This one has me scratching my head more than shaking it. I mean, at least in this lesson they weren’t so much wrong as…I don’t know.
Let me just get to into it. The story/passage I’m addressing today is Isaac and Rebekah, otherwise known as Jacob and Esau.
The questionable lesson I received from it? Don’t play favorites with your kids. And this was repeated with the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors.
Were they wrong? No. Absolutely not. I one hundred percent agree that this is a valid bit of guidance to draw from these stories. Are they the primary message? No. Is that okay? Sure. The Bible is a living book. There are many lessons to be learned from each passage, and every time you come to a particular section you might take away something slightly, or even completely, different. As long as what you take away does not contradict the text, or wildly misrepresent it, this is fine, this is good, and this is probably the work of the Spirit.
So what’s the problem? — Why did I learn this lesson as a kid? Why wasn’t this the point presented to the adult classes while we learned about not taking advantage of our siblings? Not cheating our siblings and lying to our parents? (Not bragging, in the case of Joseph?) After all, giving kids a lesson on the proper behavior of parents is…well, I don’t want to be the one that tells a kid that her parents are sinning when they always take her little sister’s side.
I have a theory, though. I suspect that no one was willing to object too loudly to the cheating and lying because God said all along that Jacob would receive what he acquired through these… dubious means.
I would just like to point out, though, that there are so many lessons on Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and so so many others getting impatient or overly worried and taking on the matter of fulfilling God’s promises themselves. Claiming Rebekah and Isaac shouldn’t have lied to get the blessing isn’t questioning God’s will or the prophecy at all. We’re pointing out that Rebekah should have trusted God to bless Jacob without the lying. After all, if he hadn’t lied, he wouldn’t have had to run away. Maybe Laban wouldn’t have tried to cheat him if he hadn’t been hiding from his older brother. Maybe that would have…oh so many what ifs, and I’m getting distracted.
I just wanted to point out that people don’t always have to be wrong in what they say to be… let’s go with questionable in this case. (It could easily be wrong in others.)
I do think it’s time I make something clear. I loved my Sunday School teachers. I still do. They were marvelous women who volunteered their time and love to teach the Bible to me and my peers. All of them were following curriculum the church provided for them. It’s the curriculum I’m criticizing, questioning, the systematic choices of the church leadership who were in turn following church tradition.
Series Disclaimer: throughout this particular series, it is always possible that I simply missed something, or honestly forgot it. I am, however, operating on the assumption that my experience is actually fairly typical despite coming from a comparatively small denomination. I feel justified in this assumption because I have put effort into interacting with and listening to as wide a variety of people as I can, and I put effort into paying attention. My entire life I’ve put effort into paying attention, into understanding. So perhaps I’ve missed something, or forgotten a single lesson, but I am speaking of broad impressions of a large culture. Should your experience differ, I am glad. Should I be wrong, I would be relieved.