An earlier article of mine said that “I’m OK with Sunday School for a young child because there are some good life lessons.” I’m afraid that I under-estimated the depth of the modern religious training’s indoctrination program.
First, I could find no arguments on the internet for NOT taking young children to Sunday School. Again, my experiences (many, many moons ago) where vaguely pleasant with some singing and coloring and cutting paper out. I can’t tell you how much I took seriously, I was five at the time. But, I suspect, that many churches have a much more… rigorous Sunday School program. So I thought I would investigate a few lessons and then report on if I thought they were appropriate for children and could still give good life lessons.
I visited this web site (Ministry to Children) and was rather appalled. On their homepage was this lesson “Bible Lesson: Changing Seasons and an Unchanging God”.
Well, I know that’s BS. Have these people ever read the Bible? I mean, that’s kind of the entire point of Jesus… to change how God looks at humans and blood sacrifice. Personally, I suspect it has more to do with the changing culture in the Middle East, but I digress.
In a way, I can understand this and I’m trying to be unbiased here. For example, we don’t teach middle school students about Einstein’s equations. Even though we know that Newton’s equations are wrong in extreme conditions, we still teach them because in most cases they are a good approximation and the student’s just don’t have the background skills for Einstein’s work.
Still, it seems to me to be a bit of a stretch to talk about an unchanging God when you might get lessons on Jericho, Sodom and Gomorrah, and then compare those to the woman at the well and turn the other cheek. Pedagogically, I would think that would be confusing. Because Newton still works most of the time, it’s a valuable tool. Saying that God is unchanging kind of undermines the entire New Testament.
Keep in mind, I’m not a Bible scholar or theologian. I’m just a guy trying to make sense of some things as I understand them.
I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable with a 5-6 year-old being taught this material in this fashion.
Looking some more, I found this lesson “How to honor your father” and it just straight away pissed me off.
Maybe it’s supposed to be a “Father’s Day lesson”, but they are effectively ignoring half of the Bible verse they are supposed to be talking about. Yeah guys, “Mother” is in there too.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. “ Exodus 20:12
There are some fundamental concepts in the lesson that are just wrong. First of all, I don’t want my kid to ‘honor’ me because he’s afraid of sinning. That’s not honor, that’s fear and teaching small children (the lesson suggests this for 4-12 year-olds) is wrong. Small children are especially vulnerable to comments by authority figures (of course, that’s why churches want them young). Teaching them to fear is not how to teach them to think. Sometimes, mom and dad are wrong. Apparently, even Jesus and God are wrong too. That’s in the Bible.
Personally speaking, if my kid can articulate a good reason for not doing what I say, then I’m willing to accept it. I hope most parents are like this.
But let’s talk about Jesus a minute. This lesson specifically mentions how perfect Jesus perfectly obeyed his father. It also specifically mentions that Joseph was his father. Except for…
 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.  After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Does anyone think that Jesus was never told to stay with mom and dad? To follow them home? To not wander off without permission? Really? If so, then Mary and Joseph where crummy parents, but they must have been good enough for God. So, did Jesus disobey?
Who knows what myths do? It’s a story and that’s all it is. Of course, under the old laws, Joseph would have been within his rights to stone Jesus at that point for disobeying, but I digress.
But again, we have a situation where children are being taught one thing which is contradictory to what they will be taught later. I remembered this story from my time in Sunday school. They used it to show that even kids can be powerful witnesses for God. But it’s opposed to what is being taught elsewhere and that’s very poor pedagogy.
Back to the Newton example. Newton’s equations and rules work fine for most things. It’s not like Newton’s equations give completely different results from Einstein’s. Just under very specific (and well understand) conditions Newton doesn’t work as well as Einstein.
So, I’ve become opposed to this idea… at least until my boy is fully capable of rational thinking and can make critical judgments.
Again, I don’t think that these are biased comments. I do think that the lessons presented (in this admittedly short survey) do present concepts that are fundamentally opposite to those taught to adults and theologians. I can teach Einstein to middle school students in a way they understand.