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Is the Bible inappropiate for children?

Why does the Almighty God sometimes use explicit vocabulary (e.g. In Ezekiel and Song of Solomon)? Isn’t the Bible meant to be read by all mankind, including children?

Sometimes we may read passages in the Bible which seem unsuitable for children. Parts of Ezekiel, for example, and the Song of Solomon, are rarely read publicly in church with children present. If God has written the Bible for by everybody in the world, why isn’t the entire Bible written in “child-friendly” language? A key passage which can help us answer this question is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which explains why God gave us the Bible:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The use of strong language

This key passage shows us that one reason God has given us the Bible is to “rebuke” us. The sad truth is that we are sinful people who easily grow comfortable with our sins (1 Corinthians 5:1-2), even though our sins dishonor God and eventually lead us to destruction (Matthew 18:8). Thankfully, God loves sinners enough to warn us to repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). In fact, God loves us so much that He is ready even to shock us with graphic imagery, if that is the only way to get our attention and show us how wicked and ugly our sins are, so that we will turn back to Him and live (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

This explains why the Old Testament prophets sometimes used very ugly metaphors. Jesus Himself occasionally used strong language (e.g. Luke 11:39-52). God doesn’t aim these rebukes directly at young children. He rebukes people who can understand them, and who need to be shocked into repentance. As God says in Revelation, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

Specific instructions for various types of people

The key passage above also explains that God gave us the Bible so that we “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This means that the Bible contains all the instructions from God that we need to please Him in every area of our lives (a principle known as “the sufficiency of Scripture”). Of course, throughout our lives, our responsibilities change.  So if we are to please God we will need Him to teach us different things at different stages.

This is why the Bible contains specific instructions for various types of people. For example, instructions for children (Ephesians 6:1-3), and instructions for parents (Ephesians 6:4). The Bible also has some particular teaching relevant for married couples, such as found in the Song of Solomon. Because God values marriage so highly (Genesis 2:24-25; 1 Timothy 4:3), He is not embarrassed to encourage joy and passion between husbands and wives with poetic imagery. Which, again, is not directly aimed at children.

Different needs

In summary, then: if we think that some parts of the Bible are inappropriate for children to read, we should realise that this is not despite, but precisely because the Bible is written for all of mankind. Because God wants to speak to every one of us, He has written the Bible in a way that will build us all up by His grace (Acts 20:32) according to our different needs (Ephesians 4:29). Because God has written His Bible in this way, we can say to God, at every stage and season in life: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

How does this Bible passage speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Also read Why are there different views on the value of the Bible

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Biblword is a ministry of GlobalRize. Marten Visser is the founding director of GlobalRize. Marten is a pastor from The Netherlands with long years of experience as a missionary in Thailand. We now have around 200 people from all over the world involved in GlobalRize’s ministry. Besides the English page, Biblword also exists in 13 other languages on Facebook.

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Is the Bible inappropiate for children?