With the recent death of Adam West (1960s Batman), our minds might go to many of the colorful super heroes of comic book lore. We might also think of those super villains as our memories are regaled with storylines, battles, and witty remarks that were made. Perhaps the “caped crusader’s” death thrust upon your mind how far these heroes and villains have come—or fallen—depending upon your take of the modernized versions of these characters in today’s comic books, movies, and television series. The super hero genre has appealed to most children, teens, and even adults. Bank balances have dwindled over the sale of comic books, movies, action figures, etc.
Super Heroes have been a part of American life for over eighty years. They are fictional characters; yet they have influenced our culture and the minds of our people for more than eight decades. Various forms of entertainment have peddled these repackaged false gods, genetically enhanced super-humans, occult users, and vengeful/avenging vigilantes who have pushed themselves to the peak of physical and intellectual prowess.
From the start of their comic book careers, these seemingly innocuous characters were bad in that they only helped to blur the line between the profane and the holy. They are pagan gods of long ago who now wear fancy (often immodest) costumes and are accompanied with cool gadgets. They are extraordinary men/women who are saviors of mankind. They are god-like “men” with god-like powers who receive the adoration and awe of men, women, and children. In short, it is a form of idol worship—a worship of false gods. A fascination with them will draw our hearts from the Lord Jesus Christ—He ALONE who is truly worthy of worship, adoration, and fear.
We are well warned in 1 John 2:16 against the “lust of the flesh”—look to the strength of these false gods—children imitating them in both violence and superpowers, people becoming discontent with simply being fashioned in the image of God, they now desire to be gods themselves. The “lust of the eyes”—look at their muscular, appealing physiques and their amazing feats—children desiring to dress like them, look like them, and wanting to be able to do what they can do. The “pride of life”—people look up to them with awe and a form of worship—“people would fear and worship me if I become like this god.” John warns us that these things are not of the Father but of the world. When Eve fell for the serpent’s lie, she saw that the fruit was good for food (lust of the flesh), it was pleasing to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and it would make one wise (the pride of life)—so she took and ate. Satan’s words were they “would be like gods”—we have not come so far from the Garden, have we?
Do any of these heroes get their power from the One true God? NO!
· Superman is a “savior” from the heavens. Many of these super heroes are just repacked pagan identities which the Bible warns against worshiping.
· Thor is an example of a false god—a god of thunder who was banished to earth by his father to learn humility, made to take on human form, and do good deeds. Sound familiar?
· Others have been genetically altered, making them still mere men but now more powerful and an “improvement” upon what God had done. False gods like Captain America, Spiderman, the Flash, and the Incredible Hulk. With “science fiction” daily becoming science fact, these are conversations—and warnings—that we need to have with our children.
· Some receive their special powers from wizardry, magical talismans, and special incantations: Shazam, Isis, Storm, He-man. What does the Bible say about magic? Do not neglect to speak the truth with your children about the reality and dangers of the supernatural. Point them to the power and truth of God.
· Others are regular men who have worked hard to heighten their senses, hone their physical and intellectual strength, and/or invented gadgetry to avenge the deaths of those they loved: Batman, Robin, Green Arrow. These are often vigilantes that work outside the justice system, becoming a law unto themselves. Pride runs deep in these heroes. What does the Bible say about pride? We must be ever-watchful against it.
Do these heroes handle things according to the authority and wisdom of Scripture? NO!
· They often handle things by the law of the land although there are many instances where they are a law unto themselves and decide for themselves if punishment is necessary.
· Often done outside the boundaries of the law—vigilantism, revenge, or avenging is often their motive.
Do they see their need of a Saviour or do they rely on their own power and that of their friends?The answer to that is obvious. As one author put it, “Basically, super heroes are anti-Christ, they never seek the Lord, pray, read the Bible, or go to church. No one ever gets saved (born again) in the comics or movies. Their universe is not Christian; they have non-Christian gods, non-Christian origins, and non-Christian powers.”
What are your children, grandchildren, or you watching? Who or what is winning their hearts and who are they being led to emulate? What are we doing to help them follow Solomon’s advice —the wisest man of all time? Wisdom to “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Do we impress upon them the importance to “…not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.” (Psalm 101:3 ESV)
What we watch impacts us greatly, even when we are unaware of its power over us.The younger a child is, the greater the grasp that images and story lines can have on their young impressionable minds. In other words, as a story character develops, it develops a child’s own character. Could this be why Deuteronomy chapter six so strongly encourages us to TRAIN our children in holiness—in God’s ways—all throughout their day? To TRAIN is to constantly teach and discipline someone into certain actions or lifestyles. Our children (and we ourselves) are constantly being trained by what is read, seen, allowed, and thought upon. The Bible exhorts us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)
David—later in Psalm 101—states, “I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.” (Psalm 101:6) We are to keep watching those who are faithful, not look to those who simply appeal to our physical senses. We are to set holy men, women, and children before us and follow their example as they follow Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17). As the writer of Hebrews exhorts us, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
Instead of “super heroes,” point your children to REAL heroes of the faith. Acquaint them with the real stories, action, and God-given power of Biblical heroes like Elijah, David, Abraham, Daniel, Samuel, the judges, and Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, to name a few. These were real and imperfect men, who had real problems, who looked to and trusted in the real God, for real solutions.
Introduce those in your sphere to real heroes of the Christian faith. Reformation Heritage Books offers many such opportunities through their Christian Biographies for Young Readers and their The Building on the Rock series. They also offer an intriguing book entitled Reformation Heroes: Second Edition with Study Guide. Author Douglas Bond brings fictional Christian characters and real historical settings together, drawing the reader in and working through questions about the Christian faith and how it applies to real life. (My favorite is the Crown and Covenant Series) YWAM Publishing (Youth With A Mission) offers a vast library of real Christian heroes and the work they did for Christ. Again, these were real and imperfect men (and women), who had real problems, who looked to and trusted in the real God, for real solutions.
The above is only a small sampling of what is out there for you and your children/grandchildren to enjoy. Foxes Book of Martyrs and Martyr’s Mirror are two old classics that tell the histories of real heroes as well.
As you go through these amazing Biblical histories and interesting biographies, train your children. Take these situations of old and apply them to the situations of today. In light of Scripture and following the example of those who have faithfully walked before us, “What should we do about______?” “How should President Trump react to ________?” The possibilities for training are endless.
Back to Batman…
Although he was neither the first nor the last Batman, Adam West is arguably the best known portrayer of this comic book “super” hero. As with all men, this Batman will now face his Judge and Creator. No super-will, super-strength, special gadget, witty words, or sidekick can help him now. He stands in judgment where no “BAM!” “POW!!” or “ZOWIE!!!” will do him any good. He stands alone to answer the question, “What have you done with Christ?” or perhaps more accurately, “What has Jesus done for you?” This will be the end of each and every one of us. Are we preparing ourselves, our children, and grandchildren for that day? Do NOT be fooled, what we watch matters; how we train our minds will affect today and eternity.
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