Last week, we began a study on “The Theology of Sexuality” in order to better equip our youth with a more solid understanding of the nature of their physical selves in relation to their spiritual selves.
Today, I saw this article in the Huffington Post Religion section, asking, “What would we our younger selves about faith?” Most respondents, both those quoted in the article and those who are writing in the comments section, essentially said, “don’t believe any of it.”
I experience two things when I see something like this.
First, a lack of surprise. The way faith and religious practice has been taught has been damaging for many. We give children a magical, fairy-tale faith structure, and no tools then to address the real problems that show up later with such a foundation. That’s why we’ve started this study–our kids don’t live in a fairy tale world, and offering them a fairy tale God is useless at best and exceedingly damaging at worst.Second, heartbreak. Why aren’t we giving our “younger selves” a better foundation? Why don’t we offer much space for doubt and questions and soul agony and exploration? Almost all young people growing up in a church environment will experience a shipwreck of faith when exposed to a wider world of scholarship.
In the best of worlds, the ship that has wrecked has such good wood in it that it can be rebuilt into something that can carry people into adulthood with maturing faith understandings.
In the worst of worlds, we have what the responders noted on the article cited above: an early faith life that has left them feeling alone, deceived, and angry.
It’s time to start embracing that shipwreck and preparing for it, rather than just hoping it won’t happen. It does and it will.