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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 18:06


It IS uplifting, providing you accept the premise that Jesus came to defeat sin.

BertrandRussell · 26/11/2019 18:23

Blimey @SaraNade! That really is an extraordinarily ignorant post....

Patte · 26/11/2019 18:26

Adam blames Eve for his own sin. That's the first result of the fall, trying to dodge blame and pass it on to someone else. (Eve then blames the snake.) I don't see the sexism, unless it's Adam's (so maybe sexism also is an immediate result of sin?)

And yes, as PPs have said, without sin there's no point to the Nativity. Christ didn't come to earth for fun, or to be a cute baby (in fact only two of the gospels actually mention his birth).

Brian9600 · 26/11/2019 18:29

Any feminist older DDs (or DSs) who are interested in the Fall and its relation to women might like to listen to a talk by Anne Enright called The Genesis of Blame. It's brilliant. The podcast and video are both online.

Anonanonanonanonanonanonanon · 26/11/2019 18:33

I’d encourage people to read the actual text, and see what it says for yourselves (there’s no apple for a start). It’s hard to read without viewing it through the layers of history that have accumulated since it was first written, but I think the text itself is remarkably egalitarian as between the sexes, whatever nefarious purposes it may have been put to since.

reluctantbrit · 26/11/2019 19:12

I just wonder how many of the children, and as the OP’s child is only 10, I assume we are talking about primary age, will understand the idea behind this passage and what it hs to do with Christmas.

It is a non-church school and therefore I assume they do have the daily act of worship and RE lessons. How much of the concept of “original sin” will be covered in that in Reception or Y1 or even later years.

Such a passage in a secondary school, yes with a good discussion and preparation in RE. I could imangine DD’s head, a very open feminist, would love to use this passage for assembly with a talk afterwards.

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 19:28

You were being snide! The fact that it's not a widely known service isn't the point - would you think it's ok to mock any religious practice that isn't widespread?

FWIW, it's not really an 'interpretation of the Bible'. It's a service.

The version they do at King's College, Cambridge, is broadcast and regularly watched by audiences of millions across the world, by the way. So for a very minority service, it does have a certain amount of pull.

Sherbertx · 26/11/2019 19:32

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

No it really does not.

ForalltheSaints · 26/11/2019 19:37

A carol service is about the birth of Christ and those who visited our Lord after his birth. YANBU to think that Genesis is not the most appropriate reading.

BertrandRussell · 26/11/2019 19:39

Interesting. I can see why Christians might want to stick to the cuddly baby narrative- but surely atheists would want their kids to know the whole story- warts (or snakes) and all?

SarahAndQuack · 26/11/2019 19:45

Carols weren't originally to do with Christmas, though. That's why some of them don't seem particularly Christmassy (eg., Adam Lay).

LiveFatsDieYoGnu · 26/11/2019 19:53

A carol service is about the birth of Christ and those who visited our Lord after his birth.

But surely a huge part of the significance of the birth of Christ comes in what went before - the foreshadowing, the prophecies, and ultimately the events in the garden of Eden.

churchandstate · 26/11/2019 19:54

A carol service is about the birth of Christ and those who visited our Lord after his birth. YANBU to think that Genesis is not the most appropriate reading.

It’s not.

Look at the lyrics of We Three Kings or Oh Holy Night. The songs are often about the redemptive power of the Christmas miracle. The cost, as well as the gift.

Xenia · 26/11/2019 20:06

reluctant, but I see that as the point - that we expose primary age school children to all kinds of things they may find hard, have them sing glorious church music in parts in Latin, expose them to very complex story lines, do the opposite of dumbing down and their lives are all the better for it. Challenge and stretch them

reluctantbrit · 26/11/2019 20:41

@xenia I just think that such a reading without any explanation about it will just go over the head of most children unless they are practising religion with their family.

I am all for Introducing difficult passages to DD who is brought up without religion at home. We actively encourage her to learn about religion to enable her to make her own decisions as an adult. But if such a passage would just be read at a school service she would just listen to it with more questions raised than being able to relate it to the Christmas/nativity story. As I said, if the school explains the connection all the better.

MrsTerryPratchett · 26/11/2019 20:56

It IS uplifting, providing you accept the premise that Jesus came to defeat sin.

But if you don't, it's a clear and obvious example of the patriarchy's control over women, religion being an integral part of that. A mandate to abuse women when things go wrong. So festive, so inclusive.

It's simple to include traditional cultural stuff in celebrations without a whole ton of sexist nonsense. 'Middle Eastern family not welcome but someone helped them, awww cute baby' is a great story. For everyone.

