I had a discussion with a pastor recently about the weight of culture pressing down upon our kids. At every turn it seems they are being led to values, lifestyles, and decisions in direct contrast to what parents want for their children. “We must do a better job at equipping our kids for the fight that they are already in,” my pastor-friend said. “Staying neutral is not an option.”
This pastor likened his point to “The Patriot” movie starring Mel Gibson. With a storyline set during the American Revolution, Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, is a plantation owner and a member of South Carolina’s Continental Congress delegation.
War is brewing in “The Patriot,” and South Carolina’s leadership is debating whether to urge the Continental Congress to declare war on Great Britain. Martin, a veteran of the French and Indian War, is still jaded from his time in battle. As a widower raising seven children, he’s determined to stay neutral and keep his sons from joining the fight.
At this stage in the narrative, Martin is a man with a proven record of willingness to fight. But he determines to stay neutral and take no stand one way or the other, believing that doing so will keep his children safer. Over his protestations, Martin’s oldest son leaves home and joins the Continental Army, while his next son begs to do the same.
A pivotal moment in the movie comes when Martin’s children can hear the sounds of battle not far from their home, and the flash of cannon fire is seen in the waning light of day. It is scary, but the fight is still “out there” … until it suddenly isn’t. Martin’s oldest son stumbles into the house bleeding from a wound he suffered in the battle just over the horizon from his own home. By morning, the front porch is covered in wounded soldiers, British and American.
When British Dragoons arrive, they kill Martin’s second-oldest son and lead his oldest son into captivity, torching Martin’s house and barn, leaving him and his remaining children to grieve in the ruins.
Suffice it to say, the war that was kept at bay by staying neutral came to Martin’s house anyway.
Here’s the first point of this amazing analogy. There is a war going on all around us. It is a culture war. A war for our values. Some would say it is a war for our very way of life. If you are a conservative, if you are a Christian, then you are a target of the most strident and avaricious liberalism ever allowed to gain a foothold in our country.
Truth be told, that war is targeting our kids, our homes, and our way of life. You may want to stay neutral and quiet. But sooner or later the sounds of the cannons in the distance will be on your front steps because the enemy doesn’t care a whit for your neutrality. They only want your surrender. If you won’t fight back and stand for what you believe, they will try to take your children anyway.
Later in the movie, Martin is discussing the state of things and the loss of his son with a woman who looks at him and says, “You have done nothing for which you should be ashamed.” Martin replies, “I have done nothing. And for that I am ashamed.” Though he intentionally did not take a stand, the war came anyway. Staying silent actually resulted in the loss of one child and the captivity of another.
My pastor-friend pointed out that what came next in the movie is key. With his house on fire, Martin comes to himself and runs into the burning house and up to the attic. Dragging out an old chest, he begins to retrieve his weapons of war, grabbing rifles, powder, and ball, then running back outside to his children.
His next move caused some modern liberal heads to explode: he armed two of his sons, reminding them what he had taught them about shooting. “Aim small, miss small,” he said. He then led his two sons to fight for the life of their older brother. His boys had been raised with key values and taught some skills. He armed them, he led them, and he took the stand that perhaps he should have taken all along.
My pastor-friend’s point was not an actual call to arms but an understanding that there is a fight going on, a cultural fight that demands we capitulate and move to the left. It is all around us, and some of you have likely already suffered some losses in that fight. But we cannot stay neutral.
We need to give children an example of an adult who cares enough to stand in the gap for them and to tell the world that they will not bring the fight to our homes because if they do, it will go badly for them.
Yes, “The Patriot” is a great movie. But it is perhaps more so an analogy for our times. Let’s not be that man or woman who feels shame later for having done nothing.
We need to equip our children to understand what is right and wrong with the tools of faith, character, confidence, love, assurance, and values. We need to teach them the culture war version of “aim small, miss small.”