Seriously, the Bible, in all of its graphic glory, is a LOT for any kid to handle.
For starters, central to our faith is a man getting publicly tortured in the most grotesque and dehumanizing way. And that’s in the NEW TESTAMENT! The further we go back, the more graphic these stories are. A lot of them make Game of Thrones look tame. Take a look at Judges 19:16-30, for crying out loud (sub-titled: Rape and murder at Gibeah).
In order to make the Bible suitable for young’uns, we have to water it down and make it so saccharine and vapid that it robs the stories of their meaning and power. And then, what’s the point?
(This is why I’m not a big fan of Sunday school, to be honest.)
I say, when they’re really young, bring them to church - have them just sit through service with you. The hour of compulsory togetherness and quietude (boredom) is good for them.
But before getting into the nitty-gritty of the crucifixion and the other more graphic stories with them, maybe wait until the “cement is dry” and they get a bit older. Just tell them that Jesus came to show them that God loves them more than they’ll ever know even on their worst days. Be vague. It’s fine. (Please don’t try to force moralistic lessons through the faith - it’ll only backfire. Keep it love-focused.)
Let them grow up, live a little, experience some heartache and pain, and THEN maybe they’ll be better able to see the biblical themes of betrayal, mercy, suffering, sacrificial love, etc. THEN, you can be more honest and real with them.
But then again, what do I know? I’m a total rookie dad who’s only been dadding (yes, ‘dadding’ is now a thing - you saw it here first) for six years and has no idea what he’s doing. In ten years, I might look back and wish I would’ve done it differently.
Lord, have mercy. :)
Grace & Godspeed,