Here's the second part of Fiona's article about reading the whole Bible with our children. You'll find the first part here.
In particular, I am convinced that reading all of the Bible helps our children (and us!) to understand the reality and seriousness and ugliness of sin. We live in a cultural context which has greatly undermined the idea of sin (it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of our genes/parents/educational system/government/mental illness/etc).
(As an aside, I think reading the Bible is a great tool for sex education! When my son asks, “What is a prostitute?”, my answer can lead to great discussion about the right context for sex, about misuse of God’s good gift, and how sex shouldn’t be used to buy acceptance or money or popularity, but to cement a relationship that already exists. The Bible makes it clear that many people do not obey God’s laws about sex. The Bible gives us a beautiful picture of the beauty of sex and the context (marriage) in which it should be enjoyed; but it also shows us the destructiveness and shamefulness of sexual immorality, as well as God’s forgiveness and restoration of sinners.)
Reading the whole Bible also teaches us about the wrath of God (another unpopular concept today). God is holy and righteous, and thus hates sin and evil. Uncomfortably, the Bible teaches that it is God himself who often brings disaster, on his enemies, or even on his own people (think of the Flood, for example; 2 Kings 17, especially verses 18, 20; Amos 3:2 and chapter 4; Revelation). God is not just our Saviour, but our Judge. God is the one who destroys as well as the one who saves. God is not a weak, benevolent God who wants to be our friend, but a passionate, powerful, majestic, terrifying God. Read the whole Bible, and let your children learn that God is to be feared as well as loved! For example, when we read Lamentations to our children recently, and asked what this book taught us about God, they said things like, “Angry. Punishing. Fierce. Merciful. Keeps his promises to punish as well as save”. These are important theological insights!
My hope is that my own children, those I teach in Sunday School, and those I teach in Scripture classes at school, will understand that God is not someone whom you can take or leave, as it suits you; and that what matters is not so much what you think of God, but what God thinks of you.
Next week Fiona will talk about the practicalities of dealing with the particularly “difficult” books or passages with our children.
image is by johnb2008 from flickr