Steve Hays of Triablogue wrote a response to my discussion of teaching biblical genocide to children called “Scout’s Honor!” It includes all the hallmarks of Hays’s critical analysis (or lack thereof) including the claim that I accept the UN as my “moral authority”. (How’s that supposed to work exactly?! “Hmm, has the UN addressed whether I can cheat on my taxes? No? Then I guess I’m good to go!”)
Anyway, I digress. Here was the first point Hays made:
“i) To begin with, the Bible is not a children’s’ book. The Bible wasn’t written to or for children. Not everything in Scripture is age-appropriate for children.”
So how does Hays explain the fact that the market is flooded with “children’s Bibles” which include the R-rated bits but attempt to obscure the horror with things like talking parrots? Isn’t his quibble with Zondervan rather than me?
And the fact is that kids in Sunday school are fed all sorts of R-rated Bible stories. It is just that they are airbrushed to the point of egregious distortion. The drowning of millions of people and animals in a mass flood becomes a playful bedtime story in which animals march onto a big boat two by two, driven by a jovial Santa Claus with sandals and staff. David killing and decapitating Goliath becomes the equivalent of giving the bully a knock-out punch at the bike racks. The genocide of Jericho is taught with a joyful ditty that makes it sound like we’re cheering on our favorite basketball team: “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho….” And all depictions of the atonement — understood as a human sacrifice to appease the wrathful deity — is rendered as bloodless as the death of Aslan in a certain big budget, family friendly film.
I can understand that Hays would think these are not age appropriate stories. So does he believe we shouldn’t teach children about Noah and the flood, David and Goliath, Joshua and Jericho or Jesus and the cross?
And if you think we should teach these stories, how do you do so in a way that is age appropriate without hopelessly distorting the R-rated realities that they convey?