“My religious fundamentalist childhood was built around the fear of sin. My daughters don’t even know the word.”
This is the sentence that made me open an article from a news source I never read.
‘As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she looked up at me with solemn hazel eyes.
“Mama, what is sin?” she asked.
The merriment of the fair receded and I stared at her, my brain spinning with the magnitude of her question. By failing to teach my child the meaning of the word sin, had I somehow failed to give her a moral foundation?
Sin. That tiny word still makes me cringe with residual fear. Fear of being judged unworthy. Fear of the eternal torture of hell. Fear of my father’s belt.”‘
This is an excerpt from The New York Times article, Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin.
As I read the author’s words, I wanted to reach through the screen and pull her close, hug her, and whisper, “You are known and loved.”
Honestly, without love at the core of everything, we can become focused more on issues than people. If I’m honest, I can lose sight of the people behind the issues they stand upon. We are surrounded by broken hearts in need of truth wrapped in love.
Our life experiences become a filter through which we see life. Had I been raised in the same environment described in this article, I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same way about God and sin.
“God was a megaphone bleating in my head: “You’re bad, you’re bad, you’re bad!” I had recurring nightmares of malevolent winds tornado-ing through my bedroom — a metaphor, I now realize, for an invisible and vindictive god.”
Note the little ‘g’ use for God.
Oh, the deception of the enemy on this precious child of God. Raised in a home that didn’t know God yet used Him as a form of fear and punishment. And what’s a child to do?
Our natural inclination is to project our earthly father onto our Heavenly Father.
No matter how good or heinous our earthly father is, that’s not God. One man in all humanity is a picture of God. Jesus.
Perfect, spotless, righteous, kind, just, loving, tender, merciful. He alone is the only one who can give us a picture of the Father.
“At 17, after being caught “fornicating” with my high school boyfriend, I was sent to a Christian reform school where children were beaten in the name of God. It was there that I learned that religion has nothing to do with goodness and there’s a strong link between zealotry and hypocrisy.”
I agree with her statement. Religion has nothing to do with goodness. The “religious” killed Jesus. Christianity is not a religion. It’s a relationship.
“I lost my faith by fits and starts.”
“Religious brainwashing imposed from infancy is hard to shake, and I continued to confuse “Christian” with “trustworthy” and “moral.”
Again I agree, religious brainwashing is hard to shake. So much evil has been birthed in the name of religion.
Because someone proclaims to be a christian doesn’t make it so. At the same time, I have done and said things that misrepresent Christianity.
“When my husband and I contemplated having children, I wondered how I’d teach them right from wrong without a church. I toyed with the idea of dropping them off at a Sunday school, where they could ingest bite-sized chunks of morality in catchy songs and coloring books. But my husband — Catholic by culture, atheist by intellect — wanted nothing to do with organized religion.”
Implanted deep in the heart of every human is a hunger and thirst for truth, goodness, and love. We were all created in the image of God with a heart designed to love Him and long for Him. That’s why we spend our lives searching for meaning and significance. When we finally encounter the God of the universe, we find our place. Right in His arms, the ones outstretched toward us since the beginning of time.
“As a girl, my focus was on gaining admittance to heaven. Now I believe that this life is the only life we’ll know; this planet, our only existence. I am no longer motivated by fear of an unproven hell, but by real-world concerns about injustice and inequality.”
God, too, is concerned with real-world concerns and injustice. So much so that He sent His only Son to the cross on our behalf. To right the wrongs and defeat evil and death once and for all.
You know, I was once a girl focused on working my way to heaven too. I worked my entire life to be good enough. That was an impossible feat. At various points I’d throw my hands up and say, “It’s just too hard.” And I’d go my own way. At 23 I had an encounter with God. A switch flipped in my brain shining light on the darkness that surrounded my false beliefs of living a perfectly holy life to work my way to God.
I remember saying, “That’s it, God! I get it now. It IS impossible for me to be good enough to make my way to heaven. That’s why you sent Jesus to die in my place.” A lifetime of the knowledge right before my very eyes that I never understood.
It was a word I’d never understood, used in church circles by “good” people. Grace. What in the world did it mean? I thought I knew, but until that light bulb moment, that word lived in the dark of my understanding.
This life isn’t the only life we’ll know. If so, what would be the point of it all? If it simply just ends and goes away. Why? There must be more. There is more.
The author refers to an unproven hell, choosing instead to place her faith in her unproven belief that this life is all we’ll know. Both beliefs require a level of faith. She didn’t lose her faith. She simply took her once faith in a God and placed it her own ideas and thoughts.
But I don’t fault her. The one I fault -Satan. The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The one who is out fighting for souls. To blind the people into believing heaven and hell isn’t real is to win them to the darkness. A forever eternity void of all hope.
“I gazed into Davia’s upturned face and felt a rush of love and happiness. I had raised her without sin.”
None of us are born without a knowledge of sin in our souls. We all know. Deep down we know. While her daughter might not know the term and definition, inside she knows.
“An explanation of sin could wait.”
It was the closing sentence that caught my breath. “An explanation of sin could wait.” It can’t wait. We aren’t promised our next breath. We don’t know the time or day that will be our last moment on this earth. And when we depart, life continues after. The choice is ours. Will we choose heaven or hell? The choosing happens now in this life. Once we depart this life, it’s too late.
This New York Times article reflects the real beliefs of thousands and thousands of people. Would you join me today in praying for the ones who have believed the enemy’s lies? Let’s ask God to intersect our lives with these people who need to hear that God is not an invisible, vindictive God. Let’s wrap them in love and pour into them out of the overflow He’s poured into us.
Time is fleeting.