I can’t remember exactly when, but somewhere in middle school or high school being innocent was no longer a “cool” thing. And not just at school, but also at church. As the buzzword of authenticity became a more popular goal for churches, the value of innocence continued to go down.
By the time I entered college, innocence was a bit of a social death sentence. People either want to take advantage of you or make fun of you.
Most people today walk around wearing their “lack of innocence badge” with immense pride. They’ve lived real life and they’re better for it. After all, what would life be if we lived with a bunch of regrets?
I am not a parent, but I know many who are and I sense there are two main camps when it comes to parenting. 1) Protect your child at all costs from experiencing horrific life events. In other words, help keep the child at least somewhat innocent. 2) Love and care for the child but don’t shield the world away from them. Nothing is off limits. In other words, losing innocence will help them mature more quickly.
I don’t see anything terribly wrong with either camp. In the end, how we view parenting is likely how we view our own lives. We either embrace the brutal nature of living in our culture today or we try to protect ourselves in strategic ways.
But I wonder if we haven’t considered the repercussions of our loss of innocence enough. By losing it, we are clearly giving something up. But what is it? I’ll take a stab at the answer…
The innocence lost through life begins to spill over in how we relate with God and we begin to approach God with an agenda and an expectation that he will let us down.
Jesus talked many times about the importance of a childlike faith:
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15).
Children don’t have all the baggage most adults carry with them when it comes to relationships. They pray to God, with an expectant joy that he will answer.
Those of us with an innocence lost “know” that God rarely answers our prayers on our time.
Authenticity and life experience are important values to pursue, but I hope the goal never becomes to lose our innocence despite how popular doing so might be.