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Sparhawk
08-18-2006, 09:05 PM
My son Tom is almost 18. For thr past 14 years my wife has dragged him kicking and screamimg to Church and Sunday School. He's never been interested in religion while my wife is a Catholic convert and I am a recovering Catholic convert.

I vowed never to set foot in another Catholic Church especially after all the hypocrisy of the Boston Archdoicese a few years ago. My wife wasn't happy about that needless to say. Well two years ago my son refused to get confirmed becasue he didn't beleive in God and though the Catholic Church was a joke. None of his friends go to Church and were constantly poking fun at him because of it.

I decided that if he didn't want to be confirmed that was his decision not his mother's. I actaully discussed it with the parish priest and he agreed with me. Tom did not get confirmed. Almost led to divorce court, my wife was not happy but I backed up my son and went against her wishes.

Tom will be 18 in a few months and he's informed me that he will never set foot inside another church as long as he lives. HE thinks the Church is a joke and that his mother belongs in the looney bin for buying the whole "God" thing. He's had religion forced down his throat and now he's rebelling all out.

This all came to a head last night and found it's way into my lap. Both of them are expecting me to side with their position. I support my son's right to walk away, as I did, but I know my wife will freak out.. again.

I have no love of the Catholic Church , but I beleive in God etc. I knew this day was coming and now it's finally here. Can anyone offer any advice on how to tip toe through this minefield? I don't think taht we shoul dforce him to attend something he doesn't beleive in and constantly is poking fun at. I'd rather him pull away and end the venom in hope that he'll find some spiritual balance later on rather than force him to go and continue with the arguing and conflict every Sunday.

erika
08-18-2006, 09:41 PM
It is your son's decision, not your wife's or your's. What's important is that you and your wife stay on the same page. He must be allowed to choose, but you should also explain the illogic of his choice (if you feel inclined.)

Have you talked with him about the illogic of denying God's existence? To me, it's a house of cards to say that God doesn't exist, because what do you have to fall back on? Reason? Reason can never explain engrained morality nor can it explain why nature should desire life. And most importantly, if you reason your way to saying that God doesn't exist, how can you assume your reasoning is valid?

We all put faith in something. Your son cannot objectively verify that his rational thought processes are valid, so he puts faith in himself. That's the deal. He trusts in his own intellect for no other reason than he wants to. He could say that your wife believes because she wants to and that's correct. But at least a belief in God gives a rational person a basis for trusting in experience and thought. Sorry to ramble.

Have you read any J.P. Moreland? He's a modern-day Christian philosopher/apologist who I really like. St. Augustine and Justin Martyr also deal with reason and God, but Moreland's contemporary. There are the Lee Strobel books out there too and he does a good job of explaining the historicity of the New Testament. But I think, in our age of science and cynicism, a little philosophy is in order. It's often overlooked.

I don't know if any of these books would change your son's attitude, but it would force him to admit the inadequacies of his own belief system. And remember, he's a teenager and they think they'll live forever. That'll change. Make sure your wife remembers that too.

Robert Toy
08-18-2006, 09:46 PM
This is not meant as a personal slam but reading your post, he learned well from his Dad. There seems to be a repetition of words/thoughts.

johnnysannie
08-18-2006, 09:59 PM
It would seem that your son's apple didn't fall far from the family tree.

erika
08-18-2006, 10:11 PM
I personally don't think criticizing Sparhawk is going to help him with his problem. True, his lifestyle or beliefs may not reflect some of our own, but a little empathy never hurts. And before someone accuses me of being angry, I'm not yet. I emphasize yet.

nancy02664
08-18-2006, 10:19 PM
I was once in your son's shoes (i.e., I'd gone to mass kicking/screaming throughout childhood and was confirmed only because my parents begged me). I'm now a happy atheist, very glad to be free of (forced) religion.

You son will do what he wants, and because of his age you won't be able to stop him. So whether you support him or not, he'll stop going to mass. The tricky part will be getting your wife to understand this in a way that won't divide the two of you.

