18 Bible Stories Parents Might Want to Rethink for Kids

SharePinEmailBiblical stories have inspired and motivated us for years, acting as a guiding force in our lives. However, there is also a darker side to biblical narratives, especially for children who are exposed to them in their early years. Instil Fear in Children Many passages in the bible highlight harsh punishments for disobedience, such as…

Biblical stories have inspired and motivated us for years, acting as a guiding force in our lives. However, there is also a darker side to biblical narratives, especially for children who are exposed to them in their early years.

Instil Fear in Children

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Many passages in the bible highlight harsh punishments for disobedience, such as in Exodus 20:1 when God says: “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death” (Ex 21:17). Children may get scared about betraying their parents as it teaches children that they are intrinsically evil.

Depicts Women as Weak

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Young people reading or listening to biblical stories for the first time are exposed to women such as Eve or Mary Magdalene. These figures are portrayed as submissive and obedient rather than strong-willed and capable. This can lead young girls and boys to believe that men should hold all the power. 

Separates Different Groups of People

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Stories in the Bible often place a clear division between different types of people such as in Deuteronomy 7:3: “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.” Children who are subjected to these stories may think it is wrong to socialize with people from different backgrounds which can go against the idea of inclusivity.

Promotes Unrelenting Obedience

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While there should be some level of obedience to their parents from children, many stories in the Bible preach about being obedient to authority without ever questioning it. For example: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1). These lessons can be detrimental to a child’s mindset as it tells them that they should obey authority figures, even if they are in the wrong.

Glorifies Perfectionism

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The Holy Book contains many stories of saints and prophets who have unrealistic character attributes, which children can find difficult to measure up to. For example, in Matthew 5:48 we are told: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Kids who hear this are likely to suffer from low self-esteem as they are encouraged to set impossible standards for themselves.

Features Violent Themes

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No child should be exposed to violence in any capacity, especially as their minds are still developing. Biblical stories such as Noah’s Ark and the destruction of Sodom involve mass death and violence which can leave young people with mental scars. This can also result in children being more brutal in adulthood as children from religious families can grow up to be less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households.

Discourages Individual Thinking

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Children should be appreciated and hailed for being unique and having a voice on certain topics. Yet, some stories in the Bible such as in Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” promote unquestioning faith. This can damage children as they are dissuaded from developing their own thoughts.

Places an Emphasis on Predetermination

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Biblical stories contain many ideas about predestination such as in Ephesians 1:11: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him.” Children who are exposed to these stories may feel trapped by this idea, fearing that they have no control over what happens to them in the future. As a result, they may feel unmotivated to go after their dreams and ambitions.

Obscures Reality

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There is a fine line between reality and fiction, which is hard to separate for children. Biblical narratives tend to be metaphorical as we see in Revelation 21:1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” This can lead to confusion for kids who can’t separate metaphors from reality.

Contains Messages of Guilt and Shame

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Guilt and shame are prominent themes in the Bible, with stories such as Adam and Eve promoting feelings of sinfulness. Children who are impressionable may interpret these stories as a reflection of themselves, internalizing shame which can impact their mental health. As a result, children who are regularly exposed to biblical stories may perform less well academically.

Supports the Idea of Salvation

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When reading the Bible, you are likely to come across many passages relating to being saved or rewarded. For example, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). Children who hear stories like these may feel like they have no other option than to subscribe to these beliefs instead of cultivating their own opinions.

Discourages Mental Development

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Certain stories in the Bible adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, dissuading readers and listeners from following their own intuition such as in John 14:15: “If you love me, keep my commands.” When children take in this information, they are likely to avoid forming their own belief system, which can stunt their development.

Includes False Information

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As the Bible was written a long time ago, there are specific stories that aren’t entirely accurate or true to the historical context. Many claim the Bible is an unreliable authority because it contains numerous contradictions. For instance: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged itself on its enemies.” (Joshua 10:13). Preaching these stories to children as fact can be confusing and damaging to them as they can find it difficult to separate fact and fiction in their adult lives.

Makes Miracles Seem Normal

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Miracles take place in the Bible, mainly to teach people a moral lesson. Often, miracles are included to show the power of God as in Matthew 19:26: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” However, children hearing this for the first time might believe that miracles are possible in everyday life, giving them a distorted view of the world.

Reiterates the Importance of Virtue

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Virtue is accentuated in many stories in the bible such as: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Children may become anxious, striving towards being virtuous above all else.

Juxtaposes Good and Evil

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Good and evil are prevalent concepts in the Bible and there is a clear line between them. However, modern social righteousness often differs from the righteousness of the Bible. These binary opposites can lead children to struggle to find a middle ground in their lives, making them believe they are evil if they make a small mistake.

Advocates for Retributive Justice

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Retributive justice is plain to see in many Biblical narratives such as: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” (Matthew 5:38). This can be harmful to children as it encourages them to adopt a punitive approach to justice.

Paints Hell as a Wretched Place

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Going to hell is something that many religious people fear. But, it can be far more traumatizing for children who are naturally inclined to be more fearful. These exaggerated depictions can keep children up at night as they are scared about what awaits them after death.

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