Should I Read Sensitive Bible Passages with My Kids?

| Time: 8 Minutes

As we built our Discover the Bible resource pages on each book of the Bible for you, we stopped to consider that many of the books in the Bible include sensitive passages with mature themes and content.

One phenomenal podcast we often link to on these pages included a helpful disclaimer at the beginning of their episodes about these books. So initially, we thought we may need to provide you with a disclaimer about these books as well. However, that might sound like we want to warn you away from them, which we certainly do not.

So instead of a disclaimer, we want to give you four reasons to engage with these books of the Bible as a family. Sprinkled among these assertions, we hope you will come to see the value of these books despite their sensitive content.

We should probably mention that some of the books we have in mind are Song of Songs, Hosea, Ezekiel, and 1 Corinthians. Although the themes of these books as a whole are mature, you will find plenty of other passages in Scripture with blush-worthy content included as well. We hope this article equips you to explore those passages and come away edified.

So let’s consider four encouragements as to why you want to read the mature content of the Bible with your kids.

1. Engaging with Any Part of God’s Word Will Do Good

It’s time to remember one of our foundational beliefs about the Bible. Every word of our Bibles originated in the mind of God and was delivered to us through the pen of human authors, by the orchestration of the Holy Spirit out of God’s great love for us. We learn this from two different passsages in Scripture, among others.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21 NIV)

If God authored every word of the Scriptures for our good, that includes books like Hosea and Song of Songs, that includes the stories told to us about sexual sin and violence, and it includes the poems that warn us away from adultery or encourage intimacy. In other words, even the cringy parts of the Bible are a gift from God to do us good.

This is where we must engage our trust. If God has told me all of his Word is good, and this passage that seems unsavory to me is in his Word, I must trust that he has a good reason for including it.

Awaken your sense of adventure and ask God to open your family’s eyes to see wonderful things in his Word—and in this part of his Word (Psalm 119:18). You might be pleasantly surprised by the Holy Spirit’s ability to edify you through these passages!

2. God Is Holy, and His Word Is Pure and Wisely Authored

Not only will God’s Word do your family good, but God’s Word is good. It’s discreet, sensitive, and wisely authored. God is the source of all goodness, truth, and beauty, and he hates wickedness (Proverbs 8:13). The Lord never tempts us towards evil (James 1:13). Thus, his Word is a safe place to go with your kids. Although it may describe things that happen behind closed doors, such things will not be discussed in the same way as it may be in your son’s high school locker room.

Yes, they might learn a thing or two about sex. Yes, they might have their eyes opened to the sinfulness of the world and heinous nature of sin. But God’s Word is not pornographic, nor does it include violence for our entertainment. In fact, often it hides sensitive things behind the veil of poetry. God has written conservatively. He has written in a way that we get the point of a mature passage, but we don’t have to dwell on what might either disturb us or lead us into temptation.

Your kids are safe in God’s Word.

For example, you can read Song of Songs and your kids will blush about a few passages. They may figure out from the Bible a few things you have not told them yet. But, until they are married, there is much in that book that will fly right over their heads, which they won’t understand. Alongside the sensitive stuff, they will hear a precious charge sung to their souls: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Songs 2:7 NIV). Such truth is a wonderful door into deep conversations with your kids about love, intimacy, marriage, commitment, and God’s delight in his people.

Ask God to speak to your kids’ hearts by his Spirit and to teach them as they hear these passages. Trust that the Lord is able to guard their hearts, and that he can give you wisdom to navigate conversations or questions that may arise.

3. God’s Word Shapes Your Family’s Ethics

Now we just made the point that the Bible delivers mature content sensitively. However, there is still much in Scripture that’s, should we say, PG-13. In all seriousness, thank God some of this stuff isn’t a movie! As a parent, you will need to use discretion when reading the Bible with your kids. However, your temptation will be to make a habit of passing over what may be uncomfortable. We would like to encourage you to reconsider skipping these tough passages.