If I were in your shoes, this is what I'd probably do: openly agree (or mostly agree) with my wife (to appease her & keep the marriage from disintegrating), but secretly side with my son (pull him aside and tell him I support him, but that doing so openly would endanger the marriage).

It's deceptive, I know, but I'd choose white lies over divorce court any day...

Robert Toy
08-18-2006, 10:20 PM
I personally don't think criticizing Sparhawk is going to help him with his problem. True, his lifestyle or beliefs may not reflect some of our own, but a little empathy never hurts. And before someone accuses me of being angry, I'm not yet. I emphasize yet.
I'm sorry if anyone took my comments as criticizing Sparhawk. My comments are based on my own experiences and how a father's (myself) views of the world can and do effect the son (mine), in both positive and unfortunately, sometimes negative ways. The sad thing is I never realized that you don't have to verbalize negative feelings to your children...they are very observant and a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

Sparhawk
08-18-2006, 10:37 PM
No offense taken, in fact my wife threw the same thing at me claiming that it was my bad influence that led to Tom's views.

Here's the problem with that, I have never denied God in my life or denied the existance of God. I've shared my philosophy and my beleifs with my son many times and they have always been positive and nurturing. I've told him there is a God and he does care.

True I don't go to Church anymore because of the hypocrisy I've seen, especially living in the Boston area.

I can't walk into a house of God no matter what religion and claim I beleive in something when I simply don't because I'd be lying to God about God in a house of God. I won't do that.

The animosity he now has is becuase IMO, he's never had satisfactory answers about the Catholic faith. According to Tom "You have to have faith" just doesn't cut it anymore. I'm just as concerned as my wife is, but I don't beleive forcing him to attend church is going to make matters any better. I think continuing the present course will serve to further the wedge between them.

Unique
08-18-2006, 10:38 PM
I think you should tell him exactly what you told us.

Which seems to me to be this:

I believe in God, that He is the Master of our universe, but I, too have issues with the Catholic Church.

It doesn't get more basic than that. It's honest and it may open dialogue between you and your son. That's always a good thing.

Shadow_Ferret
08-18-2006, 10:56 PM
I'm not sure what you're asking here.

From my position, it's your wife who is being unreasonable expecting your son to not only believe in God (which he doesn't) but to attend church.

He's also at that age where they simply rebell and he's reaching the age of majority where he believes he can be his own man.

My thoughts are, if he's decided he wants to be an athiest, give him your blessings. I doubt after 18 years of trying, you'll change his mind in a few minutes.

Peggy
08-18-2006, 11:01 PM
The animosity he now has is becuase IMO, he's never had satisfactory answers about the Catholic faith. According to Tom "You have to have faith" just doesn't cut it anymore. I'm just as concerned as my wife is, but I don't beleive forcing him to attend church is going to make matters any better. I think continuing the present course will serve to further the wedge between them. I agree that forcing him to attend church isn't going to solve anything. If I were in that position, I would feel very resentful and have negative and rebellious feelings, particularly if dad was "allowed" to stay home on Sunday.

I don't think you can argue anyone into believing in God - at least for me there is no chain of logic or pile of evidence that can prove God's existence or nonexistence. It's a matter of faith. You sharing your own beliefs with him shows him that you don't need to belong to a particular church to be a believer. Even if he seems like he is dismissing you now, I doubt he will forget what you've said, and if and when he is ready to believe, your experiences will be helpful to him.

FWIW I think it's pretty common for people in their late teens and twenties to question the religious beliefs they've grown up with. It's a time of separating from your parents, and that can include your parents church. I think that is especially true if your friends don't have the same religious background.Maybe you could encourage your son to talk to his friends about what they believe - they may tease about church but believe in God themselves (although I get the impression that teenage boys don't typically get into deep philosophical discussions). Another thing you could do is encourage him to attend other churches in your area. He may find a congregation that he feels comfortable with.

