by J. Ann Craig
Welcome to the spiritual growth study on children of the Bible. Four very special authors shared in creating this study. They invite us to explore a range of difficult, inspiring, curious, and even shocking stories about children in the Bible.
Chidrens Voices And Viewpoints
Children were often inserted into Bible stories as objects to make a point to adults. Even our favorite stories about children who became great leaders, such as Moses and Jesus, were written long after the fact to make a strong case for their leadership.
"But," we might ask, "what's wrong with that?" Nothing is wrong with using children as object lessons, but children are also interesting people and have their own perspective. Children's view of life is often overlooked because it is assumed that "they don't understand" or "they don't have enough experience." Yet engagement in a child's life can lead to an additional level of relationship with children-and with texts written about them-that can be rewarding.
Adults do need to assume certain ethical responsibilities to children, which include pro- tecting them. Only adults can deal with the shocking realities of children without health care, children enslaved in prostitution or rug making, children who suffer obesity from a diet of French fries and soft drinks, children who are shot in schools. Adults owe a lot of oversight to children, but there is also a need for adults to relate to chil- dren as human beings. Because of the distance of time and culture, there are few models for such relationships in our Bible.
Moreover, while adults may be withholding certain information because children seem "too young" to deal with it, children are busy making ethical decisions in their own lives. Even in a "best-case scenario," adult efforts to protect chil-dren are often undermined by worldly influences on children from the media, peer pressure, school cultures, and events of historical proportion" such as war, unemployment, and homelessness.
Globally, AIDS has forced orphaned children to take care of other children. Slave labor, the sex trade, war, and poverty combine to steal all sem- blance of childhood from too many children. In Mrican civil wars, child soldiers carry automatic weapons, and their survival depends on their will- ingness to kill other children as well as adults.
The most horrific experiences of children in our times may seem remote, but even children who do not appear to be troubled sometimes pro- tect the adults in their lives because they think adults couldn't handle the truth. They are bur- dened with assaults, peer pressures, family secrets, or health issues that would challenge any adult. We might hear these stories in hints and snippets, but we must guess at the details. Likewise in the Bible, the stories of children are often sketchy.
The children in the BIble had a context of their own, but we hear their stories through the voices of adults. No wonder there is a multitude of missing details. Are we hearing the voices of the children of our own day?
Whatever approach you take to the Stories of Children of the Bible keep in mind that you were once a 'child. Remember your own childhood throughthe stories.
Remember the adults who made a difference for better or for worse. In the Bible there are both ous and painful stories, just as in our own lives. When you cheer or weep for children in the Bible, remember that Christ would have each of us become like a child. He called us to be born again-to become newborns. It makes sense to understand Children ovthe Bible and the children in our lives as keys,to new dimension of faith.