Should we expose kids to the book of Hosea?

The question “Should we expose kids to the book of Hosea?” is ringing in my mind. There are two reasons for this.

First, I recently helped prepare a ten-year-old to read the scriptures publicly for the first time. Second, I plan to preach from Hosea 1:2-10 on 24 July.

At every Sunday service, three or four passages are read to us. Generally, we have two readers. Often, one of the two is very young (pre-teen).

Reading the Bible publicly carries great responsibility. The care with which we read the Bible passages demonstrates our regard for the Bible.

I practice often before I step up to read. I even check the pronunciation by consulting a dictionary or by listening to a recording, e.g. Micah 7.

When I learned the 10-year-old had been assigned to read, I sent to her father a link to a reading of the passage. I asked him to have her listen to the reading, then record her reading it, and send it to me so I could review it and consider what help, if any, I should give.

He sent me the recording. Two things fell below my expectations: (1) she didn’t say the introductory and concluding formulas, “the New Testament reading is from … this is the word of the Lord;” and (2) she mispronounced one word.

On Sunday, I picked her up at 8:15 am

In the car, she excitedly showed me a sheet on which she had pencilled “the New Testament reading is from … this is the word of the Lord.” And she read it to me.

I said her reading was excellent and we didn’t need to practice.

She disagreed.

She was eager to get it “spot-on.” She insisted we practice. We did. For forty minutes! She struggled with saying “Galatians,” so we practiced it repeatedly. I was so happy!

I taught her some additional things.

I taught her to project her voice, not read looking down at the text I had printed for her.

I taught her to look up at the congregation when reading.

I taught her to read such that no sermon would be required for people to understand the text.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with a child!

I’ve dealt with the first point, helping someone read the text to a congregation. Now for the second point: the content of the passage.

Every Bible reader knows there’s lots of “alarming” stuff in the Bible. For example, the first verse in the passage I plan to preach from on 24 July includes Hosea 1:2b:

Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom.

Hosea 9:14b is even more “alarming”:

Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Should we expose kids to the book of Hosea? What if they go and share these verses with their school friends? Will other parents complain? Will the complaints become viral on social media?

Remember what Muslim preacher Zakir Naik said about “pornographic Bible passages”? S Thayaparan wrote this in his column in Malaysiakini:

[Zakir Naik] further claimed that his religion did not allow him to read “obscene things in front of the audience,” so even for a million dollars, he would refrain from quoting those passages.

You’ll be glad to know that our worship leaders don’t assign passages with “alarming” content to young readers. But the fact remains that they hear the passages during our services – and can freely read them in the Bible.

Because of how God has chosen to communicate with us, Christian parents have a greater responsibility than non-Christian parents to train their children in the language and practices of waywardness.

The prophets, inspired by God, used prostitution as an image to show us, from God’s perspective, the horror of faithlessness, of hypocrisy, of worshipping anything other than the living God in ways approved by Him.

But that doesn’t mean prostitutes are evil – many are victims.

It’s hard to explain. But necessary to understand.

Prostitution and whoredom as used in the Bible refer to serial adultery, of failing to honour the wedding vow to remain faithful, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.”

Should we expose kids to the book of Hosea? See 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

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