I hope you can work out a compromise so that neither your son nor your wife feel like they are on the losing side.

citymouse
08-18-2006, 11:10 PM
SP, True your son is experiencing a spiritual/emotional crisis but all is not lost. In fact nothing is lost to God. It's not important for your son to go looking for God in either in a church, or mosque, or synagogue or any place else for that matter. God will find him when the time is right. And SP. God gets to decide when the time is right, not you or your wife or even your son.
As for having faith and as well as religion, well those two don't necessarily go hand in hand. Faith is God's gift to us. Religion is how we as humans give outward expression in testifying to that faith. One can have religion but if God has not given the gift of faith then the religion becomes a hollow ritual.
One day, if God wills it, your son will feel that mysterious upward tug in his heart, that call from God. He'll recognize it when it happens. The rest is up to him and God.

"There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

P.H.Delarran
08-18-2006, 11:11 PM
i agree with Peggy and Unique. you've already laid the groundwork by sharing your own beliefs with him. he either will or will not come to it..but it needs to be on his own fruition. encourage him to not give up on God yet but be supportive in his decision to make his own choices.
perhaps you yourself might consider looking at other churches and maybe invite him to explore with you. as for your wife, it sounds like she may never understand that there is any other way than the Catholic Church, but it's not her you have to answer to in the end, is it? ;)
(said with all due respect)

and don't forget the power of prayer..remember, you've spent your life encouraging your son to know God, he IS God's child and i bet you that doors will be opening for your son.

good luck with this.

P.H.Delarran
08-18-2006, 11:15 PM
Citymouse was posting while i was... very very wise words there.

Robert Toy
08-18-2006, 11:55 PM
:D Sparhawk

I’ll start at the bottom of your post and try and work upwards: - I apologize now because this will be a long reply, I can’t do short versions, ask anyone...:)

Forcing anyone will never work. This is especially true when it comes to religion. Maybe TMI, but I was raised a Catholic, went to Catholic schools, was an Altar Boy, etc. etc. and Tom sounds a lot like me when I reached his age, a real Doubting Thomas (no pun intended). Like Tom, I “demanded proof”, something I could see and touch. As time went on, like you I drifted further away from the organized religious establishments for different reasons than what you stated, but the outcome was the same. As an Engineer, logic prevails and faith and logic do not co-exist very well. While I never outwardly expressed my doubts, by my not attending church service was something that was obviously seen by my son as an acceptable practice. Go figure?

While I still do not attend church services, my belief in God and to some degree a restoration of my faith in God was reinvigorated many years ago. A good personal friend of mine who happens to be a Catholic priest, and an Air Force Chaplin were having a discussion about the theory of evolution (proven science) v. religious “faith” (zero proof), during the discussion I obviously was tweaking him by asking if he believed in the theory of evolution, surprisingly he said yes he did! Whoa! How can you be a Catholic priest and still believe in evolution? His replies are something that I often quote when having discussions on religion – He asked me “What makes man unique from any other animal on earth?” Being the clever clogs I though I was, I went about defining all the differences, language, ability to reason, perception of self, inventiveness, etc. etc. The one item I left out (forgot) was conscience, the ability to feel regret for something that you have done wrong. Well he, for arguments sake equated having a conscience as having a “soul”, and that while evolution is a proven fact, could it not be possible that God (some unknown force), at some point in the evolutionary chain imparted man with a soul (conscience), thereby “creating man”? That’s is how he reconciles the theory of evolution with the biblical faith that God creating man. I have never been able to figure out a viable answer to that response. Nor has anyone else I have ever asked.

Whew! Finally, getting to the end…Logic is the only thing that will work on teenagers, they can grasp that, attending church on Sunday, sinning the rest of the week and confessing on Saturday, back to church on Sunday is hypocrisy not piety. God, can hear you without being in a church and you can believe or not, it will not alter the facts. Most of all talk to both Tom and your wife. If you believe in a God, explain to them why, if not explain why you don’t. How is that for a meaningless sermon?...

