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Why This Christian Isn’t Raising Her Children In A Church.

Indoctrination in children- and my views on it.

By Hope MartinPublished 2 months ago 12 min read
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Created by Starry AI

I live in the Bible Belt, in the beautiful state of Tennessee. My state is famous for several things: The Vols, Memphis and Elvis, Rocky Top, Dolly Parton, Trees and Jesus. I love my state, and for the most part, I love my community. 

Where I live, there are at least two churches per square mile of civilization. There is a copious amount of churches - and in my opinion, kind of ridiculous. There are not enough people to fill the amount of churches we have. They are nice to look at, however, so I don't complain. Some churches also provide much-needed help to the needy of our community by providing food, clothing, and help for those who need it. 

When you meet someone from my neck of the woods for the first time, chances are they are going to ask you: "What church do you go to?" And if you have a church, they will nod politely, tell you what church they go to, and politely invite you to theirs, and if you don't have a church, they get very excited and try to recruit you for next Sunday or Wednesday. It's a whole ritual. 

Imagine the hassle I used to put myself through, trying to be polite. Years ago, I would accept these invitations, in hopes of finding a church I did belong in. No such luck, unfortunately. I have nothing against people who go to church, I just don't limit myself to the words and interpretations of another human being who got ordained on the internet or even by another human who went to priest school. I tend to disagree with people too much, and their 'opinions' on what a book that isn't real history says. 

Now, if someone asks me where I go to church, I tell them I go to church in the city with some friends. It avoids the whole recruitment issue. 

My Mom did not make us go to church - even though she believes in God. 

Growing up, when I was young, my mom didn't talk about God a lot, but she did talk about angels. If you ask her, she was convinced I was friends with an angel. When she was a truck driver, her handle was: "Blue Eyed Angel Haired Mama." She says that one day when I was little, I stroked her hair and said: "Mommy, your hair is as soft as angel wings."

"How do you know that?" she had asked me, and she says my response was:

"Because I have touched an angel wing! My angel friend let me touch hers." When she asked if I knew an angel, I told her that my best friend is an angel, and she was always with me. This was before Mom ever started talking about Angels and God to me. She doesn't know where I would have gotten these ideas at 4 years old. 

After that, she started talking about it a little more, singing me songs like "I'm In the Lord's Army," and "Crayonbox." If I asked a question, she would keep it very general when explaining about God. The basis of the explanations was that God was God, and Angels were his helpers who were there to protect us as children until we didn't need them anymore. God made people, and we are his children and he loves us. 

That was the extent of her explanations, even as I got a little bit older. One day, in middle school, I was invited to church by a friend. I asked my mom about it, and she allowed me to go. And for about a year, I went. I always went home more confused than not. I would pester her about the sermon and what she thought the preacher meant. Even then, as a child, some things did not add up. 

I was confused, and it caused anxiety.

As a kid, I was very intellectual. I was asking my mom questions at 4 years old: "Mom, why do people say the ocean is blue when it's really green?" And: "Why are some boogers green, and some clear?" "If the world is round, and it spins, why don't the people on the bottom fall into space?"

So imagine my poor mother's position when I am asking her questions that she didn't know how to answer. "Mom, I learned in science class that we come from monkeys, but the preacher said we were made by God exactly how we are. Which one is the truth? Is that preacher lying to us?"

I would ask my mom things like: "Mom… does God REALLY hate gay people? Does that mean God hates my sister's dad? Or Uncle Mike and Curtis?"

"But Uncle Mike believes in God, and loves him. He says God loves him, even if he is gay and with Uncle Curtis. So does that mean, God doesn't like that he's gay, but he forgives him?" 

These were questions that my mom would sigh at, and tell me: "Honey. I don't think God hates anyone, ever. God loves everyone remember? Even sinners. That's why he had Jesus die for us. Uncle Curtis and Uncle Mike are just fine the way they are. They are in love, and I don't think God could hate love. One day, when you get to heaven and meet God, you will get to ask for yourself."

Of course, being young, that would make me mad. I would be super old by the time I would get to meet God, and what if I forgot my question?

Logical analytical intelligent children should not go to church okay - it traumatizes them. I couldn't sleep for weeks, agonizing over things like this. Still, I was told that if I didn't go to church and get saved and baptized, I would go to hell. And from what they were saying hell was, I did NOT want to go there.

So even though I wasn't quite convinced, or sure, and I was super confused, I got saved anyway. And I'm like, 11 years old at this point. I believed in God, I was just really confused about what that meant now. There were all these rules, and I saw people I go to church with breaking these rules - the same people that had invited me.