It's really not OK that Christianity is shoved into all schools and parents are told to exclude their own children if they don't like it. Actually atheist, Muslim, Jewish children should all be given reading that don't actively go against their beliefs. That doesn't seem overly picky to me!

churchandstate · 26/11/2019 21:12


But the point is, you’re free to think it’s nonsense. But to the people whose religion is being celebrated, it isn’t. So the basics of respect say you step back, allow them to select their own texts and celebrate their own tenets, and accept that you’re not the expert. And if you can’t, don’t go. Confused

TheHodgeoftheHedge · 26/11/2019 21:12

For those of you thinking the Christmas story should be all nice and fluffy, did you forget it included the story of Herod and his slaughter of infant children?!

WhatisFreddoingnow · 26/11/2019 21:35

Of all the verses in the Bible, you have a problem with this one?! This thread has made me smile.

Seriously though, I think it is a rather beautiful passage showing that even when turning away from God, God told us that there would be a saviour. The point of the passage is that there would be a new Adam and Eve (Jesus and Mother Mary).

Many Christian (and majority of Catholics) view the stories in Genesis as allegory not literal truth. We believe there was an Adam and Eve but these could have been the first humans ensouled by God, developed language, morality etc.

BTW, the whole joy of Christmas is that Jesus (God) was born to die for our sins. We're not celebrating just the birth of a baby but God becoming man to die for our sins. Easter is actually far more important in the liturgical calender. Watering it down to just a cute story about a baby being born totally misses the point and theology of the Christian festival.

9toenails · 26/11/2019 22:11

It sounds like something someone sat down and fabricated for a laugh

Yes, exactly right. Most (all?) religions are like that when reduced to essentials, are they not?

... that simply isn’t what Christianity is.
I disagree. Christianity its belief set, its genesis is exactly 'like something someone sat down and fabricated for a laugh'.

My children grew up in a society that did not impose religion on its school pupils. They enjoyed Bible stories as they enjoyed other fairy tales. And, whilst always careful not to offend others, as they grew up they became more and more aghast at the risible nonsense (as they saw it) people claimed to believe by way of religion. It really does seem such silly nonsense once you get outside it all.

That is not to say we should avoid or cause our children to avoid such things as 9lessons&carols, or indeed psalms sung at Evensong -- or, Heaven forfend, JS Bach's wonderful Passions and Cantatas. And so on. Not simply 'Tradition'; some of this expresses human sensibility at its highest and most valuable. Complicated, no?

But (again, taking care over the feelings of others with perhaps a less enlightened upbringing) it is good to have a bit of a giggle with children over talking snakes, angels with flaming swords, plagues of frogs, and all the other stuff.

After all, taking religion too seriously, history teaches us, has generally been a bad idea.

(Btw, churchandstate, we seem to disagree about reductio ad absurdum. I think it a useful (and valid) form of argument; not really a 'problem' as you suggest. I wonder what you mean?)

Hopoindown31 · 26/11/2019 22:53

The ‘nine lessons’ is something I have never heard mentioned until today.

OP, your ignorance is no-one else's problem but yours.

You are in England and this is a well established part of the Anglican tradition in advent for well over 100 years. Complaining about it will not change that fact.

SarahNade · 27/11/2019 00:53

@BertrandRussell How is it ignorant? What the OP described is better suited to Easter, not Christmas. Christmas is solely about the birth of Jesus. Not at all about sin. Easter - is about sin. And how Jesus died for our sins. I think it's ignorant to suggest otherwise. I have never heard of any such thing performed at Christmas in any school (then again, state schools here don't tend to discuss Jesus or religion, just secular Santa Claus).


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SarahNade · 27/11/2019 00:57

@Hopoindown31 Why would you assume the OP is in England? That is rather ignorant.

Hopoindown31 · 27/11/2019 01:26

@sarahnade true she maybe in Wales or Scotland although far more likely to be in England really.

The nine lessons and carols was invented by a Cornish bishop to try and get more people out of the pub and into church. The readings were selected to give a flash tour of the Bible from the fall of man to the birth of the saviour for those who may not often see the inside of a church.

Although Anglicans do not have exactly the same concept of original sin as some other denominations our flawed nature from Adam onwards is part of the 39 articles and so it is an important part of understanding why Jesus came down from heaven to die for our sins in our denomination. You might not agree with the Anglican tradition, but presuming to say that it has no basis or that it is ignorant of the true meaning of Christmas (or more correctly advent) puts you at odds with a great many Anglican Christians I'm afraid.

ArgumentativeAardvaark · 27/11/2019 01:45

Can someone explain about the bruised heels please ?

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