How Long Should We Shield Teens From Evil? (Reflections on Teaching the OT)

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.

Author: Token Confessions

Perpetual Seekers of Solidarity with God through sharing in the life death and resurrection of Jesus The Christ Pastors and Communicator Shepherd Business Owners Coffee Lovers, Snobs, and Roaster Sports fan but too rational to be a fanatic Sons, Brothers, Friends, Husbands, and Fathers

4 thoughts on “How Long Should We Shield Teens From Evil? (Reflections on Teaching the OT)”

  1. This exact conversation came up in our family as we toured Kings Mountain Military Park and listened to the description of brother fighting brother on this very mountain in South Carolina for our freedom in the Revolutionary War. Our daughter’s response was, “This isn’t a very happy story.” And I said, that is true. It was the price of freedom and we should never forget it. The same is true of the Old Testament all the way to the death of Jesus on the cross. This is the price of freedom and the costly costly grace we have received (but don’t deserve).

    I remember reading that at some point the story of Noah has to be told to our older children, not just two fluffy bunnies and two smiling camels on a flannel graph, and instead we share that everyone who was not on that boat, well, they didn’t make it. Not a happy story. But that’s not the end of the story…it never is with God! I personally think this is a great age to begin to talk about this part of our Biblical history, the good, the bad, the ugly. I will pray for you Cedric, and this is a good shout out to us parents…the flood is on its way!

    1. , When Christ lives in us, then he shows through us. Does Christ live in us? Are we shoiwng others that we are New Apostolic Christians by the things we say or by our actions? The study notes in my Bible for 2 Timothy 3:5 say, The act or appearance of being religious includes going to church, knowing Christian doctrine, using Christian cliche9s, and following a community’s Christian traditions. Such practices can make a person look good, but if the inner attitudes of belief, love, and worship are lacking, the outer appearance is meaningless. Paul warns us not to be deceived by people who only appear to be Christians at first, but their daily behavior will give them away. We can act Christian all we want, but it’s what’s in our heart that really matters. If Christ is living in us, then he will show through and others will see that when we say we are Christians, we truly mean it.

  2. Very good question Ced. My first inkling was to say never. We should call evil out whenever we see it as to set the precedent that it will not be tolerated or ignored. And as we can all remember when we were young, we were always looking for the hypocritical actions or beliefs of our parents so we can use that as fodder when they put the moral hammer down on us. But while it is never to early to teach our children to identify evil, there is an obligation as a parent to protect them as well. So where does the balance lie? Is there a certain age, mentality, or IQ that determines the next level of evil exposure children can take? I think there are ways to indoctrinate children into the ideas before exposing them to the evil as a frontal assault. Take abortion for instance. You wouldn’t want to flash images of dismembered body parts to a child to prove a point about how gruesome it is. The wouldn’t even grasp the idea if they don’t even understand the basics of how a pregnancy works. You would need to explain the physiology first, then the emotional humanistic impacts as well as the moral implications. Once they can understand the importance of the issue and draw that emotional connection, they may then be able to understand the impact of those gruesome pictures and how that shocking image can actually be something that makes the difference in pointing out the evil. Now, that being said, if you already have the intellectual understanding and the emotional connection, is it then really necessary to “baptize” them with that gruesomeness. Sometimes imagery may be too much, and this is an extreme example, but I’m trying to draw a logical progression of information that may help you lay out your lessons in such a way that your students can digest more easily while taking precautions not to over step. Try the approach of understanding the premises and logic behind how and why something is evil, then you can give biblical examples related to that evil, then draw comparisons to current related instances of evil. I don’t know, just throwing stuff out there because I though it was an interesting topic.

  3. Thanks for the feedback. I would have replied earlier but last week was a little crazy for me. I’m not sure I have an answer myself either. It will be interesting when it comes time to make decisions about when to allow Isla to view certain types of moves, read more mature books whether fiction or non-fiction, to expose her to some of the darker sides of life and the world.

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