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.
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: