Saturday, October 16, 2010

Faith Suicide (or is it homocide?)

This blog post started as a response to this blog post at The Wartburg Watch. The author of that post coined the term "faith suicide" for the phenomenon that the Barna group recently uncovered. The cold hard truth revealed was that 61% of young adults stop going to church once they leave their parent's home. Here is my reply on that blog. Comments that I added later as I edited it for my post are all in italics:

I am both horrified and and strangely encouraged by the term “faith suicide”. Horrified for what should be obvious reasons, since my relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is life itself to me. Strangely encouraged because at least some few people are starting to understand that it is the fundamentalist rigidity and poor reasoning that are responsible for what is happening to our youth.

I am a Christian home school mom. I started home schooling (as any home schooling purist would say! ;-) ) on the day my first child was born. I was attracted to home schooling as a nurturing, creative, possibility-filled, liberating way to raise and teach a child. All of this is possible for a home school, and many people choose to home school for this reason.

(I am a Christian, and passing my faith on to my children is as important to me as any Christian parent. However, it was never my primary motivation for home schooling, as home schooling is not necessary to passing on the faith. A genuine living relationship with the Living Lord of Love is the only thing necessary to passing on your faith. That is something all Christians should live daily, regardless of who teaches their children their ABCs.)

BUT, once you start exploring the religious branches of the home school sub-culture, especially the “Christian” support groups, curricula, seminars, etc., you quickly find that it is a rigid, doctrinaire, fear-based lifestyle. Ken Hamm rules in this world. Apologetics are taught in every spelling lesson, math workbook, history text, and especially in what passes for science education. The most popular high school science textbooks supplier is even called Apologia.

I am a curious person, and I watched closely the families that had gone before me. One thing I began to notice after only a few years in the home school community, was that children were not turning out to be the principled holy warrior world changers the home school prophets were promising. I noticed quite a few home school grads starting families awfully young and not according to script, i.e. out of wedlock, and certainly outside of mom and dad’s master plan for the lives of their young people.

So what was the religious home school community's answer to this? More control! Vision Forum sprang up, and scared parents willingly shelled out the money and started putting a stricter milieu control into the lives of their children.

And now, what am I seeing? Starting a family young and outside of mom and dad’s master plan is the least of the home school community's problems. (That can hardly even be called a problem, if one believes in a God of grace and a life of faith, now can it?)

Cutting, eating disorders, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and atheism are (some of) the products of this impossible to survive religious paradigm. These are real problems. The insanity of trying to live up to impossible standards destroys hearts. The madness of denying the realities of life and trying to distort it all to fit into the doctrinal constraints of fundamentalist demands takes a toll on young minds. The spirits of these children are starved for the unconditional love Jesus spoke of, yet is rarely manifested in the daily experience of rigidly religious families.

It is this rigidity of thought and coldness of heart that is destroying the faith of our children. 61% of our young people are leaving the church? Jesus said in John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

So who IS driving these children away? Clearly it's NOT Jesus.

Rigid ideologues are driving their own children out of the faith. They are doing so by relentlessly insisting on a more and more stringent belief system. YE creationism is at the heart of this movement, but is only one example of doctrinal demands trumping truth and damning any deviation from the family party line.

Ironically, the tighter controls they are taught are necessary to keep their children in the faith are the very thing that is causing their children to reject the faith. These youth are not rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting the false Jesus and his ridiculously narrow and mean- spirited dogma that their parents are presenting to them.

These same parents insist that anything less than complete agreement with the whole paradigm is apostasy. So when broken and discouraged young people finally realize that there is no earthly way possible to be happy and healthy in that paradigm, they choose apostasy. The teaching allows for no other options.

Tragically, those late-comers to this fear based lifestyle are calling for the rest of the church to follow in the footsteps of these home school train wrecks: Why Young People Are Leaving The ChurchThis author thinks parents need to dominate their children's thought and social lives more completely, and that will solve the problem. Insanity.

YE creationsim is responsible for creating more atheists than Darwin himself, from where I sit. And that is just the beginning of the problem. Total subordination of women, adults living as children under their father’s “authority” for the rest of their lives, no birth control, women can’t work outside the home, college is evil, it’s considered sinful to work for anyone other than yourself, the medical community can’t be trusted- the list of verboten thoughts and practices just keeps getting longer and longer.

Total milieu control and attempted total thought control of our children will not produce disciples in love with Jesus and passionately devoted to Him for a lifetime. When successful, it will produce automatons who parrot back what their parents and church taught them to say. Only God knows if that can even be called "faith". If you have never had any real choice about what to believe...

But mostly it will fail, and produce angry, defiant, hurting and broken people who will logically conclude, if faith in God is so weak that it requires total isolation and continual indoctrination to survive, then it’s a sham.

Well, I have gone on long enough, but it is a subject I am passionate about. It is very encouraging that others see how damaging and destructive this rigid ideology is to the future of the church.


  1. You know the definition of insanity, right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    The saddest part of your commentary, I think, is that these hyper-controlling ideas for "spiritual growth" are creeping out of the fringe groups and taking over mainstream evangelicalism and even the so-called mainline churches (that we were taught in Fundyland weren't even quite True Christians).

    My daughter's theater group meets in a Baptist church which prides itself on being "so not conservative that I don't even know why we even keep Baptist in the name". They have a coffee shop on the campus where I hang out during rehearsal. Over the last couple years, I've got to eavesdrop on lots of conversations between church attendees, staff members, etc. I've been depressed at how often the chit chat sounds like it came right out of the books being dissed on fundy-walkaway blogs: fear-based BS.

