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To think this is an inappropriate passage of the Bible for a school Christmas service?

262 replies

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 14:59

DD10 has been asked to do a reading at the school’s Xmas carol service.

The passage is Genesis 3: 8-15:

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." “

I’m not impressed. Surely they could have chosen other (NT) passages where the focus is not on original sin (and don’t blame a woman for it 🧐)?

I’m an atheist, but was raised a Catholic and I have no objection to DD taking part in the service. I have been to countless midnight masses (Xmas services where I’m from) and I’m sure the Genesis was never the focus.

IABU to think this is not appropriate for a Christmas service?

OP posts:
picklemepopcorn · 26/11/2019 15:41

That is a classic Christmas reading, deeply traditional. I read it in a cathedral when I was six for my schools carol service!

churchandstate · 26/11/2019 15:43

I’m not saying it did stop you.

Lifecraft · 26/11/2019 15:47

I just googled Ezekiel 23: 19-20. Grin

Just delightful isn't it. The bible, hours of fun for all the family!

9toenails · 26/11/2019 15:53

It seems to me important to put this sort of thing in context. Perhaps the school, or failing that, parents themselves, could first explain to children about the tenets of the religion in question.

For example, here is a simple but accurate definition of what 'Christianity' is:
Christianity : The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Once children understand the context of the overall story, the Bible telling of parts of it can then follow naturally.

(King James Authorised Version would always be my choice for Bible translation. I do not know if everyone would agree, but ime children love the orotund language as well as the crazy stories.)

Xenia · 26/11/2019 15:57

This is one of the standard first verses at advent services. Those who do not use it are the ones who are at fault surely for damaging traditions - it is a fascinating passage and well worth consideration.

(And I always liked hearing about the naked bits when I was little anyway - makes the services mor interesting)

churchandstate · 26/11/2019 15:58


The problem with that view is that it is an example of reductio ad absurdum. It doesn’t help the children to locate what they are reading in any of its actual contexts. It sounds like something someone sat down and fabricated for a laugh, and that simply isn’t what Christianity is.

reluctantbrit · 26/11/2019 15:59

I find this quite a unusual reading for a non-denominational school. Ours was one and all readings for Christmas or Easter Service were a lot more child friendly. Even the CoE primary my friends are sending their DCs to are more focused on the nativity story for Christmas.

Passages like this one were reserved for RE and then appropriately discussed.

I think the school is unlikely to change it so I would sit down with my child and discuss the paragraph and its implications. I would ask the school to talk about the passage in RE and why it has been chosen for the service.

wanderings · 26/11/2019 16:00

Speaking of inappropriate Bible passages: with the ubiquitous Bible story of Joseph, which I remember being bored stiff of by the age of 7, I noticed that teachers always glossed over one thing... why was Joseph put in prison? How do you explain that to young children? Wink

DebbieDowner456 · 26/11/2019 16:03

That is the first reading at a standard carol service. I read it myself at my school's (Protestant) carol service 20 years ago, as a Year 7 student.

Shooturlocalmethdealer · 26/11/2019 16:04

Any message from the Bible is not inappropriate.

Babybel90 · 26/11/2019 16:06

I think it’s a pretty central part of the whole Christian thing so the kids may as well hear it, perhaps they can then make their pens minds up as to whether they think a snake persuaded a woman to eat and apple and whether that should be a punishable crime, to be honest I think the more kids hear directly from the bible the less likely they are to believe it.

NearlyGranny · 26/11/2019 16:07

It's the first of the 9 lessons from the hugely popular lessons and carols service! The carols change but the lessons don't. It's the story of fall and redemption; a narrative arc across both Testaments. Magnificent.

School will not be changing this for you, no way, but of course you can refuse to have your DD do the reading. No doubt there will be someone to do it almost as well as she would have done. Will she understand, do you think?