Pat~
08-19-2006, 12:16 AM
Lots of good advice here. I have an 18-yr. old son, and he's at a tricky age--still living at home (he's a senior in high school), but technically an 'adult.' About the only thing we lay down the law on now is 'house rules.' If you live under this roof, you...(help with household chores, let us know where you are, etc. etc.). At this age your son's faith should BE his own already, and it sounds like he's made his choice. I see no value in attempting to force him to go to church. I like the suggestion made earlier about possibly the family exploring various other churches together--but not sure that'll fly with your wife. And even that will only work if dad has a true interest, and son is also willing. For the sake of the marriage, don't let yourself get put in the position of "siding" with either one of them; rather, explore other alternatives together. Good luck to you--this is a tough one.

Sheryl Nantus
08-19-2006, 12:40 AM
I would also suggest to your wife that the Good Lord knows if someone's there for the right reasons. Your son doesn't get "attendance points" for showing up in the pews.

Just because he's not attending Mass doesn't make him a bad Christian or a bad anything - better he not attend and be honest about it than be a hypocrite and show up just to look good.

*He* knows what's in your heart.

KatRiley
08-19-2006, 01:37 AM
You could subsitute any situation of a young adult trying to find their own independence into this post. My son/daugther doesn't want to go to college, wants to join the circus, has decided to never eat leafy green vegetables again. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to minimize the gravity of religion and church. But I see this as just another area in which your son is trying to define who he is.

I would try to take the approach with your wife, that the more she demands he continue going to church, the more he is going to rebel against it. This is just par for the course at this age. Let him make his own decision.

Who knows, in a few years, he may rethink the decision and come back. Or not. Either way, this is all part of the process of stepping back, acknowleging that you've done the best job you could as a parent and letting your child become an adult capable of making his own decision. Even if you don't agree with them.

Roger J Carlson
08-19-2006, 06:00 PM
The Parable of the Rebellious Child

In 1966, my brother announced to my parents that he would never attend church again. He was raised Baptist, attended Sunday School and church, was active in the youth group, and so on. In short he was the model of a young Christian on fire for the Lord. After graduating high school, he attended a Christian college and then decided he would have a better witness if he attended a secular university -- the University of Michigan.

This was in the middle of the radical 60's, free love and anti-establishment. It hit him hard and he renounced all Christianity as "middle-class morality". This nearly destroyed my parents. There were discussions, arguments, and fights. The relationship between my brother and my parents was severely strained for many, many years.

After a while, they just stopped talking about it, but there was always an under-current of tension. My brother and his wife were always defensive. Throughout this, my mother prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And apparently, God never answered, because my brother was still estranged from God. And still she prayed.

Then about 15 years ago, my brother started attending an ethnically diverse, somewhat more liberal Methodist Church. It still fit in with his 60s born liberal ideology. A few years later, he left that church for one that was more grounded in biblical truth and less on a social agenda. And my mother prayed.

This year, 2006, my brother took early retirement from his position as Editor-in-Chief of a large newspaper for -- wait for it -- seminary. At 60 years of age, my brother is going back to school to become a minister. He didn't come back to the Baptist church, he's still Methodist, but the seeds my parents sowed in his childhood, that took hold in his youth, have finally flowered -- 40 years later.

The Bible teaches "Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." It doesn't say he will never depart from it, but it's a promise that the seeds you sow in your children will flower eventually.

Can I tell you that 40 years from now, your son will come back to the Catholic Church? No. But if you and your wife believe that God keeps his promises, then the best thing to do is let your son go and let God work on him. There's nobody better at changing lives.

Robert Toy
08-19-2006, 06:10 PM
Amen

Chacounne
08-19-2006, 06:26 PM
I'll second that Amen.

