Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Post: Should We Skip the Bad Parts?

(If you have ever thought about skipping over passages in Scripture that deal with murder to protect your kids or you have boys that like to re-enact battle scenes, you should definitely check out today's post!  My dear friend, Jessalyn, from Desiring Virtue is sharing some awesome insight into the word "kill" and how we as Christian parents should deal with it in relation to our young kids.  Thanks, Jessalyn!!!)

"I'm going to kill you!"

These are not words that a mother likes to hear coming out of her four year old's mouth, even if he is acting out a battle scene between two action figures.  Once again I have the opportunity to reiterate the severity of the word "kill" and to explain the horrendous nature of death.

Murder and evil are results of the sin that entered our world when Adam and Eve chose to rebel against their Maker. The action of killing another human being is especially heinous to God because humans are created in his image and very precious to him. Words like "kill" are not words we should throw around lightly.

We have had many of these "opportunities" lately as our oldest boys (ages 4 and 2 1/2) have become somewhat obsessed with their superhero action figures. It might surprise you, however, to learn that the first time my oldest heard the word "kill" was not by watching TV or by playing a gory video game.
Actually, the first time my son uttered the word "kill" was after we began reading his children's Bible to him. It didn't take long before we came to the terrible story of Cain and Abel and the meaning of such a word had to be explained. As we went about this task, I wondered if it would be better to leave out these stories of murder and sin from his biblical framework for a while. After all, he was so "innocent" what good could it do to teach him such horrific accounts?

Have you ever thought about how much death is recorded in the Word of God? Soon after Cain's sin comes the account of the flood where God wipes out the entire earth (killing everything except what was contained in one boat) because the people were so violent and evil. Next we have the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to explain to our little ones--entire cities full of people who are destroyed because of their wickedness. Moving on, we learn that God asks his servant Abraham to sacrifice (kill) his son Isaac, only to have a ram be supplied in the last moments to be killed in Isaac's place. Not too much longer and we are taken to Egypt where the Pharaoh gets it into his head to kill all the baby boys in Israel! What terrible, awful things to have to describe and explain to such a young "innocent" child.

And yet, none of our children are truly innocent. We all carry in us the propensity to sin. We all--from conception--are a part of Adam's family. Each of us are effected by the sickness Cain inherited from his father called sin--that sickness that demands the need for salvation. We are all a part of this grand narrative which reveals the severity of our need for a savior.

This, of course, is why it is important--imperative even--to not skip over the dark parts of the Bible with our children. Without the knowledge of sin and evil and the reality of death, what need will our children have for a Savior? Why did Jesus come? Was he just a nice guy who wore flowing white robes and did miracles or did he come on a mission? Did he come to save us and if so, from what? Why, of all things, did he have to die on a cross?

When my boys are playing with their superheroes the storyline usually goes something like this: One action figure is designated as the bad guy and utters an odious threat like the one above which then gives Superman or Spiderman the opportunity to swoop in and save the day. In these small exchanges a deep truth is being conveyed--a hero is only necessary if someone needs help.

The pages of human history testify again and again to the fact that our race is in desperate need of help.
Our children need to know that we, as sons of Adam, have a gigantic problem. Sin and its consequences are not truths we can afford to teach our children about later, but rather must be explained as early as possible. Though we may use discernment in how we explain such truths and to what extent we explain them, one thing is certain-they must be explained. Otherwise we run the risk of raising children with no need of a Savior.

As I explain to my children how horrific the idea of killing another person is--how terrible death is--I have the marvelous opportunity to teach them about the life found in Christ! Jesus came into this world to conquer death and give us eternal life! One day he will come back to punish those who do evil things like murder and their will never be any pain or suffering ever again! Isn't our Savior wonderful? Isn't our God a good God?

Our Bibles may be full of stories of death, but only for the purpose of revealing the Source of life and salvation. Before we placed our trust in Jesus Christ, each of us was in danger of perishing under the slavery of sin, each of us was facing eternal death and damnation and yet, God the Father sent his Son to rescue his creation. He loved us so much that he gave his only Son so that we could have eternal life and no longer be haunted by the fear of deathAll of Scripture points to this great Hero who has come to save us and who will one day put an end to all evil and all wickedness.

For these reasons we do not skip over the dark parts of Scripture with our children, without the knowledge of darkness, they could never understand the value of the Light.

I want my children to know about sin because I want them to know about the Savior.