  2. I had to walk out of church today because someone was trying to defend the sovereignty of God Calvin style. I was shaking my head on the way out of the door.

    Basically, when confronted with the dichotomy between the God of mercy and grace Jesus presents to us in His life and ministry and claiming all the accidental tragedies and outright evil in the world being the work of the self-same "god", he punted. More or less, he said that these things are best not pondered much by our finite minds. His analogy began, "I don't know where the wind comes from.."

    It was leave or scream: "Changes in temperature of large masses of air! Any elementary school age child should know this!" Rather than give him a very basic science lesson, I snuck out to the parking lot where I spent the rest of the morning praying for my church. n_n

    Maybe previous generations settled for that kind of answer, but today's kids won't.

    Maybe that man can just choose to check his brain when presented with nonsensical theological concepts, but I can't. I don't think many of today's youth will either.

    What a goofball!

  3. yeah, stories like that make it pretty easy for me to suppress my occasional urge to start going to church again. My desire to meet up with people who enjoy both intellectual conversation about all kinds of things and a deeply spiritual communion with the Divine is easily overridden by my vicarious experiences through people I know online and IRL that demonstrate how rare such a gathering would be, especially in a congregation of institutionalized religion.

    Maybe someday I will have enough grace (both the grace I accept from God and the grace I can extend to his children) to participate in communal organized religion.

  4. I hope so for both of us. I would love to take communions with you IRL as sisters in Christ. =)

    Eh, that is the flip side of mercy and grace- it's for goofballs as well as the deep thinker and intensely spiritual devotee like you and me. LOL!

  5. The good news is that there are many homeschoolers who feel similarly to the way you do. May we all learn to follow Christ more closely and share His messages, not the ones we think we must force onto our children.


  6. I agree Luke. That is good news. Too bad the FIC/QF/Patriatchy crowd take up all the shelf space in vendor halls, headline at conventions, and have their own strong and organized presence on the internet and in the support group organizations at the state and national levels.

    It is my earnest hope that those who also believe that total milieu control of evangelical children is a destructive and dangerous force in the home school movement/evangelical world will SPEAK UP, loudly and often.

  7. I just want to make sure I am understanding your post correctly. Do you not believe that God created the world? Do you not believe what it says in Genesis?

  8. I have no idea how you would get the idea that I don't believe in a Creator from this post. That is very poor reading comprehension skills. I hope you weren't home schooled. That would be embarrassing.

    I have a personal relationship with the Creator actually. I am filled with the Holy Spirit, who honors me with His fellowship because of the sacrifice made for me by Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man.

    I do not believe that the Genesis account of creation means literal 24 hour days. If you abide by the traditional view that Moses wrote Genesis under divine inspiration (though the author never identifies himself and Moses made no such claim) then the human transcriber was still limited in his ability to describe what he saw in his vision. He was limited by his own vocabulary and experience.

    I know personally the difficulty of trying to put the amazing awesomeness of the Holy God into human words.

    People who believe in a literal 24 hr period, six day creation are first of all simple-minded, second of all they are ignoring the testimony of the heavens which declare the glory of God and the earth that shows his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

    God is the author of this reality, and if your Bible interpretation requies you to deny realities, like the speed of light, the geologic record, etc., then you discredit the great and glorious Creator of all.

    So, no, if you think that I don't believe Genesis is God-breathed, or that God didn't create the world, you are clearly NOT understanding my post.

  9. Thank you for your clarification. But I don't appreciate your insults. I just wanted to clarify. I hope that you do not always hate/dislike creationists. I was unsure of your stance as I found a link to your site via Sonlight, which does support creationism. Odd.

  10. I didn't appreciate your insults either. Or do you think it was not an insult to read my post, my blog, and then ask if I even believed in a Creator or that Genesis was God inspired?

    You say I hate/dislike Creationists? Not sure how you come to that conclusion.

    However I do very much dislike Young Earthers. It seems you think that two terms are synonymous, but that is not true.

    Creationist is a term that encompasses any one who believes that the world was created ex nihilo by the word of God. All Christians throughout the ages have been Creationists.

    Young Earthers are a relatively new phenomenon, an American doctrine that I think was first put in word in The Fundamentals in the early 1900s. Ken Ham and his "Creation Science" is an even newer phenomenon, a "ministry" which tries to discredit real science and purports to have proof for his dating of the earth. While Young Earthers or "Creation Science" adherents are also Creationists, they are merely a tiny subset of that great company of believers.

    Every Christian is a Creationist. Very few Christians are Young Earthers, and many of those who are Young Earthers today will either be atheists in the future or have moved on to more traditional views of Creation.

  11. re: "Very few Christians are Young Earthers"

    I'm just curious about the basis for your view, as my perception if different. Are you including Catholics? Actually, I think recent (U.S.) poll data on this question revealed it is actually more than "very few." (I wish I had a link. Sorry.)

    re: "YE creationsim is responsible for creating more atheists than..."

    I say that all the time. In my case, if I hadn't been encouraged to study YEC and Christian apologetics by my church, I might not be an atheist today. (I decided to skip over cutting, eating disorders, suicide attempts, and substance abuse and go straight to hard stuff: Atheism.) ;)

    I'd quickly add that Ken Hamm is also "(better) than Darwin." He makes a surprisingly logical argument (in my opinion) that "if you can't trust Genesis, then you can't trust the rest of the Bible." When stories in the Bible are refuted by science, you can't just rename them metaphors or call them "figurative"...

    Along those lines, I've always understand the felt need to call days "eras"; but the rationale for doing so always seemed weak to me. But, maybe young science-minded Christians will adopt it. Or, maybe not?

  12. Answering with a new post, and thanks for commenting! =D

  13. New post found here: