See those kids? Oh, man, I love those kids. They climbed on my lap when I sat down at the table to blog. Théoden is still sitting on my lap asking for a "warm drink" of my coffee. 

It is my greatest desire that those little boys, and Lucy (who is sleeping right now), love Jesus and choose to follow Him. And it is a choice they must make someday, a choice Adam and I can encourage them towards and give them a foundation for but cannot make for them. So we think a lot in this household about the Gospel, for ourselves and for sharing it with our first mission field-- our children. 

I'm sure a lot of you do, too.

We talk about the Gospel and we've read Luke and John with them, straight from the Bible. We have Bible storybooks and illustrated children's Bibles that we read together (a current favorite is the Easter story, and the last page is a picture of people in a field and an empty tomb in the background. Sam loves to look at that page and say over and over, "He's not there? Tomb is empty? Jesus is not dead? Jesus is alive. He is not there in dark cave"). 

But you know what's missing from every children's Bible and Bible storybook? 

Jesus being beaten. Sometimes, even the crucifixion. Usually, it's just a page with women and disciples weeping and the text, "Jesus died." The Beginner's Bible at least shows his feet nailed to the cross with his mother nearby. 

I'm not going to throw those books out. They're still good books. It's my responsibility, and my husband's, to share the full story. But the full story is important.

We, as a culture, are squeamish about exposing young kids to violence or ugliness. I understand that. It's distressing. It's dark. We don't even like to think about it. That's why we have movie ratings and consider violence and gore: to protect. But I think it's crucial that we include all the details in the sharing of the Gospel with young kids and I'd like you to consider them with me and maybe comment with your own opinion.

I think, first, that it's worth recognizing our intention in maybe offering our children a "gentler" Gospel, without images of His death or spending much time talking about it. We want to shelter them. That's a good intention. However, this is how I feel about it:

My children will certainly, in their lifetimes, see and experience suffering. As much as it breaks my heart, they will know the ugliness of human nature in themselves and those around them. This is outside of my control. I can shelter them all I want, but even in an environment free of any external cultural pressure, they will find those tendencies to sin and a capacity for cruelty even in themselves.

The beating of Christ was prophesied and His blood works healing and salvation for us. It is a part of the story that showcases the brutal and senseless violence of humanity. It is full of despair and shame, the agony of knowing the whip will rise and fall yet again, the humiliation and bitter pain of the crown of thorns being shoved into flesh and hair. Even writing this, I want to stay the whip and burn the crown. 

But my Savior endured that for me. It is heart-wrenching but, in those moments when I am wretched with my own guilt, it is a balm. The punishment fell on His shoulders and by the grace of God, I am saved. 

Understand I am not advocating a glorification of the violence itself or an obsession with it. But the absence of is, I would even say, dangerous. 

My children will know suffering. When they do, I want the foundation of the Gospel from their childhood to include a Savior who knows and understands what it is like to suffer the worst mankind has to offer. 

I do not need to protect my kids from the full truth of the Gospel and I do not need to protect the Gospel from their questions. 

When we offer our children a gentler, watered-down Gospel, stripped of the suffering and summed up instead in a single, incomprensible line, "Jesus died," we do them a disservice. Young children often do not understand death. They understand much sooner what it feels like to scrape a knee or bump a head or to hear a mean word. If you want to share with your children the Jesus who saves them and heals them, who understands their pain and their guilt and shame and still loves and forgives, give them the full Gospel.

I do not want my children's first exposure to violence and terror and ugliness to be in a video game or a movie, and then to decide at some later point they are "ready" to hear the rest of the story. The rest of the story should be why and how they can handle and process the human deprivation around them and in them as they grow.

They will ask questions. They will be confused by the beating of Christ; it will wound them inside. It breaks my heart to know this, but this is the truth of raising our kids in a fallen world when they are born with a fallen nature. This should wound and offend them and we should work through their questions and confusion about the brutality and what Christ's sacrifice really means. The Word says that whoever falls on this rock of Christ and His Gospel will be broken, but those on whom it falls will be crushed (Matthew 21:42-44). I say one more time:

I do not need to protect my kids from the full truth of the Gospel and I do not need to protect the Gospel from their questions. 

What do you think?