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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:
SarahNade · 27/11/2019 02:01

@Hopoindown31 I was Christened Anglican and on the occasions Religious Education was held at school for like one term (3 months) per year, (you could choose to go or not go and go study in the library or read books - 'Bludge Session' we called it) I went to the Anglican RE. We learned the original sin thing came after his birth, so is not something we were taught at Christmas. Easter, yes. Never Christmas though. Because Christmas was about Christ's birth, and ONLY his birth. Sin did not come into his birth. It only came into his death. At Easter. So it seems strange celebrating the reasons for his death (died for our sins) at his birth. Just spoke to my mum who was in the Girls' Friendly Society here in Australia, and she has absolutely no idea what this is about, as sin is only discussed at Easter, never at Christmas. Christmas was about Baby Jesus' birth. He didn't die for out sins until some 33 years later. His birth had nothing at all to do with sin. Sin came after his birth, and his death came after sin. So, I really don't get it. Will have to ask my aunt who is the eldest in mum's family and was around 11 when her and mum came out to Australia if it was taught when she was a little girl in England, whenever I next phone her.

CardsforKittens · 27/11/2019 02:02

Many years ago I went to a service of nine lessons and carols where the first reader opened the Bible at the wrong page and read a bit of Leviticus instead. It was a particularly gory passage about how to slaughter a goat and splash it’s blood on the altar. Since then Genesis 3 seems rather tame.

Salvationiseasy · 27/11/2019 02:17

Christmas service? Celebrating the birth of Jesus? Nah, nothing wrong with speaking of original sin, it’s what Jesus died to save us from after all. I just don’t believe in the Catholic Church and their “work’s salvation” Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” - Nobody’s perfect, nobody’s good enough to get to heaven on their own “goodness” Jesus died for all our sins because we couldn’t save ourselves, all we have to do is believe on that promise and ask him to save us. None of this working your way to heaven nonsense. Only problem with the verse is they should be using the King James Version, the newer translations are terrible.

MrsTerryPratchett · 27/11/2019 02:50

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.

But it's school! Not seminary, school. Just because the Church has managed to invegle itself into state schools and the Lords doesn't make it right.

MrsTerryPratchett · 27/11/2019 02:50

Too annoyed to spell check.

WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 06:06

Catholics don't believe in being saved by good works alone either. This is to do with 'Justification' theology and is commonly misunderstood by catholics and protestants. Look into the Council of Trent declarations to better understand the Catholic.

WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 06:11

Can someone explain about the bruised heels please ?

Remember that God is here speaking to Satan, not Eve.Mother Mary is the woman in this passage.

The seed is Jesus. Satan will strike his heel (Jesus will be crucified - an incredibly painful death) but jesus will bruise Satan on the head (through dying, he will redeem us).

After the fall, man was not
abandoned by God. In a mysterious way, God heralds the coming victory over evil and man's restoration from his fall.

SoxiFodoujUmed · 27/11/2019 06:34

it's nine lessons not nine readings.

nine key passages to explain why we are making such a fuss about a particular baby born 2000 years ago. of course it starts with the "story so far" in the 4 millennia or so leading up to Jesus' birth, to explain why this birth is important.

only 4 of the readings are from the old testament and are mostly allegorical. this genesis passage doesn't need to be taken literally to be valuable. it's a story that is about humanity's natural tendency to be self- centred and to choose their own pleasure instead of living according to discipline, and there will always be consequences to that.

subsequent passages, generally using even more allegorical language, lay out thee original covenant between God and Abraham, refer to the constant inability of humanity to stick to this agreement, and some key passages of prophesy that something amazing is going to happen to resolve this mess. without those passages, Jesus is just a baby and nothing worth celebrating.

BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 06:38

I find the idea that sin and death are never to be mentioned at Christmas strange. Surely that’s why Jesus was born- that’s why he is called the Saviour? Apart from anything else it comes up in lots of carols...

longwayoff · 27/11/2019 06:52

You were raised Catholic and have just noticed the misogyny in the Bible? Personal values? You can remove your child from this if you wish.

NearlyGranny · 27/11/2019 07:01

Lovely to see Bishop Benson's service, created for the 'new' Truro Cathedral, being discussed. Truro was the last diocese to be created in England, Cornwall having previously been lumped in with Devon in the Exeter diocese, and the 'new' cathedral was an extension and conversion of an existing parish church.

Wherever English is spoken across the worldwide Anglican Communion you will find this service. It's evidently a much bigger deal than OP realised, hence my certainty that the objection of one parent in one school would not alter the lesson by one jot or tittle!

I do hope you enjoy the service all the more for discovering a bit about it and can trace the story of the path of God's purpose as expressed in the lessons.

To the poster who suggestion Mary was 'raped' and gave no consent, do look again at the story of the annunciation again. The plan was explained by the Archangel Gabriel and Mary clearly gave her consent to it! I have sometimes wondered whether she was first, second or even third reserve, since she or others could have said "Thanks, but no thanks," to the proposal. 😉

WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 07:06


The reason why Jesus's birth is so celebrated is because Christians believe that this is the moment that God became man to make the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free. It is literally 'joy to the world'. Christmas is absolutely linked to sin and death. However, it is not a morbid reflection but a joyful celebration of God becoming man and fulfilling His promise.

