Almost every Friday afternoon our living room is full of boys playing the video game “Halo Reach”. In this game they have the option of going on campaigns to destroy the violent invading aliens, or they can choose to play a game where they each take a controller and try to kill each other. Guess which one they choose. If you guessed the option to kill one another, you are correct. I would guess that anyone who has boys would have guessed the latter. There is something about boys and violence that often, if not always, goes hand in hand. And I think one of our jobs as parents is to direct this violence to the good. While the instinct may be to say “No” to violent games and give the commendation to”Be Gentle” or “Be Nice” (gentleness is a fruit of the spirit), maybe instead we should redirect and say “Be strong for the weak” or “Be courageous for God” or “Protect” or “Do courageous things for the gospel”.
In the magazine “First Things” the article “Killer Instinct” takes on the natural tendency toward destruction in many boys. I identified with the author as I thought about how recently Peter had some homemade fireworks explode in his fingers as he was using a toothpick to try and extract the “gunpowder” from the red caps that produce the loud “POP” in cap guns. He needed it so he could load the powder into his aluminum foil firework. All he ended up with were blistered fingers and bruised pride. Peter likes to make explosives. I think it is the spark, the creativity, the noise, and just the curiosity to see what will happen. As I looked at his fingers I had to resist the impulse to prohibit his violent activity completely while indulging the good instinct to warn him to be careful with explosives. And I came upon this author and thought it was worth sharing. The following is a quote that gets to the gist of the article, but click the link above for more.
What I think I have come to understand about boys is that a desire to commit violence is not the same thing as a desire to commit evil. It’s a mistake for parents to presume that a fascination with the idea of blowing something away is, in itself, a disgusting habit, like nose-picking, that can and should be eradicated. The problem is not that the boy’s hand itches for a sword. The problem lies in not telling him what they are for, that they are for something—the sword and the itch alike. If I had told my aggressive little son not, “Be gentle,” but, rather, “Protect your sister,” I might, I think, have had the right end of the stick.