So, last night I'm cleaning the kitchen post-dinner, and the girls are playing in their bedroom. With their army of Barbie (TM) dolls. I think we have at least a battalion.
Anyway, all of a sudden our eldest daughter says rather loudly, "oh my gosh, sister, when we die we won't be able to play with our Barbies (TM) anymore. We'll be dead. We'll be in heaven! Our eyes will be shut! We'll be dust! We'll be in heaven!"
(No, she didn't actually say (TM). It was implied.)
Well. Death and dolls. Interesting. Five years old and contemplating, at least superficially, what death will be like. And to an extent she's right: we'll be dust, and we'll be in heaven. There's so much more to death than heaven, though. Jesus was very clear that there is another destination for some. Our daughter does not yet know about that alternative. She is little Miss Uber Sensitive, and we're not quite up for the nightmares yet
I'm pretty sure our family isn't unique in this sense. I've taught pre-school/elementary-school kindergarten for a number of years, and I've taught Awana for two. In that time, I've met one preschooler who mentioned hell in Sunday School. I think it's perfectly natural to avoid the subject with children; churches have even stopped teaching the doctrine to adults.
I have a question to pose though. Is this right? Okay, multiple, related questions. Are we shortchanging our children by hiding this aspect of our faith? Is hell something to avoid on grounds of maturity, or are we simply afraid to talk about a rather unpleasant topic (to say the least)? I'm beginning to wonder.
So...open forum, and the more the merrier. Let's discuss. When is it okay to talk about hell? Why then (if at all, for those who think it's not worth talking about at all)?
Just remember: be civil. While forgiveness is always available, Jesus didn't have kind words to say about those who hated on others. In fact, He had some rather harsh words. Including "hell."
Thanks, and God bless!