Your kids are going to learn about sex. But the Bible doesn’t exist to entertain or inform, but to transform. As it talks about every corner of life, it teaches us how to live God’s way in God’s world. These mature passages are an opportunity to let God’s Word shape your kids’ ethical framework—including their sexual ethics. It’s better that your kids learn sexual ethics from the home, and from times spent around God’s Word, rather than from their third-grade friend, or TV, or their public-school classroom, or the kids on their baseball team.

Your kids are going to be exposed to violence and sin. But the Bible isn’t a horror novel. It tells the true story of the consequences of our sin and teaches us to distinguish good from evil. These mature passages are an opportunity to let God’s Word paint the world as it is—under a curse and in need of redemption. It’s better that your kids are exposed to the horrors of the world through time spent around God’s Word, rather than blindsided by it when they witness it outside their home.

See touchy passages not as obstacles to be avoided, but as opportunities to grow. Not only will you have the chance to teach your kids wisdom, but you will build a family culture where tough questions are asked, not avoided.

Perhaps this will give your kids the freedom to come to you when life gets messy, and they need to talk about sensitive subjects. They will know, first, that their parents aren’t afraid to talk about such things, and second, that God’s Word has something to say to their situation.

Ask God to give you wisdom as you discuss these tough passages with your kids and ask him to use his Word to shape the culture of your home, and the worldview of your children.

4. God’s Word Points Us to Jesus

Please don’t think, however, that the goal of time spent in God’s Word is merely to build our worldview, moral framework, and to learn life lessons. We read the Bible because it is through God’s Word that we come to know Jesus. We read it because it tells us of his work, his character, and his goodness.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he said to his disciples,

“This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44, 45 NIV)

Jesus looks back at the Old Testament and tells us that every part of it—Law, Prophets, and Psalms—was written about him. The key to understanding the Scriptures is to see and know Jesus through them.

These tough passages of Scripture point to Jesus in a host of ways. The violent passages highlight our depravity, leaving us longing for Jesus the Savior to rescue us from our sin. The deadly passages may jar us with the intensity of the judgment of God and point us to the huge sacrifice Jesus paid to save us from God’s wrath. The sensitive and intimate passages may help us consider the love Jesus has for his church and the goodness of Jesus to provide us with such wonderful experiences. The passages about perversion may lead us to consider the righteousness of God offered to us only in Jesus.

Ask your kids when you come to mature passages in the Bible: Is there any way this passage points us to Jesus?

To see Jesus in every part of Scripture your kids will need to be familiar with the good news—the life-changing message about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So see the challenge of navigating this content as a reason to rehearse the gospel as a family! Pray that God would equip you with all you need to see the glory of Jesus as a family in every part of his Word.

Take Courage Parents

Parents, exploring Scripture with your kids at times will be challenging. Believe it will also be rewarding. Ask the Lord for the help he is so ready to give you. He desires the growth, godliness, and joy of your kids even more than you do (Ephesians 6:4).

That’s why he has given them his Word out of his love—every bit of it.

These encouragements are not meant to dissuade you from exercising your judgment and wisdom as you approach God’s Word. Don’t abandon prudence and discernment. Your five-year-old child may not be ready for Hosea. But Song of Songs could do your middle schooler or teenager a great deal of good—it may be God’s grace to equip them for some of their greatest challenges ahead as they learn to understand love according to God’s design.

Trust the Lord and depend on his help. May the Lord lead you from every blush, cringe, sensitive and uncomfortable moment, bewildered expression, and embarrassing silence into wisdom, into worshipping Jesus, into greater joy as a family, and into laughter if you need it. May discovering the Bible—every part of it—bring great joy to your family.

Consider watching this phenomenal video, “Explaining Mature Themes in the Bible to Kids,” by Elizabeth Urbanowicz from the Foundation Worldview Podcast to further equip you to read sensitive Bible passages with your kids.

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