I don’t know if you realize it, but your children are singing about blood and wrath and nakedness and death every morning at TCS, the very things we normally try to keep from their eyes and ears at this age. It’s really very strange when you think about it objectively. We’re used to it, but make no mistake, it’s strange.
I have a vivid memory of reading through the Old Testament with my first child for the first time. My initial excitement for beginning our journey through the Scriptures was quickly met with dilemma. Blood, nakedness, wrath, death. I remember pausing to think and her prompting me, “Keep going, Dad. Why did you stop?” I was having an argument with myself in my head while she was waiting for me to continue. Does she really need to know that Cain actually killed Abel? Maybe I’ll just say he called him a really mean word. Yeah, that’s it, a really mean word.
While children’s versions of the Bible certainly “childrenize” the content, the good ones keep enough in to still present a dilemma and the bad ones leave enough out to misconstrue the whole story. On top of that, they have pictures and pictures make it worse. The one I had at the time was filled with images of God’s people crying throughout the entire Old Testament.
The dilemma continued once she was out of diapers and then worsened when she began to read for herself and wanted her own Bible. I had anticipated parental anxiety about my daughter’s exposure to a lot of different things, but never the Bible. She received her own “big girl” Bible soon after she began to read on her own. By “big girl” I mean the one with the full story in it. We gave it to her, prayed for her, and gave her some guidance on how to read it. And then we prayed for ourselves that God would secure her in His Word and look after her. I felt better. I went to bed, closed my eyes, remembered the story of Lot, snuck back into her room, tore out a few pages, and then went back to bed.
As we continued to have children and continued to read the Bible to them, we continued to evolve in our attitude towards the dilemma. Our children will be exposed to the hard realities of life at an early age through various means; a conversation you wish they wouldn’t have had, a movie you wish you wouldn’t have let them watch, a scene with the neighbors you wish they would not have witnessed. I didn’t really tear pages out of my daughter’s Bible. While I still don’t believe you should be completely uninhibited with your Scripture reading to a 3-year-old, I do believe that the Scriptures are a wonderful place for first encounters with the hard realities of life. They are a wonderful place because they are the life-giving truth of God. And they are a wonderful place because you are right there with them in these encounters; talking to them, explaining to them, easing them slowly into a world that is in desperate need of redemption.
Monday morning, our 5-year-olds will sing about blood and wrath and nakedness and death. Here is why.
Rock of Ages summed up by stanza:
The blood of Jesus not only protects us from the wrath of a holy God, but endears us to Him as His own. (the double-cure)
There is not a single thing we can do to make everything wrong in us right. God makes it right by grace alone.
We are like infants in God’s hands, depending on him for survival.
Christ when I’m born, Christ when I die, Christ forever more.