Last year my youngest daughter (she was nine at the time) came to me and told me she was going to try to read through the Bible. I gave her my hearty approval without a second thought. Not too many days later she came to me with her Bible and said, “Mommy, I don’t like this story.” She was pointing to verses in Genesis 19. The verses tell the story of Lot’s scheming daughters getting him drunk and sleeping with him in their efforts to preserve their family.
My first reaction was one of grief for my daughter. Like any mother, I don’t’ like my children to be upset. BUT…I also know that grief – sometimes in pretty hefty doses – is part of this life. So, my next reaction was one of relief. A couple of very positive things were happening in this interaction. First, my daughter came to me with her concern. As a very imperfect parent, I think it’s an amazingly cool act of God’s grace when my children come to me with their concerns. Second, she recognized that this story reveals some seriously scary things about the human heart. That her young mind could grasp this truth was also an incredible grace. These two good things led to the best part of all – an opportunity to talk about the gospel, the good news that Jesus came to live, die and live again for people like Lot and his daughters, for people like her and me.
I share this story because lately I’ve had more than the usual number of opportunities to consider these kinds of stories and situations. I’ve been thinking about how the Bible is full of stories of sin: murder, rape, adultery, immorality, coveting, lying, etc., etc. My church’s book study group has been reading through some of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. Like stories in the Bible, O’Connor uses dark and grotesque situations and language to contrast the beauty of God’s grace. Other authors and screenwriters do this, as well, but Miss O’Connor specifically stated this as her purpose in writing. On March 31st I also blogged about the use of grotesque language in music.
It might seem better, and it might be easier, to make no place in my life or my children’s lives for such stories, movies, and songs; but, to extract them from our lives seems to me a denial of the power of the gospel. “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.” (Romans 9:22, 23)
I don’t ever want to condone gratuitous sex, violence and profanity. I do want to thoughtfully consider the Bible’s example in presenting stories that show sin and sin’s consequence for what they are. I don’t ever want to expose my children to stories they’re not mature enough to handle, but I also don’t want to censor them from ones which, when they are ready, will further their understanding of God’s grace and help them become discerning adults. Indeed, there is more than a “Lot” at stake.