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.
Voices And Viewpoints
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
"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.
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?
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.