The Ugly Parts of the Scriptures
I recently went on record in my sermon three weeks ago, that I believe the Bible is the most wonderful book on the earth. It is supernaturally composed and can reveal to us not only our great God but also who we are as well (James 1:22-25). The construction of 66 books written over two millennia having a complete story from beginning to end and the fact that it still has relevance for us today is stunning. It is a beautiful book!
But since the scriptures reveal the corrupt nature of our hearts it also has its ugly parts- places where we might want to look away. Within our study in Genesis, we are about to arrive at some ‘ugly parts’. We will be looking at episodes we might prefer to avoid. In chapters nineteen and twenty, we will see the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, the violent destruction of those cities, the incestuous behavior of Lot’s daughters and Abraham’s attempted infidelity by giving Sarah to Abimelech in return for his own safety. These behaviors should be repulsive to our sensibilities.
So naturally a question might arise, ‘should I keep my children in the service to hear these stories?’ And I would say the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. We need the entirety of scripture! Paul told the Corinthians that the Old Testament stories were for their (and our) benefit. “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (1 Co 10:6–7). And the major problem with our view of sin is thinking that it’s not a big deal. But sin evolved and spreads. Just a little leaven pervades the whole bunch. Children need to hear the outcome of growing sin and its consequences before a holy God. But a natural tendency is to shield them from negativity in order to protect them. But let me remind you what Paul wrote- ‘that we might not desire evil, as they did.’ We actually protect our children by letting them read and hear of these Old Testament examples.
This is where parenting needs to come alongside the pulpit (I hope you are doing this in your homes already). As we discuss these stories, talk with your kids. Ask them pertinent questions that will have relevance to their own character development. Ask them questions like ‘how did the children of Sodom and Gomorrah become sinful adults? Did they watch what their society was doing or consult the Bible? Why is it an advantage to grow up in Christian home? How important are the warnings in the Bible? Why should we study it each day? Just how bad is sin? Where can it lead?’ Dialogue like this will help your child make sense of the world. It will connect their hoped-for faith with the reality of our sinful condition. You can never go wrong sharing the truth (John 8:32), but there could be massive consequences avoiding it. These are hard topics. But you have a gracious Holy Spirit that allows you to communicate these difficult matters to your kids. Know that your pastor will be praying for you as you do.
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