Love and Hugs,
Heather

SherryTex
08-21-2006, 10:15 PM
What a tremendous amount of pain you three share. People within the Church have done more damage to Catholicism than any outsiders could.

Your son's crisis of faith is tied up in many things, peer pressure, lessons learned from your response to the failings of those in the Church to act morally and responsibly, and adolescent I'm my own person thinking, not to mention being taken kicking and screaming and therefore vowing if only to save face, not to go in the building.

There are many excellent books out there to deal with this sort of a family faith crisis, but it depends on what the end goal is, for you and your son and your wife and your family as a whole.

Three bits of counsel and then a hope.
1) as angry as you may be at the Catholic Church, it seems you are not mad at God, so I would pray for help on this one, big time. I would do this with my wife. I would do it in the form of a rosary decade, saying a petition with each Hail Mary. It can't hurt.
2) Have him Outline (without making fun) his reasons why he does not believe in God or find having a belief in something outside of himself to be of value. A good resource might be C.S. Lewis, who converted from athiesm to Christianity (Mere Christianity is very good), and Albert Camus --if he wants to be an athiest, at least let him understand what that entails and what it means, and why it will be hard to create meaning out of suffering as a consequence. (Myth of Sysyphus) He wants to be an intellectual, let him see what it actually means.
3) Recognize that your wife's faith life is also being mocked and she converted, so she believes. You have to insist, even if you don't believe personally, that her faith life not be mocked out of love for her, and out of respect from a child to an adult, and a son to a mother. This you can give her, and must as her husband.
4) Have your wife and you get educated on the faith itself, rather than focusing on the institution which is run by human beings and thus flawed. Why do Catholics Do that? is an excellent book, as are most of the pieces by Peter Kreeft who lives and works out of Boston College.

Good luck to your family.

Betty W01
08-25-2006, 08:48 PM
I highly agree with City Mouse. I can relate, too, since I've raised four children (church every Sunday, Christian education, and so on) and currently, none of them are attending church anywhere.

My oldest one, who attended church all of her life, spent her first year of college reflecting on what she personally believed, as opposed to what we'd taught her to believe growing up, and ended up attedning a really wonderful church in the college town and more on fire for God than she'd ever been. Sadly, she was killed in a car wreck in 93.

The other three are in varying stages of anger with God over their sister's death (they were 15, 9, & 7), trying to figure out what their own beliefs are, and struggling with the pull of sin over righteousness. I have faith that God will work things out, but the timing is hard for me, since it may be many years before they come back to God. I believe they will, though, and meanwhile I respect their rights to make their own choices and to live with the consequences of those choices (which in some cases have already been very unpleasant).

I also gather with several other mothers of grown children once a week to pray for our children (we call ourselves the "Prodigal Prayer Group"). I know God is in control and loves my kids way more than I ever could. I'll rest in that.

You can't force belief on anyone, and forced church attendance won't help. I sympathize, though, with your wife's concerns. Maybe if you remind her that God can work on people no matter where they are - pew, bar stool, or jail cell - and that the most important thing she can do for your son is pray. Your son may be able to run from you and from the church, but he can't escape from the love of God.

PS It's only fair to say that we did force our kids to attend church - the rule was they had to attend until they turned 18, and they had to dress decently, behave (not talking in church, not distracting others, etc.), and be polite while there - and they all stopped going as soon as they turned 18. (The older son stopped at 16, by dent of leaving the building and walking home while the rest of us were in the meeting. It got so ugly arguing with him every Sunday that we let him quit.) If I had to do it again, I think I'd let them make their own decisions.

However, we looked at our church as family as much as church (still do), and I wanted to keep the kids in the family. I never thought that being there would make them believe or not believe and told them that as long as they weren't rude, their thought life in the meeting was their own business - i.e. they didn't even have to listen, if they didn't want to.

Only the oldest has gone back to church so far, although the two younger will go to church dinners or other gatherings from time to time. Now (as in reality it always was) it's between them and God.

