parenting · theology

Faith and Parenting

I wanted to relate my post on Church Fragmentation to being a Dad, since that is the other subject that is always on my mind.

Right now, I’m a big fan of the Catholic Church (Which seems weird considering all the shit they are going through right now). My wife wrote about our experience last Saturday at a local Easter Vigil Mass, and she really caught the spirit of what has been so captivating to me. It’s that reverence, that spirit, that holiness, that I don’t see in Evangelical churches.

But then there is the first comment, from Lauren, that gives me pause (a viewpoint that i’ve heard from many of my catholic friends). I’m scared that the awe inspiring amazingness of the Liturgy will be lost upon my child growing up in it and become “dull.”I don’t want to raise my son in a church where it is all about, “believe this and do this, to be good Christian.” (which the Catholic church has a unfairly given bad reputation for) And while that attitude is also prevalent in the Evangelical Church, it was never an attitude that I was raised with. I know lots of “cradle Catholics” as Lauren calls them, that have turned away from the church for precisely that reason, while I haven’t come across as many in the Evangelical church. (Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with Lauren’s faith, I’m just over-generalizing from her comment)

I want to raise my son with a strong Christian faith. But I also want that faith to be his decision. And while at this point in my life I am a huge fan of the liturgy of higher order churches, I know it isn’t an environment that is condusive to developing the kind of faith I have. Growing up in a stuffy Catholic Church, I think I would have been turned off by it too.

So this is an additional element to my current conundrum. I’m not making a choice for something that suits me, I’m making a choice for something that suits my family. (I know this is a decision both my wife and I will make together, I’m just examining my thought process right now)

I don’t want my son to grow up to be a stuffy Christian, and I don’t want him to lose his faith because of the church. I can only do so much, so I want to make sure what I do really counts. One day I am going to be a Pastor, and that will carry enough baggage as it is, just ask any PK (pastor’s kid). So the choices I make now aren’t just affecting me and my salvation, but that of my son as well. Because even though it is his choice, the parent chooses the initial path. And I’ll be loving and supportive where ever that path may lead, but I like to think that the choice I’ve made for me will also be the choice that is right for him.

Do other parents worry this much about faith and their children? Do atheist parents try to instill the values of athiesim in their kids and worry that their choices and values will drive them somewhere else? Do other Christian parents worry about the things I am worrying about? Do Muslims, or Buddhists worry about these things?

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4 thoughts on “Faith and Parenting

  1. I grew up in a Baptist Church that put a lot of emphasis on the list of rules that makes a Christian. What many, many churches don’t teach or rather put emphasis on is that we are covered by Grace, not works. If you could work your way into heaven by following a list of chores, then Jesus wasted a heck of a lot of time and heartache dying for our sins.

    This does not give us free range to “go forth and sin without consequence.” Because grace is not a backup plan. To truly follow Christ, there needs to be boundries between us and the world. Is it OK for me to have a beer every now and then? Well, if I didn’t think it tasted like piss…yes, it’s fine. We each have our own convictions from the Holy Spirit. According to 1 Corinthians and later in Romans, Paul teaches that many things are permissible, yet not always advisable. Don’t do it if it would cause your brother to stumble, etc.

    Jesus came to fufill the law so that we didn’t have to remember 10,000 small details in our day in order to achieve salvation. The greatest commandment to follow is to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If all denominations could come together and live this out as Jesus commanded, what a difference we could make in people’s lives who hurt.

  2. I wrote that reply with the fragmentation of the church post still fresh in my mind as well…as it relates to being a parent… I want my son to grow up and realize that church is a gathering of Christians where we can share our problems and lift each other up when we are hurting. And when we leave the walls of the church building, it’s our job to show love to those we meet, whether they be of a different religion, homeless, homosexual, whatever the case may be. Jesus died to save all, and it’s not our place to judge them any differently. That’s what I hope my child takes away from the church experience.

  3. Oh my, an overwhelming yes I worry about that. Its one of my biggest fears/concerns. Right now, its one of main reasons I’m attending church. PERIOD.
    I want Kya to know God. Period. But how can I know the best things to teach her about this religion when I am calling so much into question myself. What if I tend to lean toward the universalist Christians and teach her a bunch of wrong stuff? what if my decision to stay in church is the wrong one? What if she is taught something I don’t agree with? What if I decide to stop attending church and teach her what I think she should know and I leave something out? What if she resents me for not taking her to church? What if she resents me for taking her to church?

    See? Lol. I think all parents worry about such things BUT I think in the Christian ‘ours is the only way’ mindset it can get a leeeeetttllleee bit more crazy. Good luck with the PK thing. I’m cheering for you.

  4. Thanks for your comment on my page. I didn’t grow up Catholic, but I was raised Pentecostal… and I feel that at one point in life whether as a child or a teen or an adult, there is a brief time where the novelty of faith wears off. But I think it’s worth a shot if it is what you believe. You can’t force your belief on your children, you can only present it to them and pray they will take it up as their own. My own parents struggled when I left the Protestant faith and became Catholic, but they have since realized that our beliefs are far more similar than they believe.

    People tend to point out that the Catholic Church has a lot of crap going on right now. We sure do! Does that scare me? No. Well, not entirely. Don’t forget that Jesus washed the feet of Judas at the last supper… Not every single pastor in a Protestant church is wonderful, so there will be the same mess ups in the Catholic church… But as humans it is our nature to mess up, but we can’t judge a whole faith on one’s actions. I’m not saying I condone what the priests did… No. They were completely wrong and out of line! But I also feel that it is over exposed and over media-ized because the Catholic church is one of few that holds to the celibate priesthood.

    Either way. I am open if you have questions. I can also recc some good books and an excellent blog of a friend who converted shortly after the birth of her first daughter.

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