"Bang, bang, you're dead." It's only a kids game, right? Wrong! Studies show that toy gun play is closely associated with violence and hurting others. Playing with toy guns prompts aggression and antisocial behavior, which may include kicking, fist fighting, pushing and shoving, damaging property and threatening to hurt someone. Let me illustrate the point with two newspaper headlines from our news files. "Toy Gun Turns Out to Be Real as Boy, 13, Kills Friend, 12." The victim was shot while the two boys were at the home of a third youngster playing cards. Thinking the weapon was a cap pistol the youth playfully pointed it at his friend across the room and it discharged. "Tot Kills Father." A 3-year-old boy "hunting" with a loaded shotgun fatally wounded his father. We often read of similar accounts in our papers; all have tragic endings. We live in a violent age. Even in our entertainment, some television and movie actors popularity is primarily built on their portrayal of violent characters. The most successful films are the ones with a lot of "action." A friend of mine here in Pasadena, Glenn Nice, became concerned about media violence when his first-grade son came home telling about another child bringing in his new toy for show and tell. The toy was a replica of a medieval war machine. The child was the son of a member of God's Church. My friend was so concerned that he gave a sermonette about allowing our children to play with war toys. This column is based on his sermonette. The toy cowboy-and-Indian guns and bows and arrows of the '50s and '60s have given way to the light sabers and laser guns of today. Some parents — and toy manufacturers believe that the science fiction war toys, the space guns that light up or make noises, are acceptable even if traditional toy guns are not. But authorities disagree. Researchers contend that there's "no difference between kids pretend killing with stun guns, phasers, zappers and weapons that have lights and make funny noises, and kids pretend killing with other toy guns — except that they probably see it as a better way to kill, it's more futuristic — superior to your ordinary Western gun." As one researcher put it: "Parents probably think that it's fantastic and less harmful. But the same argument was made about violence in cartoons. Kids just don't make those distinctions." Without realizing it, parents are actively training their small children to be the soldiers of the future. By allowing their children to play With such toys, Americans are supporting the war effort in a big way.
Age of violence
Christ said that the end time would be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). One of the descriptions of those days is "the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11). This was just one of the aspects of the wickedness of man that caused God to destroy that society. But we in God's Church are supposed to be living a different way — a way that leads to peace, happiness and every good thing. Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has taught us that we are the Kingdom of God in embryo. We should be living a way of life that is an example of what God's Kingdom is like. Each succeeding generation under the government of God and His Church should be better than the one before it, because a better foundation should have been laid. Our children are sanctified. They have a better starting pi than many of us did. We should be able to help our children avoid the pitfalls that caused us so much grief in the past by teaching them a better way. In the Millennium swords will be turned into plowshares. If a remnant of war is found in a field, it will be formed into a useful instrument. A father then would use this opportunity to describe to his children the time when men fought and killed each other. He would explain how Christ returned to change that way of life so people could live in peace with each other. Then, he would involve his children in turning the rusty rifle barrel or other "sword" of destruction into a useful tool. Mr. Armstrong has a watch made from a cannonball given to him by King Leopold in recognition of Mr. Armstrong's efforts toward peace. It's during the Millennium that "All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children" (Isaiah 54:13, Revised Authorized Version). My friend concluded his exhortation to control what we allow our children to watch and play with by quoting, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another" (Romans 14:19, RAV).
Age of peace
In this peaceful time to come, can you imagine that the father who taught his children about the former use of the weapons would allow his children to play pretend games with them? No, I don't think so. Yet some of us are allowing our children to look upon replicas of weapons of war as fascinating toys. If you don't have small children or grandchildren, you may not have been in a toy store lately. It's quite an experience. Especially if you check out the toys for boys. It's amazing how many toys are related to either violent television shows, including cartoons, or to some facet of war. I hate to say it, but I've seen play battles going on during Sabbath services between children using toys that portray strange warlike creatures and soldiers, while parents are seemingly oblivious to it all, calmly taking notes and listening to the sermon. I've seen other children coloring violent scenes in coloring books or reading stories about their favorite violent cartoon characters. No, these things are not real. They're toys. But the toys of today are the tools of tomorrow. Think about what you're doing when you purchase toys for your children. What are you teaching them? It has been proved that children who aren't given toy guns to play with are more likely to outgrow fantasy gun play at an earlier age. If children don't have the chance to play with guns, there won't be as much pleasure associated with gun play. Such children will then find some other activity that is more rewarding. But parent must be involved in the instruction and activity. My boys were taught as they grew up that guns are not toys. I explained to them that when they were old enough I would teach them the proper and safe use of guns. Later, when they were in their teens, their grandfather could take them hunting with him, knowing they knew how to responsibly use the rifles they carried. Remember, brethren, by allowing our children to play with the toys of today's violent world, we are not teaching the way of peace, we're teaching war. We must be living and teaching the way of life that is an example of what God's Kingdom is like. "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:18, RAV).