Nateskate
08-25-2006, 09:41 PM
One shoe doesn't fit all feet. But here are some general thoughts concerning parents with adult children. (Remember the age of adulthood in Judaism was much younger than in present cultures)

Some would quote: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old..."

Some Christians misconstrue this proverb to mean any Christian has a right to meddle/push/press any adult offspring their entire lives. There is nothing sadder than that eighty year old mother telling her sixty year old daughter what to wear and who she should date.

From the side view, whenever we see this, we think it's ugly.

The message of the "Prodigal Son" (Luke 15) shows that God allows us to make bad choices, and even to walk away from his household. In a sense, he gave this kid his inheritance- enabling him to go out and squander it with prostitutes in riotous living. A "Christian" parent would justify using that money to manipulate and pressure their kids- go to church, and I'll give you a drop..." It's much harder to risk what love requires, allowing someone to make their own choices.

No Christian can impose their beliefs on another. Jesus didn't run around tackling people. He permitted them to walk away. He didn't scream after the rich young ruler, or try to talk him into changing his mind. The best we can ever do in this life is be "Christ-like" and Jesus said things like, "Who do you say that I am?" - giving them the free option to think things through for themselves.

Controlling parents almost always cause harm. God requires an account, but doesn't micro-manage. If you look at Matthew 25, God gave people money to invest, then left them to figure out what to do. We answer for it, but we make choices. We get a chance to shine or screw up.

Controlling parents don't want to give freedom, but take it away. (I'm not saying you or your wife are- at age 18 I wanted a voice in my sons lives) But at some point that isn't like God- "He whom the son sets free is free indeed..."

Forcing someone to go to church at that age is somewhat like bondage to the law. What can you use since they are legally adults? Pressure? Aproval and disapproval? That doesn't mean we can't speak into their lives as much as they allow. And we should if they allow it. But with wisdom and with no less respect than we speak into anyone's life, but perhaps more love.

If you look at the definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13: "Love hopes all things..." it is optomistic.

"Love...believes all things..." It tends more towards gullibility more than cynacism.

If a child has such a strong reaction- to say they'll never go to church again, the issue isn't church. It's anger at something, and pressuring them is not dealing with the central issue.

Pressuring them would only cause resentment and push them away. It is hard to trust- God- your child. But in the end these are the only things we can do other than working on being more like Christ, and hope that shows through. If that doesn't work- us being the best representative of Christ possible, then the rest is kind of moot.

Just my opinion

Nate

NicoleJLeBoeuf
08-26-2006, 06:56 AM
For what it's worth, I was also a child raised Catholic who, when it came time for Confirmation, refused to go through with the sacrament. Our parish administered it to 8th grade kids, not high school seniors, so I was 13, not 18. But similar situation nonetheless.

My argument--and I delivered it in tears to my mother, sure she would be angry at me--was this: "If I go through with the sacrament, I will be lying my *** off in front of that altar. The sacrament of Confirmation is a sacred oath, and I cannot in good conscience take that oath. From my lips, it won't be true."

To my surprise, my mother agreed with me. "It's OK. I'm not going to make you swear something you don't believe. What would be the point of that?"

(Of course, she kept me going to Sunday School, because that was her oath; and she asked me to at least pretend to go to Mass so that my little brother wouldn't use me as his excuse to sleep in on a Sunday morning. "Niki doesn't have to go; why should I?")

Anyway, Sparhawk, that may or may not be a useful angle to point out to your wife: if your son doesn't believe, then forcing him to go through with Confirmation would be forcing him to commit perjury at the altar. His mother may wish he did believe, but given that he doesn't, there's no good in coercing him to take an oath he cannot keep.

If you find that a useful talking point, by all means, go for it. I think it's a bloody important one.


And on a different note, for what ever else it's worth, I know a handful of atheists, and none of them have trouble creating meaning out of suffering. There are other places to look for it besides God, but that can be hard for those of us to understand who only find that meaning in God (or, in my case, Gods). We all find meaning according to our own hearts; a man who can't find it as an atheist was perhaps not meant to be an atheist, just as a 13-year-old girl who couldn't find it in Catholicism was simply not meant to be a Catholic.