Otherwise, we would just be celebrating the birth of a baby.

BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 07:10

“ The plan was explained by the Archangel Gabriel and Mary clearly gave her consent to it! ”
Hmm. Not sure that would stand up under the new laws about coercive control....

NearlyGranny · 27/11/2019 07:19

Luke 1:38: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it into me according to thy word."

She listens, asks a question or two for information, has a think and decides okay, I'll do it. Where's the coercion? Where's the control? She made a choice. She could have said no and there would have been no ill consequences for her.

Where do you see coercion in this story?

NearlyGranny · 27/11/2019 07:20

Bother, unto, not into! Sorry.

SoxiFodoujUmed · 27/11/2019 07:25

Mary clearly gave her consent to it! I have sometimes wondered whether she was first, second or even third reserve, since she or others could have said "Thanks, but no thanks,"

pretty sure that an omniscient ineffable deity would have enough personal knowledge of Mary, having known her from before she was born, that the fact she would consent would have been known in advance.

WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 07:28

The idea that Mary was coerced into carrying Jesus or was 'raped' by the Holy Spirit is just inflammatory ignorance and highly offensive. By all means, don't agree with Christian beliefs but don't be deliberately offensive.

Mary could answer the Lord’s call freely is why she was Immaculately Conceived. Anyone attached to sin because of being afflicted by Original Sin would be incapable of answering in total freedom as she did, because Original Sin makes one self-interested in his choices. She could have said no but chose not to in the ultimate freedom (free from sin and self-interest) of her choice.

WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 07:29

Knowing in advance that something will happen isn't the same as forcing or manipulating something to happen.

BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 07:30

Well, she asked how it was possible because she was a virgin. And she was “troubled”. But there doesn’t seem to have been much of a get out clause. And she was 12/13/14ish. And an angel appeared telling her that she was specially chosen and this was what was going to happen....Not sure saying no would have been an option, frankly.

churchandstate · 27/11/2019 07:32

But it's school! Not seminary, school. Just because the Church has managed to invegle itself into state schools and the Lords doesn't make it right.

It’s a carol service celebrating Christmas, which is a religious service. If the OP doesn’t like that, she doesn’t have to send her child.

Xenia · 27/11/2019 07:33

Consent was not really much of an option for 12 - 14 year old girls in those days. You probably did what your parents told you. However that was in that time. It is very important children learn about history and the language of the bible itself gives them a lot ot think about at services like that.

churchandstate · 27/11/2019 07:36

I disagree. Christianity its belief set, its genesis is exactly 'like something someone sat down and fabricated for a laugh'.

No, it isn’t. It is a religious tradition which grew out of a complex set of morals, social systems and belief systems across approximately a third of the world. Nobody sat down and made it up. You are being very reductive and pointlessly so. If you want to teach your children that the claims of Christianity aren’t true, that’s your choice, but you’re still talking out of your bottom.


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WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 07:40

Mary was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29).

She was greatly troubled at his words (the angel' s greeting)' e.g. Mary didn't know what he meant as' the Lord is with you' would be recognised from OT stories of God calling on His people to do miraculous things. She doesn't know what He wants her to do at that point. She isn't troubled by the sight of the angel.

In terms of age (we don't actually know the age), you are forgetting the context of the time. This wouldn't have been outside of the realms as a normal age to get married and have children. I'm just in awe that trust and maturity that Mary displayed, in her acceptance of what was being asked of her as that age.

We don't know what would have happened if she had said no so that's just speculation.

Lillyhatesjaz · 27/11/2019 07:45

My DD didn't want to do a reading at school involving spending hours at the church practicing (state not church school) so I wrote a letter explaining we are not Christian and it wasn't appropriate for DD. It wasn't until some time later I found out that DD aged 9 had also told them we are pagan which probably explains why some of the teachers were looking at me strangely.

bathroomideas · 27/11/2019 07:52

I’m an atheist but 9 lessons and carols is full of nostalgia for me. My mother was evacuated to Cambridge and despite being brought up an atheist she always attended the service at Kings.
Though out my childhood she always listened to it on radio 4 on Xmas eve as she put the Xmas decoration up and we ate mince pies. She was not the only one, every years across the world 370 million people tune into it (I’m amazed how many on here don’t know it) there was a program on radio 4 a few years ago the service is also broadcast on the World Service and for many people it is annual ritual around the world especially expats and like us it is for many the beginning of Xmas. The main carols are always the same (as are the readings) the opening carol is always Once In Royal David’s City with a single chorister singing the first verse. The opening prayer amongst other things invites us to remember those who “mourn” particularly poignant for me now that my mother has died.
As a family we have carried on the tradition we put our Christmas decorations up eat mince pies and listen to it. As I said I’m a died in the wool atheists but it’s a beautiful service and is definitely worth listening too.

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