I usually try to stay away from commenting on political matters. While I have a personal interest in government and current events, I've learned it's usually best to keep my opinions to myself. Yet, when political tactics infringe on morality and our children, my mouth pops open! Bear with me this week as I comment on something that deeply concerns me.
Nothing stirs our society more than when we witness the exploitation of children. It’s said that the person lowest on the prison pecking order is the child molester. Recent laws like Jessica’s Law and recent stories such as the man who murdered a family and molested a ten year old girl in Idaho create an instant media firestorm. Most of us would find internet child pornography utterly repulsive because it uses the innocence and vulnerability of children for selfish pleasure.
Yet, I believe another exploitation of children is occurring within our country with little reaction. There are those who would use the needs of our children to persuade us to do things that will not necessarily benefit our children, but those who are trying to persuade us. I’m talking about the marketing and advertising industry. Marketers use all kinds of tactics to persuade us to buy their product, vote for their candidate or support their cause. They appeal not only to our sense of reason, but also to our emotions. Marketers well know that children are a sure-fire emotional tug.
A current example of this is the ad campaign for Ohio’s Issue 3, the constitutional amendment that would allow gambling at racetracks and establish several casinos within the state of Ohio. The ads don’t immediately tell you, “Vote for casinos.” Those promoting this bill would know most people would immediately dismiss it. No, instead, they pull on our heartstrings. They call it the “Learn and Earn” program. Don’t we want every child to have a chance at higher education? We can do this without raising taxes. Vote for Issue 3!
I don't think I could live with my conscience if I knew the money my child received from a scholarship came from the pockets of a gambling addict who used money his or her children needed for food, clothes and a roof over their head. I coulnd't stand the fact that a father or mother somewhere was teaching their child by example to give into the horrendous lie that gambling is an easy solution to financial need. Issue 3 may provide some money for education. But if passed, it will teach our children to rely on money reclaimed from addicted, vulnerable and ignorant people who don’t see the harm they are doing to themselves and their families. It will teach our children to be greedy, garnering money they need the easy way instead of having to work for what they get.
However, this blog post is not about gambling. . It’s about our society’s tendency to exploit children in the name of persuasion. Jesus said in Matthew 18:6, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hang around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” When we use our children as a persuasive tactic, we are teaching them it’s acceptable to maneuver others for our selfish agenda. That’s morally unacceptable.
So the next time you feel a tug on your heart about children, sound your internal alarm system. Ask if your acquiescence help and protect the children in your life? Or will it line the pockets or advance the future of the promoter? Then look at the stated need. Ask yourself, what would be God’s best way to meet this need in our children’s lives? The exercise of honestly evaluating our children’s needs will help all of us do what is right and best for our children.