7 Ways to Help Our Kids Deal with the Difficult Parts of Scripture
- Catherine Segars Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2022 18 Jul
Let’s face it… the Bible says some stuff that is really hard to understand. It is challenging and confusing and at times offensive. It was written thousands of years ago in several foreign languages and it came from cultures that we don’t readily identify with in the 21st century.
It’s tempting to skip the tough stuff, especially when discussing the Bible with our kids. But we don’t want our children to have a faith that is indefensible or irrelevant. We don’t want them to leave the nest and become part of the youth exodus from the church, discovering that they don’t really know what they believe or why they believe it.
As godly parents, we must help our kids face these difficult parts of the Bible head-on.
That is the topic I address in my latest podcast series on CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD. In episode 31, I offer seven guidelines on dealing with these tough parts of the Bible. In this article, I will give a brief summary of those practical directives.
To help our kids understand the difficult parts of Scripture, we must:
1. Take away the ambush.
In other words, take away the surprise attack. The enemy can’t shock your kids with these tough parts of the Bible if you’ve already introduced them.
When they are old enough, talk to your kids about Tamar’s rape, which David handled badly. Talk to them about the Levite concubine, who was brutally murdered. Talk to them about the Bible’s position on slavery. If you need some pointers, I addressed all of these topics in a recent article as well as episode 35 of CPCW.
Present these tough passages to your kids yourself. Don’t let them get blindsided.
If you’ve already addressed quite a few of these sections of Scripture, they will get used to the idea that there are tough parts of the Bible, but there are also reasonable and satisfying answers that don’t discount the Christian faith.
A phenomenal resource for addressing some of these questions is a book by Mark Mittelberg: The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. That’s a great place to start.
If you preemptively address enough of these passages with your children, offering sound answers and rational explanations, your kids will expect that future questions will yield reasonable answers as well.
2. Don’t ignore your child’s questions.
In a chapter from A New Kind of Apologist titled, “Don’t Blame Us, It’s in the Bible,” Dan Kimble tells the story of a young man who faced serious doubts about his Christian faith in college.
This kid grew up in a Christian home and was even a leader in his high school youth group, but he encountered some difficult sections of the Bible when he got out on his own. And when this college student addressed these concerns with his trusted church leaders, he got some lame answers.
“In his case, he was studying the Bible in his campus group when he noticed the Exodus story of the firstborn in Egypt being killed—a story he had read and heard multiple times about God rescuing Israel and putting more and more pressure on Pharaoh.
But as a college student, the story was very unsettling to him. He began wondering if the New Testament story of Herod’s soldiers killing boys under the age of two in Bethlehem was such a horrific act, why then is it ok when God does something similar?”
That’s a great question. Kimble continues:
“This really troubled him, which led him to ask his small group leaders about it. He was disappointed with the lame answers he received, answers like ‘I don’t know, but when we get to heaven we might know.’ This left him even more unsettled."
We don’t want to give our kids an answer like this young man got… Maybe when we get to heaven, we’ll know. Because of that answer, this college student stopped believing in heaven and hell, God and Jesus.
In episode 32 of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, I address the very question that derailed this young man’s faith, showing why God was just in taking the firstborn sons of Egypt while Pharaoh and Herod were unjust in taking the lives of the Hebrew boys.
We must not ignore our kid’s questions about these difficult parts of the Bible. We must make it a priority to search for answers that are logical and sound.
3. Don’t downplay your child’s questions.
Don’t give a dismissive or inaccurate answer. This is kind of like the last guideline, but sometimes you can give an answer that addresses the issue but doesn’t really answer the underlying concern.
Answers like, “Well God is sovereign, and in His omniscient wisdom He determined that this course of action was right and just.” Or “If it weren’t right, God wouldn’t have let it happen.” Or “It was God’s will.”
I actually heard one of these answers recently. I was in a class where an instructor was explaining how we can trust that Scripture is true, and he said that God wouldn’t have let the Bible exist in an inaccurate form. Such an answer will hardly satisfy a humanist professor, a skeptical friend, or a questioning child.
These kinds of answers are a bunch of theological gobbledygook. They aren’t answers. Our kids need real, logical, satisfying answers. And rest assured, they are out there.
