I am raising two young men, and that means I am forever shoulder-deep in dirty laundry, empty milk cartons, and discussions of bodily functions. I mean, honestly, it’s a full-time job to get them to move on in the conversation when someone—anyone—accidentally “toots.” Parenting is one tough gig, and I’m convinced—or hopeful? —that there is a special place in heaven for boymoms who have long been outmuscled by testosterone in every possible way.
Can we talk for a minute about the task of teaching our kids to love the Bible? Because it’s not an easy love affair. I have high hopes for giving my sons a stronger knowledge of Scripture, of equipping them with some Old and New Testament literacy, of having some old-school Bible sword drills, of giving them shiny silver dollars for verses memorized. My hopes and expectations often soar. But then we all sit down together, too late in the evening, and it doesn’t go the way I had in mind. It’s all very . . . well, age appropriate.
One year, in an ambitious fit of New Year’s resolutions, and clearly on a day when we had forgotten how miserable it can be to read the Bible as a family, my husband, Peter, and I decided to tackle a family challenge: Together, the four of us would memorize a verse from every book of the Bible. We decided we would take turns selecting the verses, working our way through the Bible and the weeks of the calendar. There are sixty-six books and fifty-two weeks, so sometimes we would double up. Since we believe that there are no bad verses in the Bible and that all of them are there for a reason, whoever’s turn it was would get to lead our family in the verse they’d chosen.
The book of Leviticus happened to fall on the week when it was Tucker’s turn to choose a verse. And so with a healthy dose of awkward, I present to you the verse we all had to memorize together.
You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut.
Leviticus 22:24, niv
Yep. Okay, so . . . testicles.
I said to the boys, “Guys, if we’re going to memorize this one, then tell me this. What is the lesson in this verse? What can we be thankful for?”
I have to be honest: I was fishing for answers. I was looking for words like grace. I was looking for somebody to say how great it is that Jesus gave himself for us so we don’t have to sacrifice animals and obey hundreds of laws on a daily basis.
“We can be thankful . . . that our balls aren’t bruised or crushed or torn or cut.”
“True. Anything else?”
“Well, Mom, back then, animals were like money. And God wants the best of what we have, not our leftovers. So God didn’t want people to give him things that were useless. Or, you know. Bruised.”
Sure, yes. I’ll take that. Firstfruits and whatnot.
There was a lot of talk about testicles at our house that week, including during bedtime prayers. “God, I promise not to give you bad testicles.” Amen and amen.
(I do think that Leviticus 22:24 is solidly in place in their memory. And that I live in a frat house.)
Please, God, step into our silly, messy mess.
We really have no idea what we’re doing.