as the boys grow older, their questions are changing. no longer do i have to explain how the sun comes up each morning, or how a flower grows, but now i find myself up against a constant flow of questions, most likely from sawyer, from the strange: “what happens if someone wears a wool sweater and walks across a desert?” to the where-does-he-come-up-with-these-ideas: “what happens if lava touches electricity?”
instead of succinct answers that hinted at the truth and that used to satisfy him, i am now finding myself not even able to come up with an answer that might be even a little truthful. so i tell him, “i don’t know.”
i think it’s important for parents to be able to admit they don’t know all the answers. even to their little kids’ questions. i am okay with the fact that i don’t know the answer about lava and electricity.
i’m glad, at least, that they still come to us with questions. recently, rowan and sawyer asked me what hell was. perhaps if you’re a christian reading this, you are wondering why our 7- and 8-year-olds have not yet heard about hell.
because we don’t believe they need to know about it. and we think they need to know about Jesus and His command to love others and that is so much more important than to scare them into a false sense of security about “asking jesus into their hearts” so that they can stay out of hell.
there are blog posts and articles and even books written these days about the large exodus of young people (that definition doesn’t include me any more!) from the church. a lot of these authors believe they know exactly why.
Ken Ham and the fundamentalist side states that it’s because the Church isn’t teaching apologetics enough to its children.
This study at the Christian Post suggests several reasons, among them that the Church is anti-science and judgemental of those who have doubts or struggles with their faith.
i’d like to offer my own suggestion. what if young people are leaving the Church because they were told that the Church has all the answers. and when they are faced with problems that were brushed under the carpet in their home church, or told their “problem” was a Big Bad sin, or told that to question their faith/a certain interpretation of scripture was sinful, they felt duped.
since when is the Church supposed to have all the answers? the Church is supposed to commune together, take care of its widows and poor, love each other no matter their “sin.” it’s not supposed to be the place where all the answers of our faith are answered. what if, instead, it was a safe haven for all those questions we have?
parents don’t have all the answers for their children as they raise, love, and nuture them. the Church should be there to love its members and its community, not claim to have an answer for all of their questions or problems.
so when my sons asked me about hell the other day, i didn’t lie. i know what people think of hell. i know what people think the Bible says of hell. so i told them that. and i told them that i believed differently, but that i’m still learning. and then i went farther.
i told them not to worry about it or think about it. i told them that we’re to listen to Jesus’ words about taking care of each other, and loving each other, and then asked them what they think that is supposed to look like in our life. following the words of Jesus is entering the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
the conversation changed and i admit that i engineered the direction because i don’t want to scare them into making a decision about trusting Jesus now, and then finding out the reason they originally trusted Him was…well…bunk.
so as we raise our boys to trust Jesus and follow His example and His commands, i hope they experience the Church as a fallible community willing to embrace them no matter what. because that’s what they’ll get from their parents.