinners

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After some heinous atrocity against humanity, those who knew the perpetrator often say something like, "He was such a nice man!" It does not matter if it was violent, sexual, criminal, or dishonest, we seem to expect the "bad guys" to wear black hats and sport tell-tale mustaches. When a teacher, pastor, neighbor, friend, or relative commits a wrong, it clashes with our tendency to put people in the category of either "good" or "bad."

Bad Guy

Take the famous example of the guy who raped a girl, had her husband knocked off to try to cover it up, and only owned up to it after he was caught. What's more, king David got to keep his leadership position! Crazy, right? David was a man who wanted to follow God and who did some absolutely terrible things.

I don't know about you, but I'm still a sinner too. I need to ask for forgiveness from my family now and then because I do something I shouldn't. I still commit plenty of "victimless" crimes on a regular basis, like speaking my mind to bad a driver when the roads are icy. I believe my heart is largely in the right place (longing to be transformed by the Holy Spirit), but I'm only clean because of Christ's shed blood. I am a complex person. And while most of my motivations and actions can be broken into categories of right and wrong, you'd be wrong to label me as a purely "good" guy.

Long before series like Game of Thrones swept through popular culture, I had already encountered complex characters. I had already seen how good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. We see this frequently in the Bible. I also witnessed it again and again in the literature that I experienced through Sonlight. In fact, complex characters is one of the seven things that make Sonlight books All Stars.

Complex characters give us opportunities to help our children grapple with the fact that the world is full of sinners. Some of us are seeking to follow Christ, some are doing our own thing. Sometimes we make good choices, sometimes not. We all need redemption, and it is so cool when we get to let the love and grace of God spill out of our lives into the lives of those around us. And I believe great literature and modeling forgiveness for our children are both great ways to help them separate the action (both good and bad) from the person.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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