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 16:11
OP posts:
Nettleskeins · 26/11/2019 16:13

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is a powerful message about jealousy, Sleeping Beauty is a powerful message about leaving someone out and the damage that does, Narnia is a powerful message about redemption. But on the surface they are all pretty unrealistic and fanciful. Why shouldn't your dd treat the story of Adam and Eve as a powerful message about anger and disobedience and ultimate forgiveness through baby...etc. It may seem ludicrous and vindictive but it is a very dramatic visceral story, much like baby Jesus being a very visceral story that people of faith and otherwise identify with, without it making them necessarily believers or Christians. We all get the idea of someone important being angry and consequences. Yes it is scary and frightening. Is that why you find it upsetting and inappropriate at Christmas? Christmas is a story full of violent overtones anyway..homelessless, mother possibly being an outcast, Herod, baby destined to cannot deodorise it. And if your dd is interested in drama this is the perfect passage.

SirTobyBelch · 26/11/2019 16:14

The fall is key part of Christianity. Without it there would have been no need for a redeemer. Can't see what the problem is.

Devereux1 · 26/11/2019 16:15

I'm a little confused OP. You say you don't want her to read this passage because of your personal values and you're a staunch atheist. But you're happy for her to read from something which you don't find at all interesting to read (even to disagree with and be against), and your personal values are ok with that.

We don't have to agree with everything for something to be interesting. I'm very surprised you wouldn't even find the Bible interesting to read, given what a massive role it has played in the world, whether you follow it or not. I don't, by the way, but has part of keeping myself informed it really is a fascinating read imo.

CatteStreet · 26/11/2019 16:16

'It's the first of the 9 lessons from the hugely popular lessons and carols service! The carols change but the lessons don't. It's the story of fall and redemption; a narrative arc across both Testaments. Magnificent.'

This! If they're following the 9 lessons format, it has to be in there.

Nettleskeins · 26/11/2019 16:17

And it isn't Ezekiel. After all the Catholic Church makes a point of picking some passages and not others in the Liturgical calendar and the priest was expected to explain what the point of the passages were in the homily.

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 16:23

You see, if you are Christian (as I was raised), I don’t think you need to be reminded of the fall at every opportunity. It’s part of what you already know about your faith. It’s part of the Credo - you know that story by heart.
The Christmas service (certainly in my catholic tradition at least) is not meant to replace a full Sunday school education - but to focus on the joyful part of baby Jesus being born. There is plenty of good story telling in the NT to cover this, without the need to revisit the fall (in the Genesis).
Anyways, as I said above, I understand it’s standard and we will ride along with it.

OP posts:
churchandstate · 26/11/2019 16:28

As a Catholic, I can find no issue with reminding worshippers of why Jesus was born. It’s integral.

I get that you want a nice service, but that really isn’t the sole purpose of a Christmas service. It’s not “ooh look at the lovely baby”. It’s “Joy of joys - we no longer need to fear original sin.”

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 16:29

And just because it is part of the “nine lessons” (whoever set those) doesn’t mean we cannot be critical of the inclusion of certain verses, especially when they are blatantly sexist. Tradition does not trump everything. The nativity story does not need the bit where Eve is blamed for evil visiting Eden. It makes sense without it.

OP posts:
churchandstate · 26/11/2019 16:30

Tradition does not trump everything.

Erm... I think in Christianity it does.

The nativity story does not need the bit where Eve is blamed for evil visiting Eden. It makes sense without it.

It doesn’t.


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Watsername · 26/11/2019 16:36

I think it has served its purpose exactly - it has made you think! Christmas isn't just a warm fuzzy story. Jesus came to earth to deal with sin. Miss that bit out and there is no point telling the story at all - nothing to celebrate.

Anonanonanonanonanonanonanon · 26/11/2019 16:39

Nowhere in the Genesis story is "Eve blamed for evil visiting Eden" - the only person who points the finger at Eve is Adam, and he's just trying to weasel out of his own part in the debacle. The thrust of the story is that the man and the woman are equal before God, then equally guilty and equally punished.

And if you can't appreciate an allegory when you see it, then you are seriously lacking in imagination.

Devereux1 · 26/11/2019 16:42

@RevolutionofOurTime "especially when they are blatantly sexist. Tradition does not trump everything. The nativity story does not need the bit where Eve is blamed for evil visiting Eden. It makes sense without it."

I'm sure the nativity story doesn't need Mary being 'raped' by a spirit (she did not consent, this act of rape is much discussed by theologians by the way), the 3 Kings (why no Queens?) etc but it is what it is.

I do hope you're not suggesting editing/mis representation of material to please delicate little stomachs?

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