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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:
churchandstate · 26/11/2019 16:42

I think the OP might be one of those people: “I’m a staunch atheist but would like DD to have a starring role in the Nativity. Nothing religious, you have to understand: just tweak it so that Mary is a hairdresser or something, or so that it all takes place under the sea. And P.S. please could someone tell that Francis chap that we’d all find disrespecting his faith a lot more convenient if he relocated back to Avignon.”

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 16:45

It's an absolutely misogynistic passage, with a long misogynistic history. Indeed, for many centuries, the snake was imagined to have a woman's face, too.

The whole concept of Eve being made out of Adam's rib is deeply, deeply responsible for misogynistic constructions of women's bodies and of female sexuality.

I was brought up on the King James Bible and Nine Lessons and Carols, and I take my DD to church fairly regularly.

None of that has prevented me from being a proud feminist, and I've just finished writing a book that starts with a slightly earlier (and, arguably, even more misogynistic) bit of the Adam and Eve story, and shows how it underpins patriarchal discourse.

Meh. I can't get fussed about exposing children to these texts. Teach them to understand and think about them.

BertrandRussell · 26/11/2019 16:45

Genesis 3. can’t remember the exact verses. 2-20? Something like that. The traditional first reading in a 9 Lessons and Carols.

That’s what you get when you sign up to the cult, OP!

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 16:46

(Btw, I sincerely disbelieve that Genesis is indicating that Adam and Eve are equal. Sorry.)

cochineal7 · 26/11/2019 16:51

Take it as an opportunity to engage your daughter in some critical thinking.

Bluerussian · 26/11/2019 16:58

SarahAndQuack Tue 26-Nov-19 16:46:08
(Btw, I sincerely disbelieve that Genesis is indicating that Adam and Eve are equal. Sorry.)
You certainly don't have to be sorry. I agree with you!

It took the devil (serpent) ages to persuade Eve to pick the fruit, loads of psychological manipulation which eventually wore her down.
When Eve suggested Adam take the fruit, he just said, "Oh alright then", straight away.

Eve was vastly superior in my opinion Wink.

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 17:01

Well, it was anonononon I was referring back to, but yes, definitely agree.

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 17:02

Churchandstate 🙄 whatever. Would it be less offensive to you if DD, not being suitably Christian, was excluded from taking part? Is that really in the spirit of Jesus Christ? Or, more importantly, of her right to fully access to the school’s curriculum, bearing in mind the school is not religious? Should I also withdraw my children from Diwali and CNY celebrations? Does taking part mean I have to abdicate any right to critically consider the text that she is asked to read?

There are very many Christian traditions. I made clear from the beginning that I didn’t grow up in the UK and am not familiar with the so called nine lessons. The British church does not have a monopoly on Christmas or on Xmas services- every country has their own traditions.

But yeah, I’m one of “those people “. That’s not very Christian of you, is it?

OP posts:
Aridane · 26/11/2019 17:04

I would defo ask why that has been chosen over others when it obviously has some woman-hating overtone

More snake hating than woman hating Grin

churchandstate · 26/11/2019 17:05


I don’t believe my view of you as “that person” is unChristian. I don’t hate you, I just think your expectations are misaligned with your choices. I would expect you to withdraw her, given your personal principles, but obviously I wouldn’t expect her to be excluded by the school.

I find it confusing that your child’s school is doing a carol service when it’s not religious, but yes, if you object to the tenets of the religion being celebrated as fervently as you say, you should probably take her out because you believe it’s damaging. 🤷🏻‍♀️

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 17:06

Why is the 'so called nine lessons'?

I get that you're not familiar with this tradition, but would you be this weird about details of Diwali or CNY?

I understand being a bit bamboozled why they'd choose that passage if you didn't realise it had origins and wasn't the school's own choice, and I also get (though disagree with) you feeling that it might be inappropriate for children.

I don't get why you need to be snide about the name of a service that's unfamiliar to you, though.

