Confession: When I Was a Kid, I Hated Genesis (and I Probably Wouldn’t Have Liked the Rest of the OT Had I Read Any Further)

Primary Audience – My local church context
Secondary Audience – Anyone who has tried reading the Bible from the beginning but gave up.

Growing up as a church kid, I was always bothered by a number of the stories in Genesis. When I say a number of them, I think I mean almost all of them. From the beginning, I was frustrated by the Creation account. If there is a time for honest question-asking to God in heaven, among my first will be why not just multi-task and do it all in one day? I didn’t like the Fall account either. The serpent deceiving Eve (I’ve bought the extended warranty on a video camera because the sales guy was convincing but show me another person that is persuaded by a talking snake. I mean really, when women see snakes they run, they don’t engage in conversation).

Other frustrating stories include the violence of Cain and Abel (where did that come from? A little more context please), the Sodom and Gomorrah account, Lot offering his daughters and Noah’s Flood. Then there’s Abraham: Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and Hagar, Abraham and Ishmael, Abraham and Isaac … And what about Jacob. He’s a diabolical weasel! To make matters worse, everyone that Yahweh blesses and sympathizes with is the one that I like least in the story. My heart always goes out to Eve, Noah’s neighbors, his son Ham, Lot’s wife, Ishmael, and Esau. To say that they get the shaft does not only imply that you are heartless but how do we dare identify that the Bible is an appropriate account of Yahweh’s justice and love?

Had God made me a super-intelligent and extraordinary mixed martial arts fighter, I’d build a time machine and go back to Genesis and kick some butt. But He didn’t, instead I’m only smart enough to go back and watch LOST episodes on my DVR that someone else was smart enough to invent so I can watch people like Sayid kick some butt. I digress but a good butt-kicking for the sake of logic and civility is much-needed in the Genesis account (and I haven’t even delved into the problem of pain and suffering).

So why read Genesis, the Old Testament, or even the New Testament? Well that’s entirely up to you to spend an adequate time to decide but I can tell you why I read, engage, study, reflect, pray to apply, etc. For me it began with a better understanding of the utmost importance of the Resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus really was raised from the dead, a lot obviously changes. If the Giver of life becomes the Redeemer of life and now the Sustainer of life then I believe we can enter a serious discussion regarding origins, after-life, evil, suffering, justice, and hope. I really do.

I could spend a lot of time at unpacking the last paragraph but to conserve space let me move on to my second point. After conceding that Jesus is Lord, this truth allowed be to accept my biased presuppositions regarding my faith, life, and of course the Scriptures. It also helped me confront the fact that I have always been biased and have always brought presuppositions to my interpreting of anything, including the Bible and that there is no such thing as an unbiased reading of anything. We can be disinterested, attempt to be indifferent, apathetic towards the outcome but never actually be unbiased and completely objective. That was quite the game-changer for me.

Further, after conceding that Jesus is Lord, acknowledging my presuppositions allowed me to see my biases as a present-day western, thirty-something, middle class professional man. Throw in my personality, personal history and whatever else, I don’t think the Genesis writer really ever had a chance with me.

Today, I read the Scriptures as a worshipper who hopes to gain from the Scripture. Certain stories still bother me but I also have the presupposition (or the belief) that God is sovereign and loving, I am limited but earnestly trying (most days) and somewhere in all that, I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to me in my readings, prayers, sermons I hear, writers I read, conversations I enjoy, my children’s’ laugh, my wife’s embrace and the many other corners that God seems to speak to us.

Consequently, over the years, I have come to appreciate much of the Genesis account. As it turns out, the rest of the book is pretty good too. May the Lord bless your soul as you read the Scriptures. Amen.

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