“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – Peter 5:8
In the 1939 movie classic Wizard of Oz, Tin Man warned Dorothy, Scarecrow, of dangerous predators in the forest. They sang “lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!” while nervously skipping through the woods. The predator they met was the cowardly lion.
In days gone by parents in most countries warned their children of predatory animals in the wild. In some less developed countries they still do. Why would parents scare children with warnings of being eaten? Parents warned their children because the predatory animals would eat their children. It was an accepted fact. Today, in most countries, civilization has driven the wild areas well away from population groups. The chances of children actually being eaten by wild animals has diminished greatly in all but the most remote areas.
Yet parents should keep the old ways alive. Because predators do not all live in the wild. Lions, and tigers, and bears look like predators. They have claws and large sharp teeth and their appearance conveys a natural fear. However human child predators don’t seem so dangerous. Child sexual predators and child pornographers live among us. They can appear the normal man or woman who live next door.
The two news stories below illustrate they are near and far and may be the most unlikely suspects.
There is a difference between animal and human predators. Animal predators eat to live. Human predators live to destroy innocence. They have no remorse for their actions. Children are merely things to them. The most depraved of criminals target the most innocent of victims. It is a tactic that the devil has propagated for thousands of years and is becoming more prevalent every year. The apostle Peter was not warning early Christians of animal predators in the verse above. He warned of something far worse.
In my own town, a toddler was playing within eyesight of his father. An unknown man simply walked up to the child, picked him up, and started to carry him away. The man’s view of the father was blocked by a retaining wall. The father yelled at the predator who dropped the child and ran. The father remarked at how calm and nonchalant the perpetrator was until he interfered. This incident took less than a minute. Had the father not been there the child would have been gone just that quickly. I shudder to think of what might have happened to him.
This is not a danger that only happens to other people. It is a very real, very serious, threat to our children. Parents must take this seriously and act accordingly. If this scares any of you parents, I will not apologize. I have sadly seen the results of these predations when no one was there to help the child.
Lions, and tigers, and bears are merely doing what they were created to do. We should fear them to a degree. Humans were not created for this. We should hold a greater fear of their existence. We as parents and neighbors must have a greater diligence in defending the innocent from them.