Yesterday I shared about my recent method for teaching the kids in my church. Rather than just telling them more Bible stories, I have structured my lessons to be focused more on answering questions they have. The results have been quite favourable for a variety of reasons.
Today, I want to tell you about Sunday School this last week. I was given the reins to the 3rd-5th grade class, but I did not have much time to prepare something. My good friend Drew Baby (if you don’t know who that is, yeah, that’s his nickname) also joined me in class.
I asked the kids, “So, do you have any questions that you would like to talk about?” After a brief silence, one girl asked, “If you watch or read something that is scary is it sinful?” She was referring to horror movies, books that contain violence, etc.
Wow…and thus we began.
That’s a great question! I started by going around and asking each of the kids what they thought and why. One girl gave a very insightful response: “Jesus dying on the cross was scary, and that’s not sinful.”
Lastly, I asked Drew Baby what he thought, and he gave a great answer, saying that we should filter everything through the list that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:8. So we opened our Bibles to Philippians 4 and started working through that list.
We came to the conclusion that the biblical account of Jesus’ death is true (it actually happened), honest (it presents the situation as it really happened), just (it involved a payment for sin), pure (Jesus was holy and did not sin by dying), lovely (it shows God’s love for us), and of good report (it is an essential part of the Gospel). So Jesus’ death is something that is okay for us to read about or watch in movies.
But a horror movie? Most of the time those aren’t true or honest because they are fake (and when they happen in real life, people can’t believe someone would actually commit such acts of wickedness). They are never just or pure or lovely or of good report. So, therefore, we shouldn’t think on those things, and we definitely should not be entertained by them. So yes, watching or reading that kind of scary material is probably sin.
This led to a discussion about whether it was okay to watch or read about wars, like the violence and fighting that took place in World War II. This led one of the boys to ask, “Is it wrong to play shooting games?” So once again, we walked through Philippians 4:8, and he came to the conclusion that those games are not good.
“But if my parents say it’s okay to play those games, is it okay because I’m not disobeying them?” Man, the questions just keep coming! We discussed how we do not have to play certain games just because we have permission to.
We also talked about how some of these video games also have bad language, not just violence. What happens when we are exposed to a lot of bad language? What if we hear people swearing in another language that we don’t understand?
More questions ensued…
“What about books that have swearing in them?”
“Is it bad to watch superhero movies?”
“Batman kills people!”
“What if you have a relative who keeps swearing?”
I wish I could just give you a recording of that whole class hour. It was fantastic, and it was great to see them wrestle with their own conclusions as they considered the truth of God’s Word. There are so many things we enjoy doing, but are they always good? At what point do things become sinful?
All that to say, these kids think deeply, and they have a lot of questions that often go unanswered because we don’t encourage them to speak up and ask them.
We have a great opportunity right now to direct them to Christ in every area of their lives, and we need to take advantage of it by encouraging them to ask questions about difficult things! If we can’t answer them, then it is time that we ask the same questions and search God’s Word for the answers.