The one about religion and kids ….

<<This post is about religion and belief systems.  If you are easily offended and feel that discussion religion is going to lead to foaming at the mouth and fist shaking, then please do not read this blog post – for the love of sanity, skip it and stop by another day.  This post is not written in a very eloquent style and somewhat garbled, so apologise for that ……>>

Driving home with Connor yesterday, Connor started asking questions about religion.

Connor has quite a lot of “Jehovah/God” questions, and I try my best to work through them in a realistic fashion without getting all caught up in the fervour of religion and the “just believe” stuff.  I answer him truthfully based on what I understand.

There are certain grey areas where I am not clear on what I believe, so I may explain to him my take on an issue, and then I explain my interpretation of what other people think, and that he needs to decide what is right for him, based on what resonates with him.

I realise that is a rather lacksy-daisy approach to religion, and I may be stoned in the town’s square, but that is sort of where I am, for now, with regards to religion.

I am not sure/convinced/certain/some days and I have my doubts that God exists.  At the same time, I am not convinced that there is not a God. I think about it a lot, and it used to keep me awake a great deal, fretting and wondering and …. just not being sure.  I used to be a firm believer in religion, but then I started asking questions, and now I am not sure.

I have answers to my questions, but I am not sure that I the answers sit with me.

I respect that other people are religious, and they feel they “believe” and is a concrete thing, but it is not like that for me.  I just don’t have that “foundation” and I do not have that “certainty…” in my head and my heart.

Connor asks a lot of questions, and religion is a fairly frequent topic for him.

I am not a “just believe” person.  I used to believe all sorts of things.  I had a firm understanding of “religion” and how we all fitted in.  But then I didn’t, and right now I am still a bit in the grey area and I am just not sure….

<<could I ask that you not send me reams of emails and comments about how I should find God and just pray over it …. I really would like to put in a special request to not do that … really don’t… no matter how much this post is making your blood boil up and want to reach out and save me …. I will find my own path when I am ready >>

I naturally have a questioning mind-set, so I appreciate that Connor asks questions.

I try to answer him honestly and if I am unsure of something, in terms of that my belief system, and what is real for me, then I make it clear to him that because I think of something in a certain light does not mean he has to – it is the way I think about it.  I would like him to find and choose his own path.

I would like him to be exposed to the concept of God or Jehovah or Allah or ….. whom ever.  I would like him to view religions with an open minded, and a sense of respect, and try not get fanatical about anything.  I would like him to have a well grounded spiritual self.  Maybe because I don’t and I know how it makes me feel a bit like I am bobbing on the waves, on the proverbial ocean of life.

I have tried to reinforce to him to be open-minded, enquiring.  Avoid believing everything people tell you, and, and ask questions – no matter how uncomfortable it makes people.

Nothing is absolute.  Nothing.  Religion is a belief system, and belief systems are as faulted as the people who “designed” them – of course every religion feels they are the “right” one and that they are right in God’s eyes. <<in my opinion…>>

But as soon as you start running that logic through in your head, then surely you can work out why maybe it is not so.  I am not suggesting the Bible should not be believed, nor am I suggesting that God exists or does not – but I am not always sure, and my path, right now, is not clear.

Religion is a bit of an”issue for me” as I am not 100% sure where I stand on many things, so I can’t offer my children clarity on some of the issues.

Some we have spoken about – evolution versus creationism.

Worshipping Jehovah versus God or Allah or Buddha …..

Going to church versus not.

Using statues as part of your worshipping, versus religions that do not support using images and refer to it as idolatry.

Worshipping Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit versus only praying to one God, and not believing in a Holy Ghost arrangement.

Being a good person even if you do not believe in a religion.  Do all good people go to heaven?  If good people go to heaven, where do bad people go?  Is it enough to live a good life, or can you be a real shit, then on your death bed ask for forgiveness and thus get yourself a ticket to heaven or the ever after?

That bad people can also believe in God, go to church and still do evil things.  Who decides who is good and who is bad?

If there is a heaven and a hell, or just a heaven, or neither.

Why do people die?  Why do children die if they have not done anything wrong?

And so on ….

Our discussions do go off into a lot of areas, and often I am left thinking for days following a conversation with Connor.  He is an old soul in a young person’s skin, so his eyes see much more than just what you present to him.

Some of the more profound moments for me with Connor was: “If they have found dinosaur bones that were dated 20 millions years ago and humans were only on the earth 10 000 years ago, then how did God create it all in one week – and maybe there were animals here and plants long before man got here.”

“Why do people use statues to pray?”

This week Connor asked me “What is a Christian…?”

I explained to him that a Christian was someone who believed in Christ.  They believe in the Bible.  However when people read the Bible they interpret it differently.  Everyone reads it and they may decide that a particular section is more important or they understand it a certain way.

There might be lots of people who agree on one way to understand the Bible, and then another lot of people who believe in another way.  In short they are all Christians, but each of these groups “establishes” their own religion.

And that is fine.  The problems comes along, when each of those religions believe they are “right” and everyone else is wrong, which unfortunately is inevitable with religions.

That was how I tried to explain it.

The part of religious doctrine that leaves me unsettled is the “fear factor.”

I feel there a lot of people who stay committed to a religion because they feel if they do not they will not be saved or go to hell.  So they are so afraid of the repercussions of “not believing” that part of the motivation for them to just believe, is the risk of what will happen if they do not.

I sometimes reason that maybe if I just preached “religion” to my kids, then if there was a risk of them not believing to receive eternal life, then I can sort of cover that base, for just in case.

But the problem is I am a bit in murky water, as I am not sure what I believe and I cannot really convince someone of something that does not ring true with the core of my being.

So, that leaves me in the hinterland as far as religion goes.

Yesterday Connor asked me “If a Christian marries a Muslim, what will the baby be?”

On the days where my children are not trying to kill each other on the car drive home, I am faced with huge questions about religion and the meaning of life.

Who said raising kids was easy?

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3 Comments

  1. I think one of the best things I ever learnt about religion and kids was from a woman that I barely knew, she’d grown up without so much as a bible story (how bizarre right? But she was from some tiny town in Canada) but her father had told her that, ‘Your relationship with God is between you and God – there is no middle man.’ To her as a child, she explained, it simply meant that she should follow her heart and any child with an imagination will create the God that suits them best.

    It’s a challenge most days but when my kids bring up Spirituality, I just sit them down and make the watch Brother Bear I & II *sigh* What else can one do?

    Reply
  2. Tania

     /  January 20, 2012

    Connor may well be the member of your family that will open your eyes to God and His Word… I am watching Connor’s progress with great interest. In the interim, as you do not wish to be preached too, Bless You & Your Beautiful Family. Xx

    Reply
  3. Claire

     /  January 16, 2012

    I think you are doing a fantastic job, allowing the freedom to ask and discussing what can be an explosive subject. I have always believed my boys will make up their own minds – if they head of to Church, Mosque or Temple I will go along with it cos ultimately religion is a very personal decision.

    Reply

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