Thursday, January 28, 2010

Christianity, home schooling and a funeral

Ezekiel 34:17-19
" 'As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

I attended a funeral yesterday. It was a beautiful funeral for a ninety-three year old woman who had lived a full, seemingly happy life. It was my first Lutheran funeral, and I have got to say, it was a huge improvement over the many Baptist funerals I have attended. The service was a celebration of the decedent's life and faith, rather than just another chance to make a doctrinal proclamation. I liked it.

I was really proud of my son and his friends for asking to attend the funeral. Not very many teenagers will get dressed up and drive an hour and a half to attend an old person's funeral, not unless they are personally related or were personally close to the deceased. And yet none of the teenagers who attended had ever met the dear old saint so recently passed on into glory.

Compassion was their motivation however, and it was so heart-warming to be a part of their mission. Lest one get the idea compassion belongs to Christians only, of the three students only one, my son, is a Christian. The other two are not. One is a non-believer and one is Jewish. Kudos to all three teens. =)

They were there because of the church, though, and it grieves me to acknowledge this harsh truth. They were there to protect their fragile friend, granddaughter of the deceased, FROM the church. It was good that they were there. And that makes me very sad.

The young lady herself is so deeply wounded by the church. For reasons unknown to me (perhaps because her parents don't go to church?) this precious little girl was called the spawn of the devil by her Christian relatives and shunned. This small town full of Christians here in the buckle of the Bible belt reinforced this declaration. I have been told it was partially blamed on her long auburn locks, her active kinesthetic bent as a child and/or her dislike of wearing dresses. But I think it was mostly because her parents weren't church attenders, reason enough to exclude and ostracize for many fundamentalist Christians.

What a tragedy. Yet I have seen this happen over and over again, especially in the Christian home school community. Little Johnny's parents let him read Harry Potter? Yikes! Run away! Don't speak to Little Johnny ever again children!

I am even more embarrassed to admit that I myself once complied with this idiotic stance, that I couldn't trust non-believers and should automatically trust fellow Christians. Now I am smart enough that if this sentiment had ever been expressed out loud, I would have rejected it outright. But it was never expressed bluntly and comprehensively like that, it was more implied.

Here's how it works: new family shows up to Christian home school support group meeting. Polite handshakes are offered all around while the children go play. And then the questions begin.

Where do you go to church? Oh, you don't go to church. Oh well. The conversation may then turn to other subjects, but effectively it is over. After the new person leaves, perhaps with a few phone numbers of people who will never returns her calls, the analysis begins. Wasn't she nice? Well, yes, but I don't think we would click very well. We're just too different. Maybe I will let her children come over sometime, but my children won't be allowed at her house.

The implication is that bad things could happen outside of Christian homes and so, better safe than sorry. Plaster condescending smile here. Add a pat on the arm for emphasis. Raise eyebrows and nod head for full effect.

Well guess what world? Good things do happen inside of the homes of people who don't believe in Jesus. Maybe even better than what goes on inside of your home, as shocking as that may sound. Not saying your family is bad, but none of us is perfect. You might even be able to learn something from this family that could improve your own family life. Wouldn't that be way cool!

And there are some really bad things happening inside of some Christian homes. Honestly, I have many examples I could list, but then I would be typing all morning. Not that being a Christian means that you will definitely have bad things happening in your home. My experience is that, in the end, religion seems to have very little to do with the mental/emotional health of a family system. It can be a part of a healthy family as well as a part of an unhealthy family. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Doctrinal purity does not a healthy family make.

In this particular situation, where Christianity was the given reason behind the dysfunctional social behavior of shunning little girls, I can not keep silent. I am ashamed beyond words that I have been guilty of this grievous sin. I am deeply embarrassed that I was so easily influenced by group-think that I too probably cooperated in the pain and hurt of a child at some time.

The prophet Ezekiel nails us on this crime, fellow Christian home schoolers! Pushed and shoved around by God's fat sheep- that's what happened to this precious child. We had our needs met, why should we care whether or not the rejects get their needs met? I guarantee in most cases no one will give it a second thought. Shameful.

I repented of my evil ways and resolved to open my heart and my home to everyone God sends my way years ago. I hope you will too. I hope to never see any child again wounded by people proudly proclaiming the name of Christ. It so dishonors the name of Jesus!

I was very proud of the three amigos yesterday. The whole time they were there at the viewing and funeral, those three heroes formed a human shield around their young friend. Though the stench of rejection still hung in the air like a Southern belle's vapors, the love of true friends was an impenetrable barrier. I believe that inside that huddle of teens the scent was sweet and light with love, loyalty and acceptance.

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.
33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.
34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.
35But love (those you consider) your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

* italics in parenthesis my personal reading of that portion of the text


  1. I love reading about what your son and his friends did for their friend. I'm sorry for the rejection Christians feel to pour out on others, both in the fold and outside it.

  2. Having grown up in a very spiritually abusive, fundamental church-system, I can relate to that girl. Since leaving that church many years ago, there are life-long friends who won't speak to me. The first time my family went back for a funeral of a very dear friend, most of the folks we had grown up with shunned us at the funeral. Which I guess was better than the agend-filled "sermon" that was so obviously aimed at my family. Thankfully, we were so drunk with new-found grace that we felt compassion instead of resentment. These types of stories make me sad.