Sometimes I worry my child is going to turn out to be the world’s worst heathen baby, complete with tiny devil horns and pitchfork. I worry because we don’t go to church (can’t find a fit), don’t pray before dinner (feels too forced), and make one too many disparaging remarks about Pat Roberston (he be crazy).
The thing about religion is that it scares us. All the rules and stipulations, bullying and blasphemy, Bible thumping and gay-hating. It’s weird.
Austin and I both grew up in Christian homes. My dad was a pastor for a number of years and both of us have a parent working in the Mennonite education system. Neither of us feel any particular rebellion against how we were raised. If anything, we are thankful. Thankful for strong roots, good values, and great examples. We cherish our time spent in choirs and youth group. We remember our churches fondly.
I guess we’ve just gotten a little cynical; hardened by youth pastors who turned out to be pedophiles, preachers who turned out to be adulterers, spiritual leaders who give advice on subjects they know nothing about, Christian fundamentalism at its worst. We see the crazies on the news with their hateful signs at abortion clinics and military funerals and we shudder. We hear people we know, people we love make hurtful, absolute statements in the name of Jesus and we cringe.
And then there’s the Christian Parenting bubble. Too much of today’s “Christ centered” parenting is based on fear; fear of the world, fear of mistakes, fear of change, fear of punishment, fear of diversity, fear of other beliefs and opinions. It makes me nervous.
There’s no doubt we’ll be telling Waylon that Jesus = awesome and to love his neighbor, but I’m not quite sure about all the rest. How in the world are you supposed to teach the Bible to a child? The story of Noah is cute with all the bunnies and kangaroos, but then he got drunk and naked in front of his kids. Should I leave that part out? And yeah, the Joshua-Fit-The-Battle-Of-Jericho song is catchy, but what about afterward, when God told him to kill every single man, woman, and child?
And so I worry.
I worry that if we expose him to the violence in the Bible, he’ll be confused.
I worry that if we let him figure out God on his own, he won’t.
I worry that if we habitually skip church, he’ll miss out.
I worry that if we throw him into Sunday School, he’ll ask questions we can’t answer.
I worry that if we’re honest about our own questions, our insecurities will be passed on without any room for growth.
I worry about a world of demons, the lack of hope.
I worry about fire and brimstone and the Pharisees.
I worry about the evangelicals and the manipulators.
I worry about apathy.
I worry about fear.
But maybe I worry too much.
Have you had to make decisions about your particular faith and children?
Any insight you’ve come across in your own parenting or in how you were parented?
We’re all ears.