Every other Thursday morning I have the privilege of teaching the Bible to a class of 11 year-olds at our local public primary school. I have half an hour to use however I choose, and so each year I have taken them through an overview of the Bible, trying to get across as simply as I can what the big picture of Scripture is all about.
After we go through Creation and the Fall I tell them about God’s promised Rescuer – the ‘Serpent Crusher’ who will come and destroy the Devil and undo all the harm that man’s sin brought into the world. I show them how the Old Testament is the search for the Serpent Crusher, like a massive game of ‘Who am I?’, as more and more clues to the Serpent Crusher’s identity are piled up – a man, born of a woman in a somewhat unusual way, descended from Shem, Abraham, Jacob, Judah, David, born in Bethlehem, born to a virgin, someone whose hands and feet will be pierced, and so on.
One of the joys of teaching children who know very little about the Bible is seeing their response to so many things that we take for granted. I’ll never forget one little girl who asked me after I’d laid out some of these clues, ‘Mr Peel – do you know who the Serpent Crusher is?’ It’s a tremendous opportunity to lay some of the foundational truths of a Christian worldview and above all to present the gospel, and I’m continually thankful for the freedom (who knows how long it will last?) to teach these truths in public schools.
Yesterday we happened to be in Genesis 2, discussing the creation of Eve and the first marriage – very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It proved to be a very fruitful opportunity to touch on three major moral issues of our day.
1. The distinction of the genders. Why did God make Eve differently from Adam? He made Adam from the dust of the ground, but he made Eve from a rib out of Adam’s side. Why not take another pile of clay and fashion the woman in the way he did the man? Surely it was at least to illustrate, right from the very beginning, that the man and the woman are different. They are equal in that they are both made by the hands of God in a way that that the other creatures were not, both made in the image of God (Gen 1.26-27), but they are not the same. They are created differently because they are different. The manner of Eve’s creation shows something of her relationship to Adam – he was formed first and she was taken out of the man. How we need to be reminded of that in days when transgender propaganda is being pushed on children at an ever younger age – the nonsensical idea that there is no such thing as male or female, that you can be whatever gender you want to be at any time, that nothing is fixed.
2. The nature of marriage. God gave Adam a woman to be the helper corresponding to him, not another man. Nothing else in all creation was found that came close to being a suitable helper (Gen 2.20). And so God creates the woman to ‘fit together’ perfectly with the man, not just physically, but in every way. Someone like him but different from him, with strengths to complement his deficiencies and vice versa. Here in Northern Ireland the battle rages on to redefine marriage and make it legal for two men or two women to marry. Perhaps it will be made legal, but that will not make it right. Marriage can’t be redefined, any more than a square can be redefined – it was fixed by God in the beginning.
3. The sanctity of human life. Last of all we talked about the difference between human beings and the animals, how only human beings, male and female, were made in God’s image – and that all human beings, without exception, were made in God’s image. It doesn’t matter how physically or mentally disabled a human being might be, or how young or how old they are, they are still an image-bearer of God and for that reason incalculably precious. Which is why the taking of a human life is so wrong, whether in the womb at just a few days old or at the other end of the scale when a human being is very old and ill.
Do pray with me for the children who hear this teaching from God’s word, not just from me but from other pastors in the school and from their teachers, that God will give them eyes to see and understand and hearts to believe what God has said.