How many of you Christian kids recall belting out the notes of “Onward Christian Soldiers” while marching in time to the organist at Vacation Bible School? Little did you realize that rallying hymn denoted your enlistment into spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare…and children?
For an extremist view of Christianity’s childhood brainwashing, I recommend a viewing of the documentary, Jesus Camp. (No, I am not affiliated with the church or denomination in that movie.) Still, I felt a searing stream of similar memories as I watched children doggedly armed to fight Satan and his demonic hordes. The tears rippling down their innocent cheeks while the ranting evangelist reinforced terror of the supernatural. 7-year-old kids wailing on the floor before an invisible vengeful god. One skeptical boy confesses to the crowd that he doubts God’s existence, and a collective gasp of astonishment precedes palpable silence. Was this film a dramatization of a cultic offshoot of Christianity? Unfortunately, no.
Those who are not reared in such an environment cannot fathom that demons are considered real beings, not just a figure of speech referring to temptations. Those spirits physically roam the earth with the devil, though unseen by (most) human eyes.
1 Peter 5:8 (KJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
That biblical verse is not a figurative image, but an accurate depiction of Lucifer and his dark angels. Purported as truth, that verse instills terror into the bravest of childlike (and grown-up) hearts.
Throughout my youth, I cowered in my bedroom after my parents bound the demons and prayed a shield of spiritual protection over me for “peace in sleep.” It was a spooky ritual, to be sure. My dad would touch my forehead and quote some verses along with his anti-demonic mantra. If I was not yet asleep, I would pull the covers over my head, so he could not touch my forehead. After the prayer, I envisioned invisible animalistic beings drilling holes into my gray matter.
What possible evil deeds could I be contemplating that the demons sought control of me, a bug-eyed, introverted 5th grader? Had I not yet realized I was being honed as a sharp arrow to accost the forces of imminent evil?