dad and son talking

By Sylvia Cochran – Christian Parenting –

When George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, he claimed that fear for his life led to the fatal self defense act, which killed the teenager. After public pressure mounted on officials, they decided to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder. A jury found him not guilty. While these are the facts of the case, a public outcry shows that there is a lot more at play than a simple act of self defense.

As a Christian parent, you have a duty to deal with the issues that you might prefer not to tackle.

Racism. Did Zimmerman shoot Martin because the latter was African American? Since nobody can look into Zimmerman’s heart, it is impossible to answer this question. That said, racism is alive and well. Perpetrated by people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, you – as a parent – have the responsibility to end this practice with you and your child. There are plenty of Scriptures that warn early Christians to not fall into the trap of nationalism or racism. Examples include Romans 10:12, John 7:24 and Luke 10:29-37.

Authority. While I do not know if legally Zimmerman had any authority to follow Martin, he nevertheless represented himself as a neighborhood watch authority. Children must learn early on that it never pays to escalate encounters with authority figures. Romans 13:1 teaches that God himself has set up earthly authority structures. Teach your children to be respectful to police officers, teachers, elders and anyone else with a presumed authority.

Busybodies. Warn your kids away from being busybodies. Getting into someone else’s business does not usually have a good outcome. If Zimmerman had remained in his car rather than taking it upon himself to follow a young man down a dark lane, Martin might still be alive. The Bible warns in 1 Timothy 5:13 that idlers, busybodies and gossips are not what God looks for.

Stereotyping. Going hand in hand with racism, stereotyping digs still a bit deeper. Whether you think you know that hoodie-wearing youths are up to no good or that cop wannabes are trigger-happy, it is a good idea to dig down to your reasoning for these assumptions that you believe to be facts. You may be surprised to learn that in your heart of hearts, you are stereotyping as much as the folks you put down for their more overt expression of these thoughts.

Stereotyping is usually learned in the home. As a Christian parent, this may cause you immense discomfort and may have to lead to a re-thinking of your biases. Survey your church family, your circle of friends and the recreational activities you engage in. If you notice that each of these is heavily geared toward only one race, gender or socioeconomic group, you need to mix it up a bit.

Although the jury has spoken in the Zimmerman verdict, it is clear that the public sees a difference between a legal “not guilty” and a moral “innocent.” Of course, this is fodder for another conversation.

Sylvia Cochran

Sylvia is a seasoned freelance writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Christian Parenting Courses at Suite 101
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