Should the Bible be censored for kids? Find out what experts say.
From the account of Cain murdering Abel, to David committing adultery with Bathsheba, to the woman at the well’s five husbands, to the beheading of John the Baptist, the Bible is fraught with some gruesome and disturbing accounts that expose humankind’s sinful nature. Whether it’s dodging narratives of brutal murder, rape, and incest or navigating Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, children’s ministers face a unique challenge when it comes to knowing how to teach kids the tougher parts of the Bible.
How do we prayerfully cover all Bible stories for all ages? It’s no simple task-nor one to be taken lightly. For some, the idea of quietly censoring the Bible has its appeal. And it’s true: To a degree, simply leaving out the tough stories of the Bible would be easier.
But–and this is a big “but”–children’s ministers and experts all agree that omitting certain accounts of the Bible is a flawed approach that can result in children developing a flawed faith. So what’s the best approach to handling the racier events of the Bible? Read on to find out.
Unpack the Reality of Sin
Experts agree that we must figure out how to present all of the Bible-even the really uncomfortable parts-to kids so they learn from it. While the parts full of humanity’s sin can feel treacherous with children, shielding them from these parts may in fact shield them from the awareness of our sinful nature and our need for a Savior.
“Most of the ‘uncomfortable or censored’ content is a direct result of sin,” says Bill Emeott, lead childhood ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, “and kids need to understand what sin is and its consequences.”
We can’t teach the foundations of Christianity to children without teaching the concept of sin. Presenting the right teachings at the right time in a child’s life can provide the building blocks necessary to establish initial understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to him through Jesus. Starting with the third story in the Bible, kids need to know how Adam and Eve’s poor choice allowed sin to enter the world and separate humankind from God. It’s important to not protect kids from an early and basic understanding of sin and its gravity. This knowledge is crucial for kids to understand more about the Bible, themselves, and the world around them.
“At the same time,” Emeott notes, “it’s important to be sensitive to a child’s maturity and ability to understand the content. Whenever possible and appropriate, teaching the concepts and reality of these events is valuable-and foundational.”