Monday, December 6, 2010

Carols and Faith Undone

"Jesus pooped," Margot sang from the backseat.

She rode home from church with me yesterday. My inquiry about her Sunday school class led to this chorus about Jesus. I do not blame the teachers. They were sharing the Christmas story, which is the remarkable tale about God in human flesh.

In the early church it was popular to deny Jesus lived in bodily form. Apparently the thought of him pooping, puking, or wetting his bed was too much for some Christians. They claimed He only seemed fleshly--later gaining the name Docetists from the Greek word dokeo, to seem. If Jesus pooped, as Margot chimed, He must have had a body. Bodies are of the essence for Virgin birth and death-by-cross, too.

The Sunday school teachers implied nothing about Jesus' bathroom practices. Margot's carol was the result of poor parenting. During one weak moment in my daughter's second year of life, I laughed when she said "Poopie." It has become her favorite word. Every secret, punchline, or adjective defaults to defecation.

What are you playing, Margot? Poopie game.

What do you want for breakfast, Margot? Poopie.

What did you learn in Sunday school, Margot? Jesus pooped.

I stopped laughing long ago, but the precedent was set.

Elders and effective teachers are called to control their children (1 Tim. 3:4-5). My child was flirting with heresy. Margot was on the opposite end of Docetism, treating Jesus as merely human. My attempt at correction was to avoid laughing and to assure Margot that songs about Jesus should be more respectful. Jesus did poop. That I could not argue. But if we were going to sing about Him, I'd prefer more traditional songs.

Take for example, Away in the Manger. The kids were learning that carol for our church's Christmas service. Surely an exposed infant sleeping in a feeding troth really enhances Jesus' image. My daughter Claire didn't think so. Last night she refused to sing it at our church. I should clarify: Claire did not want to sing it at our church, because the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church sings better than ours. She told my wife this on the way to their Kids' Christmas Chorale.

Christmas carols were undoing the faith of my family. One daughter ignored the deity of Jesus; the other slandered the local church. Our Christology and Ecclesiology were under attack. Perhaps next year we'll stick to Jingle Bells.

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