Beginning Discussion About Injustice With Our Children

By Rebecca Logan, Retired UPMC Chaplain, Member of Lycoming Valley Baptist Church

All of any nation’s history is unjust because of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, they set off a chain reaction to all of humanity that will never be finally resolved until eternity. Animosity, hatred, and taking advantage of others started as early as the first sibling. Cain deliberately went against what God said, and in his jealousy, possibly embarrassment, killed his own flesh-and-blood brother. That was complete injustice; his brother had done nothing wrong but was killed. Vengefulness, anger, and jealousy has consumed humankind since.

Injustice reappears in another family later in Genesis. We see Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery. The theme of bondage, slavery, and freedom is woven throughout Scripture. Many lessons can be learned from it. Why did people do that to others? What were their motivations? Where was God in all of this?

Discussions about slavery and injustice begin in Scripture. God’s own chosen people were slaves in Egypt. We know the Egyptians needed work done, saw the Israelites as free labor, and thus took advantage of them. Yet, God had love and mercy and delivered them. At the same time, even the Egyptians were invited to join the Israelites in belief in the true God.

Judges is about injustice to God’s people, but prejudice from one tribe to another is scattered throughout the Hebrew Bible. Then, of course, Israel was overrun, and many were taken as slaves to Babylon. When Christ was born, the Israelites were under bondage to the Romans. The comparison of even “the slave woman and the free” is in Galatians 4:21-31. And salvation is being taken out of the slavery of sin. Christ repeatedly stressed in the New Testament: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV). The temple leaders were so offended to be called slaves to sin that they wanted to stone Christ then and there.

Even in Bible lessons, our children and grandchildren see and understand that injustice and wrong happens. Then the questions can be asked and answered. How did Esther respond when taken against her will to the palace? How did Daniel and his friends respond when taken in captivity? Where was God? What was He doing in this? Why did the Lord allow this? When looking at all of biblical history, what lessons do you learn from these painful experiences? (For example, Psalm 56:8 tells us that God “keeps all our tears in a bottle.”

The Bible is an excellent backdrop for all of this and a natural way to engage our children and grandchildren with the bigger questions about life. Were these things that happened right? Obviously not. Was God still there? Obviously, we know yes. Why did He allow this?

Then from the biblical backdrop, we move into any country’s history. Slavery has been practiced all over the world. Why? What are the parallels between that and what the Bible says? Does God forgive sin individually and nationally? How does God still work in these hard cases? Who are some of the amazing people who God used throughout history? What about reading their biographies?

Stressing the parallels between physical and spiritual slavery to sin helps our children and grandchildren understand the Bible’s ultimate theme: redemption and deliverance from sin. Our responsibility is to help our children and grandchildren to see how the Lord works in injustice, through injustice, and despite injustice. And that, ultimately, He as the final judge guarantees that all injustice and sin is forever dealt with!