MOON GODDESS
08-26-2006, 09:04 PM
Hi, this is my first visit to this particular forum, but here's my two cents, for what's its worth.
If your wife will be upset, there is not much short, of you and your son embracing the church that will offset her dismay, most likely. (my own amateur analysis)
In my own and similar experiences, you can't force someone to be religious, love God or attend church. It's especially difficult on teens, because peers just aren't that interested in religion, it seems. I went to a school connected with a particular religion and encountered these attitudes from the more rebellious kids.
I've known many people who left the church and years later found a renewed faith and probably some never went back. However, this priest molestation thing shouldn't be a reason to turn away, in my opinion. It is some bad apples among many, and not just Catholic clergy have their guilty. I can think of one famous case, I won't mention, of child murder, where the girl accused her stepfather, a pastor, of molesting her.
You've already talked to a pastor, so if things between you/your wife/son get overwhelming, seek help again.
If your son will soon be 18, he is, legally and otherwise, his own person.
Good luck, and I would also advise praying about the whole situation.

Alex Bravo
09-30-2006, 03:36 PM
While my family attends on Sundays, we never force our boys to go to Church. They go to Sunday School, which is more fun, but not Church because right now they are 7 and 10 and if they go to Church, I'm afraid they'll associate it with pain because it's hard to sit and listen when you don't understand. How fun is it for us to sit and listen to calculus for an hour?

erika
09-30-2006, 05:04 PM
How fun is it for us to sit and listen to calculus for an hour?

Actually, I love Calculus. Don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather hear a lecture on complex analysis and non-Euclidean geometry than Hemingway. Sorry to everyone out there, but we're all different. And I think that's the point. Gotta follow your own path and to hell with where everyone else thinks you should go.

mrsrgm
09-30-2006, 05:22 PM
I am a born again Christian and I don't attend church because I don't like it. Your son can love God and Jesus without a formal church setting. God works in mysterious ways. He'll reach your son in His way when he's ready. Until then, I wouldn't sweat it. God already knows whose names are written in the book of life...

goldpeace
10-03-2006, 10:27 PM
Even being a devout Chrisitian....I have to agree that many churches are so hyocritical nowadays that people equate "God" with what goes on in man-made buildings and with imperfect human beings.

I don't even like the word "religion"- because it too often is used in the negative. People have done horrendous things "In the name of religion".

I believe in One supreme, just, and loving God-
I believe that the bible is the inspired word of God-
And I believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ.

I don't dismiss church altogether- as the bible tells us that as beleivers we need to come together.
But I have to agree that personally I don't feel that it is necessary if it is going to turn someone away from God.

If it was my son- I would try to explain to him that imperfect organizations with imperfect people shouldn't be a reflection on the existence- and loving nature, of God.

Quill
10-05-2006, 06:20 AM
I wanted to add one more perspective. :)

I'm one of those people who, like the OP's son, decided to stop going to church. For me, it was a matter of conscience: I wanted to be honest with myself and with my family, as well as with the church, so I didn't want to sit there and have those around me assume that I believed the same things they did, or could contribute to their community in the same way they could. A few years later, after carefully assembling my thoughts and ideas, I explained to my mother that I lacked a belief in God.

I told her, as I'll tell you, that I have nothing against the idea of God. I just don't believe the idea, intellectually, to be true. And I'm not here to debate that. I respect those of you who hold a faith in a god or gods. :) When I did believe, I saw the beauty in that kind of belief. I understand how cherished beliefs are to people.

But I wanted to put my perspective out here because I want to tell people with "non church going" or "non believing" kids in their families something: everything WILL be okay. Your son or daughter, like me, will find their own way in this life. They'll make lots of friends, and if you keep the doors open and the lights on for them, so to speak, you'll find that they'll always value your support. After I told my own mom that I didn't believe in God, I also told her I loved her, and wasn't trying to step on her toes. She came to terms with it, eventually (I think she's still thinking about it).

