06 August 2005

Losing My Religion - Part II: Teach Your Children

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble.
      Benjamin Franklin

This is part of a series that begins here. The post before this one is here.

When it's just you, it's a lot easier to leave certain questions and doubts unaddressed. Sharon often asked me what I believe, in part because she wanted to understand how important church was to me. My answers were always wandering and noncommittal. It turns out, that's the way my beliefs are too. My approach to religion echoed Franklin's sentiments. I had no issues with what my religion said about how people should act. But God, Jesus his divine son, the Resurection, the Holy Spirt? Well, let's just say I had my doubts.

Surprisingly, this was not a big deal when it was just me. I could go to church and interpret what I heard and what was taught. I would listen with an intellectual ear to the analysis of a Bible passage. I discussed the intent of the author and the audience they were writing too. I would filter doctrine through my own interpretations. In short, as an adult, it was okay if I didn't buy into everything. It got harder with children.

I went to an all male Catholic high school. One thing I will always remember from religion class is the way we were taught that everything in the Bible is true. It was explained that parts of the Bible are not historically accurate, yet they always contains spiritual truth. I tried this concept on my kids, but it didn't really fly. For someone their age, it's either real or not, fact or fiction, true or false. At church, each week, my kids were being taught a version of reality that wasn't mine.

That was probably the turning point for me. It's interesting, looking back on it now. I never confronted my own doubts until my religion was being taught to my children. If I was going to be honest with them, I had to decide where I stood. However, once I did, I realized I couldn't stay where I was. With much difficulty, we decided to leave our church. The question was, how? And, what next?

This will be continued in Part III.

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