The Bible: Rated “E” for Everyone?!

The Bible: Rated “E” for Everyone?! June 7, 2018

I came across the shirt below, and felt I had to blog about it:

I’m not sure whether the shirt is based on a lack of awareness of the Bible’s contents, familiarity only with children’s Bible versions of stories, wishful thinking, or some combination of the two. But “explicit content” seems more apt than “E for Everyone,” wouldn’t you agree?

I first blogged about what movie-type rating would be given to the Bible, or to works within the Bible, back in the very earliest days of my blog, when it was called “Exploring Our Matrix” and hosted on my own university web space, well before it moved to Blogger, never mind to Patheos. Just over 11 years ago to the day, if anyone is interested. Here is an excerpt from that post:

When discussing the books of Joshua, Judges and 1-2 Samuel in class, I have on occasion asked my students who they would get to direct the stories. My own suggestion is to have Mel Gibson direct Joshua, which has a Braveheart epic sort of feel to it, while Judges is definitely more up Quentin Tarantino’s alley. Both books would clearly deserve an ‘R’ rating. My assignment for that part of the semester is to have students reflect on the difference between reading these stories as adults and their exposure to them as children. Many details they don’t remember from their childhood are mentioned, without fail including that they were not told as children that Goliath was decapitated by David.

Should Bibles have parental advisory labels affixed to the cover? Would we really want out children to put what they learn from these parts of the Bible into practice?

Perhaps my directing recommendations need to be updated, after a significant passage of time? If so, who would you recommend as replacements for my examples?

I never got around to tackling other examples of biblical literature. Song of Songs would be porn, if the things that are described through metaphors were to be shown on screen in literal fashion.

Presumably the most mature audience rating of any individual book in the Bible would apply to the whole. And so there is violence, sexually explicit material, probably foul language, and more, in specific places. And so perhaps the question that it would be interesting to ask is which books within the Bible, if any, you would be comfortable placing an “E for Everyone” rating on, even if the entire compilation needs to be for more mature audiences. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this in the comments!

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Yeah, I mean, any movie or game could be rated “E” if you cut out all the sex and violence. And profanity, although English translations have pretty much already done that for us.

    Obviously, the designer of this shirt wasn’t thinking super-critically about it, but their message is, “Everyone should read the Bible.” But that’s not how rating systems work. Rating systems are based on content, not who you think should see it. Growing up as a fundie evangelical, though, I’ve worn my fair share of “clever” t-shirts that didn’t really work out upon further analysis.

    • John MacDonald

      And there’s Genesis 19:34-35,

      “The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up”.

      • LastManOnEarth

        Some men are Leg Men, some are Breast Men. Lot, evidently, was a Family Man.

    • The Mouse Avenger

      That’s a very interesting thought! 🙂

  • Jen (*.*)

    Growing up, my siblings and I had to read the Bible aloud every day, and read through the entire thing many times. We read these explicit stories over and over but weren’t allowed to watch TV! Fundie logic…

    • The Mouse Avenger

      That IS rather ironic… XD

  • map

    Genesis 34.24-26

    “Every grown man followed this advice and got circumcised.

    Three days later the men who had been circumcised were still weak from pain. So Simeon and Levi, two of Dinah’s brothers, attacked with their swords and killed every man in town, including Hamor and Shechem. Then they took Dinah and left.”

    Always wanted to give this text to a summer intern to do a Bible study.

  • Most Christians that I know never read the Bible through. They just read selected devotional programs. When I was an adolescent, I started reading the Bible through and was horrified. I don’t think it is for every age.

  • Sandra Urgo

    I have been reading the Bible, am on Samuel, which so far seems pretty tame, but no, I would not want a child or a teenager to be reading especially Judges! As an adult, I see the writers as reflecting their times and their culture, which was very violent. A lot of stories are mythological and meant to investigate a moral issue or instruct. Rob Bell described the Old Testament as a moral continuum, with humans, through their religion, beginning to develop rules of conduct and morality over time. But their religion also reflects their politics. I recommend “God”, by Reza Asian, who describes the rise of religion from an anthropological and cultural view. We certainly shouldnt take the Bible literally-most of our teenagers would have been put to death.for disrespecting adults! But one theme that repeats itself over and over is the admonition that the Israelites, as a society, were to “care for the stranger (foreigner, or immigrant), the widows and orphans”. This appears 7 times alone in Deuteronomy. Ruth was an immigrant who moved in with the Israelites and married an ancestor of Jesus. And one of Jesus’ most powerful stories dealt with the “good samaritan’. Maybe the anti immigrant evangelicals should read the entire Bible. Instead of dwelling on cherry picked verses.We Christians need to be familiar with our holy book. And not take it as history.

  • Brandon Roberts

    the bible is an extremely violent and raunchy book and story of seasons trio of towns (a very tame farming/life sim) got e 10 for having a few swears and some other things

  • John Gills

    I’ve heard of an unanswered atheist challenge to Christian clergy.

    “Let’s have a public meeting. I’ll read the biblical passages you select for me and you read the biblical passages I select for you.”