Teaching Violent Bible Stories
Time for something serious.
I don’t do too many posts like this, but I hope this opens up some serious discussion in the comments, because controversy is what gets lots of comments in the blog world, and I am unlikely to write something truly controversial like…suggesting that we produce a VBS based on the Twilight series of books.
So we are in the middle of creating our next children’s ministry curriculum –Hillsong Kids Big: Supernatural. I have been writing scripts like a madman, and one of the weeks includes the story of Jericho. I send the scripts off for a little theology inspection (as usual) to one of our lecturers in our Bible College, Duncan Corby…it comes back pretty good, a few tweaks here and there, but I haven’t yet become a heretic. Yay.
But we start a discussion about something I hadn’t really expected. Here is the question:
Should we be teaching/telling our kids the ultra-violent stories found in the Old Testament?
When you get to the end of Joshua’s army walking around Jericho, the walls have fallen, they then proceed to kill every single man, woman, and child in the city and burn it to the ground. This is all apparently sanctioned and encouraged by God (rinse and repeat for many other OT stories).
Now he was really thinking out loud and not endorsing the idea, but I need to (even if for my own sake) investigate this idea.
Let me present two perspectives as precisely as I can, because I don’t want this to be an essay.
YES: We should be teaching the whole counsel of God, and we can teach these stories in an age appropriate way. As children grow in understanding, they can then begin to explore these issues further. We have to present the Bible as a narrative, the story of God dealing with his people over thousands of years so that our children grasp the big picture of faith. After all, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.
NO: Exposing our kids to these stories has aided in creating our violent culture. Where Christians quite happily support capital punishment and can justify war in a heartbeat. In much the same way that it is said that Jewish young men would not be allowed to read the Song of Songs until they were 30 years old, our kids should focus on the life of Jesus, who was a non-violent figure, until they are able to reconcile a jealous God in their hearts and minds.
I would love for you to post a pro/con thought in the comments, keep it short, focused, and don’t try to present dozens of ideas in one go. Especially if you can point me in the direction of some resources/books that cover this thought.