Recently there was an iReport posted on CNN titled, “Why I Raise My Children Without God.” As I am writing this, it has been read over 670,000 times. Surprisingly so many people have tried to suppress the article by flagging this iReport as inappropriate that CNN has finally posted and announced that they will not remove this post. It should be noted that apparently an equally large number of people have spoken up and said that the author reflects their views.
About 1 out of 5 people in the USA are not affiliated with any religion. Eighty-eight (88%) of those not affiliated with any religion even said that they were not looking for any religion, though most of them said that they believe in god. The author of the blog is one of them. She was apparently raised in Texas, in the Bible Belt, and has come out of her experience rejecting the god she was taught. [Fr. Orthoduck’s note: I have phrased that most carefully. You can only reject what you think you know.]
She gives several reasons why she is raising her children without God. They are:
God is a bad parent and role model
God is not logical
God is not fair
God does not protect the innocent
God is not present
God does not teach children to be good
God teaches narcissism
As I have read her reasons, I find myself thinking that she actually has various reasonable points. I can almost hear the Sunday School lessons and the pious sayings to which she is objecting. And, I would be objecting to most of them as well. For instance, under God is not fair she says:
If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered? … Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair.
She has an excellent point. Why am I so sure that she has an excellent point? Because it is the exact same point that the Prophet Habakkuk makes in his complaint to God:
O Lord, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Several of her other points actually echo complaints that are either Biblical or have been made by Christian leaders. Under God teaches narcissism she says:
“God has a plan for you.” Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. “No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special.”
When God’s plan for the Church are presented in such a way that it makes it seem as though he has a personal plan for you that will insulate you from unending trials and tribulations, or when it is presented such that a horrendous tragedy in your life should not really occur, then, yes, we are setting people up for a major crash and/or some major guilt.
I have known more than one young person who has grown up and become a wonderful parent, nurturer, provider, church supporter & attender, etc., etc., but has never done anything famous. They may not have a good enough voice for the choir. They may not have teaching ability for Sunday School. They may not … you get the idea. And yet, sometimes those adults will come to me troubled because their impression of God having a plan for their life meant that they should be doing something special in the Church.
And so they ask whether they have failed God. Meantime, I look at their life, their faithful grown children, etc., and know that they have done everything that God has required of them. But, they were taught a version of “God has a plan” that was equated to almost everyone becoming a prophet or a preacher or a missionary, etc. I would agree with the mom blogger that this is not appropriate.
In fact, her objections illustrate to me what happens if you raise Christians with only a Sunday School conception of life while throwing in some pious sayings. Sunday School is a good start, but a bad finish, if that is all the understanding of the Christian life that you achieve. Sunday School is like explaining to your three-year old that babies come from mama’s seed which is watered by daddy. It is generally accurate and most definitely age-appropriate. But, as the three-year old grows, they need to have a better explanation of the process.
As a Christian grows up, they need to be taken on a deeper and deeper journey into the faith. A Sunday School understanding is as bad a finish for an adult Christian life as the explanation to a three-year old of the origin of babies would be a bad finish in understanding for an adult human being. In fact the author of the Book of Hebrews is horrified of that possibility:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The blog post by the mom blogger does show a couple of things. One, this woman thinks and thinks logically. She is correct in saying that the understandings that she has of whom God is do show a God who does not match what is said about him. Two, however the post shows me that whatever congregation she belonged to did not take their members past “milk” into “meat.” And, read the last sentence in the quote above again. “… Those who by reason of use,” is a phrase that speaks not simply of intellectual knowledge but also of the practical knowledge of Christianity.
===MORE MAY COME, WILL DECIDE LATER, GRIN===