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A few months ago I had this great idea to start reading Genesis to my boys chapter by chapter for our morning devotions. I figured that my boys were ready to move beyond the Bible storybooks we have and delve into God's pure, unadulterated Word.
And after making my grand announcement and making our way victoriously through the creation account, I remembered what else is in Genesis. Not much pure or unadulterated there, at least as far as the characters are concerned. Like valiant explorers, my boys and I stumbled our way through the Bible's depiction of Noah's drunken nakedness, Abraham's polygamist affair with Hagar, Sarah's near-rape by the Egyptian king. We got to Sodom and Gomorrah and even choked our way through that, only to find that the very next day I was supposed to read my seven, five, and three year-olds the story when Lot's daughter's got him drunk so he could father their children. After just describing (in hopefully dumbed-down terms) why the men of Sodom were so wicked God chose to destroy them, I just didn't have the stomach to read about Lot's daughters as well.
When it comes right down to it, not many Bible stories would pass conservative family screening practices. You have Ruth laying down at the feet of an inebriated Boaz with a marriage proposal in the middle of the night. In Numbers 25, you have an Israelite and his Midianite mistress killed when a spear pierces completely through both of their bodies. (Care to guess what position they were in when this couple was shish kebobed?) Not to mention all the strange, bizarre, and lewd behavior going on in the early chapters of the Holy Book. I mean, have you read all those laws in Leviticus? They were apparently put there for some reasons that I don't even want to know.
Then there's the pure violence, which would automatically turn the Bible into an R movie even without all the kinky bedroom behavior. You've got entrails spilling out onto the floor on more than one occasion. You've got former first-lady Jezebel thrown out a window with dogs licking up her blood. I'm not even going to mention what the people resorted to when under intense siege and on the brink of starvation.
There's also the language to deal with. What do you think Paul is talking about in Galatians 5:12 when he tells believers who are a little too zealous for circumcision to "cut themselves off"? Samson accuses the groomsmen at his own wedding of "plowing with his heifer." (Care to guess what he's referring to there?) Peter was a bona fide potty-mouth. Even God pushes the envelope by telling Job to "gird up his loins like a man." Modern translation? Put on your undies and man up!
As if the sex, violence, and language weren't enough, the Bible also has plenty of cases of the terrifying, bizarre, and sheer insane. There's a crazy woman cutting off her son's foreskin to appease the angel of the Lord who came after Moses with a vendetta. There's a demon-possessed man breaking his chains, cutting himself to shreds, and living amongst the caves. (Have you ever dared wonder what he ate?) I defy you to find any horror movie with creepier premises than what you'll find in the Bible's 66 sacred books. Just Revelation itself has more terror than the contents of Steven King's own nightmares. What makes these prophecies even more terrifying is that you know they're going to come true.
I guess what I love about Scripture is that it doesn't sugar-coat its accounts to make its stories more acceptable or family-friendly. I admit that's made for some awkward discussions around the breakfast table. But I figure if God wrote it, I'd better be prepared to read it to my kids.
Just don't blame me for skipping over the part about Lot and his daughters.
What about you? Do you "censor" Bible stories for your kids? Or can you think of anything else I should have included in my list of R-rated Bible stories?