But I think it was a bit easier for her to accept when she saw that a) I've still retained the morals I've always basically had. When the Bible says to train a child up in the way he should go, that's not just to do with religion. The MORALS you teach your kids will stay with them for a very long time.... and b) I'm a well-balanced, happy person who fits well into my community. She saw that she'd raised me (as a single mom, no less) and that she'd done an excellent job.

Our choices, once we get a little older, are our own. They're not usually made out of arrogance and rebellion; at least, not the choices that stick in the longterm. The longterm decisions on what we believe, how we want to live etc... those are carefully considered. And, if neccesary, re-considered. Our lives form, our convictions form, our personalities form. While we might change throughout our lives from how we were to how we are now, it can only be a good thing that we have the freedom to stand on our own two feet and assert ourselves. It just shows that our families have done a beautiful job of getting us there. :)

mrsrgm
10-05-2006, 05:32 PM
Well said, Quill. My husband story is almost exactly that and I love him none the less. :Hug2:

Kentuk
10-08-2006, 11:33 AM
I heard apple from the tree. Went ugh but then it occured to me that since it is a big issue in your house you should buy a six pack, talk religion, hear what he has to say and share what you actually believe. If you have doubts share them and how you deal with them.

mrsrgm
10-08-2006, 06:21 PM
Go with Kentuk! He has much knowledge!!

Lavinia
10-17-2006, 10:43 AM
I've read all of the posts here and I can't tell you how sad it makes me feel to know how badly we can hurt each other. Hurts within the church run deep.

It reminds me of something our pastor said once. He said, 'If you find a perfect church, don't join. You'll only mess it up."

I wonder if you have ever experienced God. I mean really experienced Him. I went to a mainline church for years. One Sunday I sat there with my family (parents, kids) and looked around. Every face I saw looked gloomy. And the thought that came to me was, 'this place is dead.' At the time, I was dragging my very small children to church, and my husband was not in the least bit interested in going. He went only on Easter and Christmas. But when I talked about looking for a new church, he argued with me and wanted to stay at the mainline church.

Finally, I mustered up some courage and left. I went to a few churches. When I went to this one, non-denominational church, I knew I was "home." It was so different. The pastor was happy and animated. He was excited about preaching. I was learning like I"d never learned before (and I didn't nod off once). The music filled the small church, like angels were in the choir. I looked around at the people in the pews and thought, 'whatever it is they've got, I want it.'

For the next year I begged, pleaded and even resorted to manipulation to get my husband to go. He wouldn't. Then he went once and said he hated it. He left before the service was even over. I was devestated that I couldn't share this with him. But I finally let him go. I gave it all up to God. I told God, 'hey, if you want him here, You're going to have to do the work, 'cause apparently I'm not qualified for this job.' This was not a one-time thing. I had to remind myself that I'd given the situation to God, all the time, especially on Sundays when he was still in bed, or watching T.V. or when my kids said it wasn't fair that Daddy got to stay home and play.

It took three long years before he set foot in the church again. Today he would tell you that my leaving the mainline church saved his life and mine. It saved our marriage and our children.

One of my children is grown and has not returned to the church yet. Another is a teenager who argues with me about it every Sunday. But I am claiming Divine Precidense (sp?). God did it before and He can do it again.

All of this to say- If you focus on yourself and your relationship with God, the rest will fall into place. I promise you it will. When you stand before your Maker, you won't be able to stand behind your wife and blame her. You won't be able to point at your wayward child or the things you experienced in a denomination. You will stand alone, accounting for your life and how you've led it.

I pray that you find a place that is filled with Joy, a place that feeds your soul. And I pray that when you find it, others will look at you and say, "whatever it is that that Guy has, I want it."

Lavinia