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Christianity's Commitments to Nurturing and Protecting Children: Biblical Foundations: Children Are Neighbors Worthy of Love and Respect

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2014 Pages: 576-584
Marcia J. Bunge
Date Published
April 2014
9 pages
One of six articles in this issue on the beliefs and values of religion in the care and protection of children, this article addresses Christianity's biblical foundations for nurturing and protecting children.
As in Judaism, Christianity views all humans as made in the image of God, as referenced in the biblical book of Genesis, which both religions view as an authoritative text. Under the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, attention is given to children as vulnerable, needing protection and constructive guidance. In one passage, Jesus compares all of his followers to children. When his disciples attempted to prevent a child from bothering him, he said "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." (Matthew 18: 2-5). This emphasizes to adults the importance of becoming like a child in his/her eagerness to learn and experience change, moving toward becoming a loving adult who serves others. Jesus also challenged adults to become role models and facilitators of children's positive development. The Bible and the diverse forms of Christianity around the world encourage Christians to nurture and protect children. Christianity also recognizes, however, that both children and adults will often fail to act lovingly and responsibly toward others; therefore, it focuses on the importance of forgiveness, renewed commitment to positive change, and patience with oneself and others, including children, in circumstances of failure and misconduct. This implies a prohibition against abusive punishment and the rejection of children with problem behaviors. 5 references