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men."
(Romans 5:18 ESV)


Jessalyn is the author and editor of DesiringVirtue, a Christ-centered, doctrinally rich resource for Christian women who desire to bring honor to the Lord through their lives. She is the wife of a Christ-exalting man and the mother of three precious little boys.


  1. i loved this post. My boys are four and I agree, it is very tempting to skip over the parts in the Bible that we deem unsavory. That's one reason I got so excited when they sparked an interest in super heroes - I love the tie-in's you make with the story of Scripture. I think there will be numerous opportunities for me to help them make those connections in my future!

    1. Oh the world of Super heroes. Yes, there are many spiritual tie-ins that get to be discussed many, many, many times! :) I look forward to hearing your accounts!

  2. I have a one year old boy and I know I will be faced with this one day! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

    1. I'm glad that you were encouraged Jenn! The day will be here before you know it!!!!! :)

  3. With two boys, I have heard that word too many times. It becomes a great opportunity to share the gospel and our need for Christ. And this, "without the knowledge of darkness, they could never understand the value of the Light." Amen. Thanks Jessalyn!

    1. So true. It is funny, sometimes I find it easier to tie in the gospel message to the worst things my children say or do than with the good things. I guess that is why the gospel is such good news!!!!! -no matter how bad you are or how bad the things you have done are, Jesus is ready and willing to save!

  4. This is a great post. Thank you. I have a 7 & 8 year old and though they kinda know about Cain and Able I have refrained from reading it to them in it's entirity. Something to think and pray about. I agree with all you wrote :)

    1. I'm so glad it encouraged you to think about sharing more of the story with them! I pray that you will be able to do so wisely and with great discernment.

  5. I know I'm late in responding, but I would love some insight into how you handle the explanation of the 10th plague of Egypt (the death of firstborn males) with your children. This is the one I have skipped over so far (our boys are just 1.5 and 3). I've found it relatively "easy" to deal with the stories of man killing man, but have struggled with how to explain the concept of God authorizing the killing of children to my young boys. I worry about skipping over this detail, but just am lost at how to explain it in a way that still rings true to the cross. Thanks for any help!!

  6. Hi! I completely understand your hesitation on this point (I too cringe as I read through this part of the story with my children. I think that we worry the most that our children will view God as bad after such a story or scary or evil. We want them to see the Lord in the same way we see him (as our loving, heavenly Father), not as a God who judges the nations (in sometimes terrible ways). But we must remember that he is both. While he is loving and protective of his children, he also (at the same time) hates sin and righteously punishes it. Pharaoh's sin (of disobeying the Lord and not submitting to His authority) had terrible consequences (consequences that the Lord warned him against to begin with), but these were ultimately the fault of Pharaoh who's stubbornness cost his nation terribly. This is a key point to make to our children: Sin has horrible consequences and it will be punished. The gospel tie-in? If we place our trust in Christ's atoning death for us on the cross, then all of the punishment our sin deserves was placed on him and we will never have to fear God's wrath ever again because he will see only Jesus' righteousness when he looks at us.

    When we read and teach this story to our children, we tend to turn their focus to the Holy Spirit passing over the Israelite's children (which is much more the focus of this part of Israel's history not the plagues themselves). Their faith in the Lord's salvation, demonstrated by their killing a passover lamb and spreading its blood over their door frames, kept their children from suffering the same fate as the Egyptian's children. This story is rich in gospel truth and therefore is an incredible story to share with our children. We, by putting our faith in the Lord's salvation and in the blood of Jesus Christ who died for us are saved in the exact same way as the Israelites! But, you see, without the truth of judgement that fell upon the Egyptians, the truth of the Israelite's salvation isn't nearly as sweet or as applicable because their is nothing to save them from. So we must share this terrible judgement with our children in order to share this marvelous salvation with them as well.

    I don't want to give the impression that we can or should explain this without feeling. Our children will think this judgement is a terrible, horrible thing and so it is. We can talk to our children about that and share our own feelings about such a thing, but the blame always lays on the sin that deserves punishment and not the God who righteously judges it. God must judge sin, but the marvelous thing is that he allows us to experience his mercy and love through his Son. This is the message I love to share with my boys.

    I hope that is helpful. Also, I don't know if you have a good children's Bible like The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Gospel Story Bible, but having one of those to read will help you make the connections and make sure that the story doesn't end without hope.

    1. Thanks for the insights and suggestions and taking the time to reply. We do have both of those bibles and love them! :)



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