So how do we find those answers?
Where we should start is so simple, and yet we often forget to do it. We must…
4. Pray about it.
We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and his primary job is to reveal truth. John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth, and his first mission is guiding us to the truth.
And remember, James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
God won’t rebuke you, but your kids might if you don’t have a good answer to their probing questions about Scripture and the Christian faith. So Ask God to provide one. That is what He does. That is why He gave us the Holy Spirit, to guide us to the truth, to the answers.
5. Then… Get to work.
Address the question head-on. Ask someone smarter than you. Research it. Read some articles or a book on the topic. Sign up for a class. Listen to a podcast. Make an appointment with your pastor or have coffee with your Sunday School teacher or small group leader. Get to digging.
Yes, you’ve got the Holy Spirit in you, but you need to do some work. Answers won’t magically appear in your mailbox. Ask God to help you find them. He will.
Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” When we search out a matter, we are acting upon our royal heritage, we are acting like sons and daughters of the King.
Our heavenly Father will be faithful to provide answers as we are faithful to work for them.
If you can’t find the answer, keep looking. But while you do…
6. Stand on what you know.
Sometimes answers can elude us for a long time. Don’t give up. Keep looking.
But as parents, we don’t want to pretend like every one of these difficult sections in Scripture can be tied up promptly with a pretty little bow after looking up the topic in our Bible’s glossary or doing a Google search.
There are some questions I have wrestled with for decades. And for many of them, I have found satisfying answers. For others, I’ll be honest, I’m still looking.
BUT… my faith is secure because of all that I do know. I know God. I’ve walked with him for the better part of five decades. I’ve seen him move powerfully in my life in ways that I cannot deny. I’ve seen the truth of Scripture. I’ve experienced the power of his presence.
I am convinced that the Christian worldview is the best explanation of human nature and reality. God has brought many satisfying answers to a lot of these questions that used to keep me up at night as I’ve been faithful to search for them.
Even still, I don’t have all the answers yet. The Apostle Paul told us, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10)
We won’t find every answer this side of heaven. No one has all the answers, not the humanists or the secularists or the materialists or the scientists or the Buddhists or the Muslims or the atheists. No one… except God.
As Christians, we can show that our faith offers the best explanation of reality - if we keep investigating.
But while we are searching, our faith is not unfounded. It is not on shaky ground. Because we are standing on what we already know.
7. Wrestle out loud.
You need to let your kids see you wrestle through these difficult parts of the Bible and the faith.
Because while you are standing on what you know, what some of you have spent decades wrestling through, your kids don’t have that kind of history with God yet. And maybe you are newer to the faith, and you don’t have that kind of history with God yet. That’s ok. We all start somewhere.
But we’ve all got to wrestle. Your kids need to see you wrestle with God for answers. Invite your kids into your journey. Because ultimately, we want our kids to wrestle through these parts of the Bible themselves. (Check out episode 3 of CPCW for tips on how to help your kids wrestle in the faith.)
We need to model this kind of faith for our kids because an authentic faith is one that wrestles. We don’t need to sit by passively and say, “Well, I guess we’ll know when we get to heaven.” That is not good enough.
If we want to help our kids have a firm foundation in the Christian faith, we need to introduce these difficult parts of Scripture to our children before someone else does. We need to invite and address their concerns head-on, not ignoring or downplaying their questions. We need to pray for answers. And we need to do some work, all the while standing on what we know and having a transparent faith that wrestles out loud.
We need a game plan to thwart the enemy’s attacks on our kids. These guidelines are a good place to start.
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright—turned stay-at-home-mom—turned author, speaker, podcaster, blogger, and motherhood apologist. This homeschooling mama of five has a master’s degree in communications and is earning a master’s degree in Christian apologetics. As host of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, named the 2022 Best Kids and Family Podcast by Spark Media, Catherine helps parents navigate through dangerous secular landmines to establish a sound Biblical foundation for their kids. You can find Catherine’s blog, dramatic blogcast, and other writings at www.catherinesegars.com and connect with her on Facebook.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Are you in the trenches with your toddlers or teens? Read Rhonda's full article here!