I wasn’t thinking when I let my daughter go to church with a friend on Sunday. She’d done a sleepover like tween girls do and it seemed a natural extension. I like the people she was hanging with. It didn’t occur to me to even worry.
But two hours later my daughter came home visibly disturbed.
I’ve often thought that the bible itself is not very kid friendly. What is the difference between the Old Testament and a season of Game of Thrones, really, in terms of smoting and smiting and ‘knowing’ and ‘begating’ , and raping and pillaging all in the name of god? I’ve often thought the New Testament was a good ‘we were only joking about that first book’ sort of response.
I’m not just being a smart-mouthed atheist jack-ass. I did time in two Catholic schools and I once married a man who sprung wanting to be an Episcopalian priest on me after less than a year. I helped get him into seminary and we lived in student housing amongst other priests in waiting. So let me tell you, I freaking ate, breathed, and dreamt bible for a good long time–in its various studied incarnations. I divorced him by the way. Because, dude–like I could be a minister’s wife?! Happily married to a fellow atheist now.
So when I think sending your kid to her friend’s church. I’m thinking bad ditto paper crafts with lambs and sheep. I’m thinking ‘love thy neighbor.’ I’m thinking whether thou goest I will go’ (oh sorry…Apocrypha…only the Catholics like that one–dude that’s the one with the good stuff).
I’m not thinking when my kid comes home I have to explain to her what fornication means or abortion or the crusade. I’m not thinking I have to tell my ten year old on a Sunday morning more about sex ed than I was planning at the moment. I’m not thinking I have to explain what homosexual sex might entail. I’m thinking Jesus. I’m thinking love.
But when you let your kid go to church with a friend in 2015? They come home disturbed and with questions.
Why do people hate gays? Why do they talk about gay people in church?
Why must all clinics be closed? Why are women sluts if they have sex before marriage?
When my husband and I get ready to watch Game of Thrones, we make sure the kids are asleep because despite the good writing, no kid needs to see swords through the head. Hell, I look away at that part too. No kid needs to be inside Littlefinger’s brothels either.
No kid needs that sort of Bible either.
My daughter and I took a drive. I explained to her what the medical abortion procedure is and why it’s always been a part of women’s lives since the beginning of time. I explained the benefits of it being legal as opposed to illegal. I let her know that people are all over the map on the idea of when life begins. I let her know that she comes from a long line of pro-choice women and that that decision belongs to the woman alone. She’s a smart one. “There’s so many bad parents out there who do horrible things to their children. They probably shouldn’t have had one.”
And then I tell her what I’ve long believed— that there’s no greater love for a child than when a pro-choice mother chooses to have a baby. You know that that mother wanted to be a mother and it wasn’t about social conditioning or fear of god.
She was arguably way more disturbed at the hatred of gays. With a lesbian aunt, two lesbian grandmothers, and a host of friends, she felt the church attack turn personal. And thankfully, it made absolutely no sense to her that one would try to get ‘gays not to do gay things’ as she explained to me how they talked at the church.
I woke up this morning feeling like I’d done a good job helping her out of a traumatic experience. I was happy that we try and remain a science/logic based family.
But I can’t help wondering if these churches realize that the fire and brimstone is a turn off. That you aren’t going to get new converts by telling them their grandparents are going to hell.
Obviously she’ll still hang out with her friend. But message of hate and damnation rather than love means she’ll never go back to church. And like my own estrangement from church, it is entirely of the church’s making.