Sunday, February 20, 2011
From the day I was born until twenty-one years old I was attending independent Baptist churches three times a week. Sunday School at 10:00am,regular worship service at 11:00am and again at 6:00pm Sunday evening. Wednesday services were mandatory as well. If in the event I had a sporting event scheduled on Wednesday nights,It took a back seat to church services. From 1975-1990 I attended a church that was pretty strict in abiding by a literal interpretation of the King James Version of the Bible. As a result the churches congregation was expected to not drink alcohol,never go to the movies,could not wear shorts or go shirtless,mow the yard on Sunday,have dinner at an establishment that served beer or wine, not listen to rock music(country was OK),or even, as the old slogan goes " I don't smoke,cuss or chew nor mess with the folk that do"
My parents really did meet their obligation to Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go;and when he is old,
he will not depart from it"
According to the Liberty University study Bible, The biblical pattern of effective parental training emphasizes a balance of instruction and discipline. The ideal parent is to be neither overly authoritarian nor overly permissive. Rather,he must balance love and discipline so as to not "provoke" his child to rebellion.
If this were a homework assignment for my parents...Give them an A+
Their balance of love and discipline cross checked with strictness and freedoms really did allow me to fulfil my obligations in my Christian family as commanded in Ephesians 6:1 and 2
"Children,obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2.Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise"
Last year I got into a political debate with a friend of mine on her facebook profile that quickly turned into a religious debate. Her sister,whom I've never met, joined in the fun. The sister,after doing a little investigating into my facebook profile, announces to me "After viewing the books you read [atheistic themes] and reading what you've said, I know your parents didn't raise you that way,and I hope you will not tell them how you feel"
I wonder if this lady still considered me a Baptist. Perhaps a baptist living in sin? Perhaps a non-practicing Baptist Christian? All too many times people submit thoughts like: "Well, he was born a baptist,he'll always be a baptist...I'll keep him in my prayers"
The problem is, I was not born a Baptist. I am simply the son of two Baptist parents. The same way I was not born a Republican. I was not born a vegetarian. I was not born a farmer. I was simply born with parents that were. (Assuming my parents were republican,vegetarian,or farmers)(They were not by the way)
I was born into a family of believers. However,I am under no obligation to become a believer. My parents presented to me their religious beliefs and ideas in which I accepted as a child,teenager,and even young adult. As I have gotten older I have come to realize that I just do not believe in their religion anymore. As a non-believer with Christian parents I am simply just handing back to them the beliefs they presented to me in my youth. Are they....should they be disappointed? Certainly. I'm sure it can hurt. I'm sure my mom felt pained when I announced I was voting for Gore instead of Bush in 2000. It could have easily stung a little for my dad when I declared my dislike for baseball when I was in Dixie youth leagues. Had my parents been vegetarians I'm sure they would have squirmed in anguish the first time they saw me bite into a piece of bacon.
But my parents,along with millions of other parents in the world know that children grow up and become nothing like them. Its only human nature. We grow,we think,we do things differently. Its a fact of life. For someone to suggest to me that rejecting my parents religious beliefs brings shame and dishonor to them,then I would suggest this person still lives in a bronze age way of thinking. You might as well side with extremist Muslims who think the penalty of leaving the faith is death. Sign up for an honor killing. Grab a pitch fork...a torch...Lets go torture and kill a non-believer with Christian parents.
Prof. Richard Dawkins,author of "The God Delusion", politely explains:
"I think we should all wince when we hear a small child being labelled as belonging to some particular religion or another.Small children are too young to decide their views on the origins of the cosmos,of life and of morals.The very sound of the phrase 'Christian child' or 'Muslim child' should grate like fingernails on a blackboard"
"Our society,including the non-religious sector,has accepted the preposterous idea that it is normal and right to indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents,and to slap religious labels on them- 'Catholic child','Protestant child','Jewish child','Muslim child',etc.-although no other comparable labels: no conservative children,no liberal children,no Republican children, no Democrat children."
Overall my youthful experiences in an independent Baptist family was very enjoyable. I would not go back and change it in any way. My parents supplied my needs and gave me the best possible upbringing in order to succeed in life. This happens in every loving family,whether its in a Baptist,Catholic,Jewish,or even an atheistic or secular family. I think the biggest difference in a religious family compared to the secular family is that the religious family teach children what to think and the secular family teach their children how to think. I have observed all loving families training their children in the way they should go. Training in love,respect,honor and dignity is something any civilized family can do regardless the "labels" we apply to these families. Even if Proverbs 22:6 never existed the results in our civilized,functioning society would still be the same. Why? Well, because Proverbs 22:6 is common sense.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take my godless,liberal,tennis loving Italian greyhound out for his morning walk.
1.Liberty University Study Bible (King James Version)
2. "The God Delusion",Richard Dawkins