(Originally this was going to be a comment on this post. But then it got long and rambly, so I promoted it to full-blown blog post. Hooray!)
I’m not a scholar in Hebrew, nor do I play one on television. But, after talking with my father and consulting Strong’s, I’m not seeing the evidence for your contention that the word for “children” (bane) must mean “champions”. After all, this is the same word used in 2 Samuel 5:13b: “…and more sons and daughters were born to David.” (Emphasis is obviously mine.) In this context, bane wouldn’t mean “mighty men” or “champions”; it would simply mean “sons”. Now, Strong’s mentions an idiom that includes bane that means “soldiers”, so maybe I’m missing something. However, the only “mighty man” that I currently see in the passage refers to the father, not to the children.
Be that as it may, I believe that my point generally stands. To quote David Bayly, “The one great danger we should seek to preserve our children from […] is sin. But even here, the solution to sin is not mere avoidance of temptation. The solution ultimately must be victory over temptation. Which of us would think weâ€™ve successfully inoculated our children against the dangers of alcohol if weâ€™ve only kept them from seeing wine or tasting beer?” Our children were baptized into this war with us. They join us in warrior-worship before the Throne. They sit at the Table as kings and priests. Therefore, they also share our sufferings and persecutions as warriors on the battlefield. “There be no shelter here/The front line is everywhere”. And trying to protect our children from the rigors of the battlefield is actually a disservice both to the cause of Christ and to them.
Now, does this mean that we abandon our children to the battlefield? By no means! Rather, we stand by them and instruct them as they wage their battles. But I would say the same about interacting with any new disciple…or any old disciple, either. We all need help and guidance from each other as we struggle against the flesh, the world, and the devil. And, in particular, I would be derelict in my duty as a father to teach and instruct my children in the way that they should go. But this instruction is not just for some unspecified point in the future, when they will begin serving God. It is for how they are serving God now, as well as for the future.
A couple of months ago, my daughter ended up in a counseling situation. Another girl opened her heart to Arianna, telling her about some serious things that she was struggling with. Arianna did well: she prayed with this girl and comforted her, and later, she talked to Crystal about her conversation, seeking further guidance on what to do in the future. This is exactly what I would want for my daughter to do. However, she was only equipped to address the issues at hand because (in a sense) Crystal and I have not sheltered her from the world. Instead, we have showed her the world, piece by piece, in all its horror, while showing her the beauty of what Jesus is doing to overcome this world. As such, she was not shocked at this other girl’s revelations and was able to minister the Gospel to her.
So this is not a theoretical concern of mine.
I should also say that I’m not raising this out of a perverse pleasure in what this means. Knowing that my children are already warriors means that I have to equip them. Part of what this means is that I have to disabuse them of their naive, innocent notions about how the world works. I have to explain to them how their family is special because of Jesus; how the love that we have for each other (flawed and sinful though it be) is not the norm for most people; how many families are broken; how people hurt those who want to help them; how costly it is to love the lost. I have to explain the damage that sin causes to us and those around us, how wicked the human race really is, how there are so many different ways to victimize and abuse another person. And each time I do, I see a little bit of that shining childish innocence die. I feel awful, like I’m desecrating a rainbow or tearing the wings off a butterfly.
But I feel the same way about myself. There are days I look in the mirror and I see my eyes. They seem so old now, aged because of what they have seen. It hurts me deeply to know what I know. Indeed, as I grow in my Christian walk, I find myself adding to the list of things that I long for in heaven. One of them is that I will not have to know that which I now know.
But the one thing that a soldier cannot afford to have is illusions. I do not have the luxury of being shocked by the spiritual wickedness that surrounds me, and neither do my children. Too much is at stake, both for their own souls and for the progress of the Kingdom. And so we continue to move forward, reaching out as a family to the hurting and the lost, to those who will use and abandon us, to those who will break our hearts. And they stand at my side, and we do it together, looking in hope to the coming of the Lord Jesus when we will lay this burden down.