Yesterday our church kicked off its annual Vacation Bible School. I love VBS and look forward to helping out every year. In year’s past I’ve done a lot of the upfront activities including the story time. This year I was happy to pass off the story time to a much more gifted teacher. Now I don’t have to worry about accidentally telling one of these inappropriate VBS stories.
Elisha and the Bear
I’ve written about this story before because it’s one of my favorites. In 2 Kings 2 some youth make fun of Elisha for being bald. He calls down a curse upon them and a bear mauls 42 of them. It’s possible that these weren’t just some harmless kids but a gang of young men looking to cause trouble. In light of the threat of a gang, God used Stephen Colbert’s arch nemeses to protect Elisha. Either way, I wouldn’t want to see the fear in a group of kids’ eyes as they worry about every time they laughed at someone with no hair or someone who fell down. Kids need to learn to be nice and not make fun of other people, but making them scared that a bear is going to attack them probably isn’t the best way to do that.
Hosea and Gomer
The Bible is filled with prostitutes, which shows that God’s grace is open to everyone and that we should treat all people with honor and respect. The stories of women like Rahab and Mary Magdalene, who leave their sinful lives, are very encouraging. Even stories like that, though, aren’t great for VBS. No parent wants to hear their young child scream, “I learned what a prostitute is,” when they get into the hybrid crossover. The story of Hosea and Gomer raises even more questions. God used Hosea like some sort of meta-art project. Israel had been prostituting themselves with other gods so God tells Hosea to marry the prostitute, Gomer. The Bible doesn’t tell us if Gomer left her business behind when she married Hosea. If she didn’t that would make for an awkward VBS story time; how do you explain why there are so many men flannel graph characters around the Gomer flannel graph?
David and Bathsheba
David and Bathsheba is both one of the most tragic stories in the Bible and one of the most redemptive. It’s tragic because the man after God’s own heart starts down a dark road that ends in adultery and murder. It’s redemptive because David shows why he is a man after God’s own heart with his complete and total repentance. Even though it’s a great Bible story, I don’t think it would make a great VBS story. Elementary kids don’t need to learn that early about adultery, lying and murder; that’s a lot of Desperate Housewives shenanigans for an audience that should be watching Bubble Guppies. More upsetting than all the sex and violence, though, is the poor little sheep who gets slaughtered by the rich guy. Kids love animals and don’t need to see them mercilessly killed.
Even though these stories may be inappropriate for VBS, they are very appropriate for us. All of the ugly, sad and broken stories in the Bible show us that God is willing to redeem, reuse and reshape all of us. That’s an important message for kids to hear but, until they get older, it’s probably better to use stories with less sex, violence and bear attacks.
What other Bible stories would be inappropriate for VBS?