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 17:07

More snake hating than woman hating


The snake gets a bad press, it is true.

Mjlp · 26/11/2019 17:08

My children go to Catholic school and it's the standard first reading for the nine lessons and carols service. It's a bit odd for a nondenominational school to do it though. They usually just do the Nativity.

Devereux1 · 26/11/2019 17:09


Nice clear post.

Toddlerteaplease · 26/11/2019 17:13

I love Adam Lay Y' Bounden. One of my favourite Christmas carols. Along with 'walking in a Garden' at Eastertide.

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 17:20

The ‘nine lessons’ is something I have never heard mentioned until today. It is one interpretation of the bible- as far as I know, it isn’t a central and universal tenet of Christian faith. According to Wikipedia, it started in 1880, so hardly an unmovable tradition. Other than England and a couple of churches in New England, there appears to be nowhere else in the world that has adopted these readings as their standard Christmas service readings.

I’m not being snide.

@churchandstate, where did I say I believe this is damaging DD?

OP posts:
churchandstate · 26/11/2019 17:22

Oh okay, that’s obviously my misunderstanding, OP. I thought that when you compared the Bible to the works of de Sade and said the below, that you meant that you thought the content of the service was somehow harmful:

“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 🧐)?”

But if you don’t object to it, crack on.

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 17:24

Thanks, I’m glad I got your blessing.

OP posts:
churchandstate · 26/11/2019 17:29

Can you see how the confusion has arisen? You’re complaining about this passage on the basis of its misogyny, but you don’t actually have any concerns about your DD reading it out loud? I have to say I don’t get it.

Pipandmum · 26/11/2019 17:30

I doubt any child will be traumatised by hearing this. I was raised Catholic and been to thousands of masses and I am able to reconcile the Bible with real life without any issue. It could be an interesting starting point for discussion.

BertrandRussell · 26/11/2019 17:41

It’s entirely appropriate at a Christmas event!

Xenia · 26/11/2019 17:42

Revoluition, but we are in England so that is the tradition. It is a lovely reading. Of course it is full of issues portrayed in their time but exposing children to that, Shakespeare, Victorian literature, Greek myths, the incest and wicked step mothers and child eating of traditional fairy tales and the like gives them such a wealth of historical background. I remember learning lots of words and their meaning from all these kinds of materials as a child. It did not stop me being a feminist from a very young age.

the worst thing for me was one prep school my boys were at with a carol service where parents would come almost with picnics - obviously they never went to church and had no interest in advance in looking at the rules or standards of the church but if you cannot not eat for 45 minutes that's a shame.

I live ina very mixed area of outer London and we have huge participation carol services and the like of Indian and other parents who want their children to see and know the British traditions and also secular jews in the local schools tend to attend the carol services too although anyone who doesn't want to on religious grounds doesn't have to go. I can think of several muslim parents too. Just as the schools arrange visits to synagogues and the Neasden hindu temple.


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bluebella4 · 26/11/2019 17:46

Huge eye roll!!

campion · 26/11/2019 17:57

For some reason, it's nearly always the youngest reader who gets to read this passage. It's also always totally obvious when they're reading it that they haven't the foggiest clue what it's about! Thus they read it not very well,as far as imparting meaning to the listener is concerned.

It's not the most straightforward of passages of course and is usually beyond the average 10 year old.

Mind you some of the others are a bit baffling as well. 'The weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den' anyone?

So just go along and grit your teeth. Everyone else whose child isn't doing a reading will be there to hear the music. That's the bottom line, I'm afraid.

SarahNade · 26/11/2019 18:04

YANBU That sounds morbid. Christmas is supposed to be joyous! Uplifting. A CELEBRATION. That passage sounds like it would suit the solemnity of Easter and the whole sacrificed Himself for sins thing. It sounds completely and totally out of place for Christmas. What the actual F? It sounds as remote from Christmas as possible. I'd definitely withdraw her from the reading, and most definitely tell them why. Why an absurd, horrid, morbid choice for a celebration! Wow. Confused

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