This past Sunday I taught on Genesis 4 the story of Cain and Abel. After giving them a minute to read the chapter in its entirety before discussing it, I gave them an opportunity to share their thoughts. One of the observations that some of my students made was how violent of a story it was and how they were somewhat disturbed by the violent nature of this scriptural account. My response to their disturbance was little more than, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. That may seem like a dismissive response but seriously, it’s going to get really gruesome and disturbing as we move along in our journey through the Old Testament. Next week we’ll be on The Flood, which if you think about the implications there would have been hundreds if not thousands of rotting corpses of men and beast floating in the flood waters and lying on the ground when the flood waters subsided. By the time we get to Judges I may have to send a waiver form to parents to notify them of the content we’ll be covering (okay not really but you get the picture). All that to say it has spawned a question that I have been pondering this afternoon over a nice cup of coffee Reese’s Cups and message prep.
In our effort to shield our teens’ eyes and minds have we over sterilized them to the gruesome nature of the Old Testament? Is there a downside to trying keep our teens away completely from things that we have a moral objection to unless it’s presented in a highly stylized fictional and fantastical manner?
The dilemma I’m weighing is while I don’t want my students being desensitized to evil and wickedness I do think that at some point if you really understand the nature of men as scripture presents it you won’t be shocked by their evil and wickedness. Saddened and grieved? Absolutely. Shocked? I’m not certain that is a healthy response for an adult to have to the evil and wickedness of men. Obviously pre-teens and early adolescents aren’t adults yet, but they are getting closer to that destination than they are to being children. So how do we transition kids from the innocence of their childhood to the sober realizations of adulthood? My concern is that Christian students will grow into the kind of adults that avoid evil at costs even if it means never confronting evil in a manner that seeks to bring light life and healing to the darkest and most depraved corners of our society culture and world.