In a recent article, I discuss a dangerous new Bible curriculum from Susan Wise Bauer’s Olive Branch Books/Peace Hill Press. I also propose a more accurate, simpler Bible teaching method. Today, I endeavor to answer some common questions regarding teaching the Bible at home.
Do I really need a curriculum?
Absolutely not. All you need to teach the Bible to your child is one copy of Scripture and
one Christian parent. Now, like any other subject of study, there are resources you may find helpful as you study. In our home, we enjoy using our hymnal, a catechism, a Bible charts & maps reference, and a concordance often. Each child owns his own Bible; the older two children use study Bibles. We all read from the same version for consistency.
How do I know what to teach?
Pray about it. Then begin. We are studying through the Bible chronologically in the mornings, a project we began about a year ago. Daddy’s evening readings are currently on the life of David. We have taken breaks from our reading plans to study the Sermon on the Mount, to study the biblical meaning of Thanksgiving, to prepare for Advent, to read on character issues we all need to work on. We have studied the life of Christ, what the Bible says about prayer, and how to lead a friend to the Lord. Teach the Word of God, as the Spirit leads you as parent.
How do I discuss difficult issues, like hell, theology, and adultery (the list goes on) with young children in the room, while being practical for my growing youths?
Pray about it. Use Scripture terminology, then look it up in a good dictionary. We do not dwell on “the fire,” as my 3-year-old calls it, but he already knows and fears it because God mentions it. And whenever my child does, I remind him of Christ’s gift toward us all.
Make theological terminology and passages practical to daily life by showing how the knowledge of God and His working changes who we are and how we come to Him. Remind the child of previous encounters with the same truth. For example, when we met a theophany in our reading of Judges 2 last week, I asked my children, “Who has already seen Christ in the Old Testament?” My 7-year-old son was confused, but his 9-year-old sister and 12-year-old brother reminded him of Abraham’s encounter before the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 18) and Jacob’s wrestling in the night (Genesis 32:30). I reminded the children then that Jesus did not begin in Bethlehem. As God, He always was and is very present in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ created all things (Gen. 1:26, John 1:3) and upholds “all by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). This is the very God who became man for us; this is the very God who died for us; this is the very God who intercedes for us. How exciting!
Morality issues should be dealt with in the frank manner in which the Bible presents it. Use age-appropriate definitions with clear, practical meaning to the child. For example, “adultery” to my young children, as in “thou shalt not commit adultery,” means inappropriate contact with people outside your family. We don’t say “don’t ever kiss and hug,” because Hispanics kiss and hug. And Texans kiss and hug. We don’t want to go beyond what the Scripture means, when God even commends warm brotherly affection at church (Rom. 16:16; 2 Cor. 13:12). Also, even the youngest child knows the difference between such mannerly greetings and marital tokens of love. With such frank, simple definitions of purity, my 12-year-old son easily understood the mature meaning of “adultery” when he and I discussed “how exactly are babies made, Mommy?” Without my prompting, he communicated that he understood the biblical principles he had learned as a young child apply to his marital purity.
What if I fell inadequate to teach the Bible?
In the introduction of Home Educating in Biblical Truth, I share the story of my father leading me to Christ at a very young age. I tell about biblical training my parents gave me, and how that shaped the woman, the wife, and the mother I am today. What I neglected to include was perhaps an important point: my parents had just accepted Christ a few months before I did. Mom and Dad were new Christians when they raised us, and they took some wise steps that made a lasting impact on their family for years to come:
– Regular Church Attendance.
My parents immediately joined a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church. Every Sunday, we sat on the front row of that huge congregation, where Mom and Dad soaked up the teaching and preaching that changed their lives forever. Likewise, my husband leads our family in worshiping at God’s house every week, hearing the truths of Scripture from His servant. Your local church is the first place to find fellowship, encouragement, and exhortation in godly living.
– Bible Study
Right after becoming Christians, my parents studied God’s Word intensively with an older, godly couple. Some people call this “discipleship.” This couple met with my parents regularly and shared the foundational truths of Scripture with them, setting the stage for their future growth. I still remember their coming over, and a necklace they gave me after my own salvation decision. I own my mother’s Bible, now, and her early studies are all marked in red – the plan of salvation, eternal security, God’s plan for the home, and many others clearly and carefully underlined and referenced. The lessons they learned set the stage for the rest of my parents’ lives.
If you need help understanding and applying the Word of God, find a friend to help you. This “walking by the way” learning of Scriptures is God’s plan for personal growth (Titus 2; Acts 18:26).
– Bible Reading
My parents read the Bible all their lives. Through the good times and the bad, when they were sure and when they were searching, together with us children and alone in private – we caught them – they were reading the Word of God. They did not merely read for the Sunday School lessons, the conference speeches, the family devotions, and the church services. Mom and Dad read God’s Word for their own personal lives. My last conversation with my mother on this earth was about God’s Word. The first thing I saw, when I walked into her apartment after her heart attack, was her open Bible atop her mail.
Read God’s Word for yourself. Let it change you, then it will change your family.