Friday, August 30, 2013

Stand Strong For God?

My 3 year old daughter goes to a preschool/daycare that is associated with a moderate-liberal church.  Its not insular, they accept anyone and the children reflect the diversity of the area.  It's one of the few good examples I can see of secular community outreach.  They do include Christian lessons in the curriculum, but it is positive (no original sin or hell).  My daughter loves to learn and sing the songs, something I enjoyed about church.  They had vacation bible school (VBS) for the older kids this summer and my daughter picked up on some of the songs that they brought in for the little ones.  One of the lyrics she sang had something about "standing strong for god".  This was interesting to me and we talked about why it is that god would needs kids to stand for him.  Anyhow, I wondered what the biblical basis was for standing strong for god and sure enough the whole VBS is a program that churches can buy/use, surely the material would make it clear.

Here's the link:

The banner says "Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God".

They have a nice daily breakdown, so lets have a look.

Day 1:
Bible Point: God’s love 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "I love you, Lord; 
you are my strength." 
(Psalm 18:1)
Bible Story: David writes about 
God's love. (Psalm 23)
Ok, so god's love gives us strength to stand strong.  This seems a bit circular: God's love helps us stand strong for god.  I suppose god could be using believers as "love to standing strength" transmogrifiers.

Day 2:
Bible Point: Family and friends 
help us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "So encourage 
each other and build each 
other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Bible Story: Mordecai 
encourages Esther to do 
the right thing. (Esther 1–9)
Actually, this one sounds fine, if you just drop the "for god" implication.  Helping one another is good and, to me at least, as powerful of a drive as food, sex, sleep, etc.

Day 3:
Bible Point: Prayer helps us 
stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Don’t worry about 
anything; instead, pray about 
everything." (Philippians 4:6)
Bible Story: Nehemiah 
perseveres to rebuild the 
wall around Jerusalem. 
(Nehemiah 1–6)
And who are these prayers directed to?  Who answers prayers?  I think that's god again and it just seems silly to pray to god, to ask for strength to stand, when you're supposed to be helping god by providing your own standing strength.

Day 4:
Bible Point: Trusting God 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Trust in the Lord 
always, for the Lord God is the 
eternal Rock." (Isaiah 26:4)
Bible Story: Jesus dies 
and comes back to life. 
(Luke 22:39–24:12)
Ok, now I'm just confused.  If god is an eternal rock of strength, why the hell are kids being asked to stand strong for god?  Does god want us to be strong rocks?

Day 5:
Bible Point: The Bible 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Your word is a 
lamp to guide my feet and a 
light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)
Bible Story: King Josiah follows 
God’s way. (2 Kings 22:1–23:23)

It just wouldn't be VBS without an affirmation of biblical authority.  Because what would the bible be if it didn't say in there that it's the word of god.

Of course it's ridiculous to take what Christians say at face value without understanding the subtext.  One subtext of this is that they know these kids are growing up in the Information Age, where they are going to be exposed to criticism of their beliefs.  They aren't standing strong for god, they're being asked to stand strong for their parent's and pastor's beliefs.  How about we teach these kids to stand strong for themselves, stand strong for their fellow humans, stand strong for their own morals?  God doesn't need their strength, they do.

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