Controversial Teen Bible

I’ve been hearing about Zondervan’s new student bibles and all the flack it’s taking, mostly from the home school community. The True Images Bible for teenage girls and its guy counterpart, the Revolution Bible, seeks to address with scripture the issues most teenagers face on a daily basis: sex, relationships, self-image, school, and a long list of other challenges. Although most parents will agree that these are issues that need to be addressed with our teenagers, some think that Zondervan crossed the line with articles that semi-graphically describe homosexuality, oral sex, pornography, and more. For example:

Discussing her friend “Emma,” Ashley says, “The story is that she had oral sex with a guy friend of ours last week. Just for fun. They’re not dating, although they’ve always flirted with each other a lot. Emma took one look at my face this morning, and she knew I knew.”

Emma goes on to claim that oral sex “is not even sex,” but Ashley disagrees, saying, “God’s definition of sexual purity covers much more than intercourse.”

Following Ashley’s narrative is a warning that “the physical and emotional effects of oral sex are similar to intercourse,” along with tips for dealing with friends who are engaging in the practice.

Although some people are calling this kind of work a disgrace to our scripture and are trying to make Zondervan pull it off shelves, I applaud their work and the step they’re taking to get real with teenagers. I agree that it probably shouldn’t be given to a young home schooled kid who’s never heard of sex, but the average teenager experiences these struggles almost every day. I’m glad Zondervan isn’t backing down from this.

The only suggestion I have is that the company somehow find a way to tactfully make the content of these two Bibles known to the consumer before purchase. It’s definitely not an “innocent” Bible that anyone could pull off a shelf and hand to any ol’ teenager. But given the right context, these Bibles can be extremely helpful and give students an opportunity to see that this age-old book addresses relevant issues in their daily life.

Since I was once part of the home school community, I feel I have the freedom to say this: if they don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it. Yes, these student Bibles are pretty graphic in nature, but they weren’t written with them in mind as the target audience anyway.

Posted on November 2, 2005

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