Imagine that you have a child. I (as a trusted adult) walk up to your child and tell her that she is a sinner. I inform your child that she's been a sinner since the day she was born. She'll always be a sinner, but the good news is that someone had to die a horrible death because of her sins. I'll try to do this fairly often. Offended yet? It's okay. Maybe she doesn't believe me at first. Her critical thinking skills kick in.
She asks Why is that a good thing? Who is this person? I know he's dead now, but did you ever meet him?
I respond His name is Jesus. No, I never met him, but if you just believe that he died for you, then all of your sins will be forgiven. Isn't that wonderful?
She says I don't know. This sounds a little strange. What happens if I don't believe this story?
I answer Well, if you don't believe it, then you will burn in hell for all of eternity when you die. Okay, now you should be offended. From there her critical thinking skills will die a slow death and maybe her sense of self-worth, too.
I'm certain that most Christians would consider that scenario a gross misrepresentation of their belief system. When distilled down, is it really? Christian fundamentalists could not stray too far from this lest they be called progressive. Not only did I teach my own children this message, but I could have taught your kids this, as well. It sickens me that I couldn't see it for what it is, an emotionally and psychologically abusive message. When my oldest was around 8 years of age, she would regularly ask me if she was a sinner. I would always tell her that we're all sinners, but that thankfully, we have a savior. I was completely blind to what was really going on in her little mind. She wanted so badly to be so good, and she was good! But she knew deep down that she still wasn't good enough. I don't know if I can get over that.
Will every child internalize the destructive, fear-based reality that Christianity offers? Of course not. Some will escape unscathed and unbothered. They will be the lucky ones whose rational thinking won out in the end. Others will enter adulthood too indoctrinated to perceive the potential harm. Still, others, like me, will come out with their heads buried in their hands asking themselves How did I believe this? Why...
In my last post, I mentioned Christian apologist and blogger, Natasha Crain, who has recently written two influential parenting books with a third on the way. Her first book called Keeping Your Kids on God's Side was written with the distinct goal of equipping parents to "replace your children's doubts with the confidence only God's truth can give." While I have no interest in attacking Christians, I do have an interest in attacking what I am convinced is an extremely harmful message regarded as truth. My goal is to review each chapter of her book in my upcoming posts and provide counter arguments to views that she submits as a reasonable defense of God through a Christian lens. Why should I care what she or any other apologist has to say? Because every child deserves the chance to confidently and reasonably doubt "God's truth," to know that they did not enter this world a sinner, and No, there's no evidence to support a place called hell.