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None of it made sense, and it made my brain itch. So I went to my best friend and the woman who knows everything in the world, my mom. She sat me down and told me this: 

"Honey. There is no right answer. We did come from monkies. But that doesn't mean God isn't real. I believe in all the Gods, even the bad ones. The one I pray to though, is God. I believe, because so many people believe in the Gods, the Gods manifest. They become real. Some Gods were created a long time ago, much longer than the God we pray to. The point is, if you believe in God, then you just need to pray to God. Don't take what the preacher says literally. Think of what he is saying like in school: You read a fairy tale, and your teacher explains what the moral of the story is, and what the lesson it's supposed to bring. It's his job to teach the people in church the morals of the stories in the Bible. It helps people remember how to be kind. "

As an adult, I asked my Mom why she didn't take us to church.

I found out she was scorned by a church when she was young because she was making medicinal herbal teas for some elderly people - and they spread the rumor that she was a witch. 

Funny, how unkind people of God can be. 

So I started learning about God on my own.

The internet had become a whole thing by the time I was in high school. I began to do my research. I read countless articles on religion. I became confused about why there were so many different religions in Christianity - and why they were isolated when they all worshipped the same God.

I delved into other religions. I learned about Paganism and Wiccan, I had made friends with a man from Pakistan who spoke very good English, and I asked him to teach me about the Muslim religion. I researched the origins of major holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Halloween and found their origin stories - and how Christianity had stolen the concepts to force conversion in the past.

 I stopped going to Church after seeing people in these Churches act like… heathens. And every time in the future I tried to reconnect with God, a person would ruin it. Whether it be a pastor, a teacher, a church member, or a particular sermon. 

In my twenties, I spent arguing with myself about my beliefs. I would stand up for God against people who had anything to say about it, but… internally I was still confused.

What was it exactly that I believed? 

One day, life was bad. It was the kind of give up, fall on my knees, and scream to the universe kind of bad. I remember being curled up on the ground and sobbing, begging God:

"If you are real, if you are listening, I'm not going to survive down here. I need your help. Please help me."

And I felt a strange warmth, a weird kind of peace fill me. It was powerful. The next day, my prayer was answered when the mail ran. The answer to my most pressing issue was delivered to me in an envelope. 

I decided then and there that… God was real. I didn't know much, but I knew God was real. I decided to throw away everything I'd ever learned in a church or online and make my own conclusions. I didn't need anyone to tell me a damn thing. God was real, and God themself saved me that day. 

Mom's Reason For Not Indoctrinating Me Young Was Eye-Opening

After I had children, I was once again confronted by the anxiety and pressure of going to church. People would want me to bring my young daughter. I did take her to church a few times. And I knew she wouldn't have the attention span for it. A few times she was 'that' kid, running up the aisle and hugging the preacher and throwing his vibe. 

I once again, went to the woman who knows everything and asked her why she didn't take us to church as children. 

She looked at me with a raised brow and said: "Can you imagine your ADD hyperactive brother in the church at 4 years old? Are you crazy?" After we had a good laugh, she got serious. 

"I didn't take you to church as children, not only because of what happened to me but because I learned, on my own, that the best relationship with God is found on your own when it isn't forced. I wanted you to believe in whatever you wanted to believe in. And I wasn't going to force you to believe in anything. I wanted to raise you and teach you to be kind, and good, not because you're being told you'll go to hell if you don't, but because you wanted to be good, and kind. Without a motive. And I wanted you to find your faith on your own. When you were old enough to understand what faith is. I wanted you to be able to decide what you believe in, without being told what to believe in. So, I let you figure it out on your own in your adulthood, and guided you the best I could without manipulating you as much as possible. " - My mom - a few years ago

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And that was the most amazing thing my mom could have ever done for my faith in God. 

Every time I went to church, I left feeling unfulfilled. Not all sermons were bad, mind you, but I think every person who has gone to church and left feeling unsatisfied with the message they got that day understands the feeling I am talking about. 

But, the day I fell to my knees on my own and surrendered to him without anyone to witness or judge, I finally, FINALLY found that feeling, that connection with God that I had been searching for. I had heard others talk about it, but that was my first time FEELING it. 

I decided then and there to think for myself and put together my views on what God is. In essence, it's very simple:

God created humans to be flawed. We do not have to be perfect. So long as we love each other, love God, and do our best to leave this world better than we found it, we're doing okay. So long as we live our best lives, and do our best to not harm others, there's not a whole lot of requirements to being one of God's children. 

I've also concluded that religion taints and manipulates faith, and turns it into an overcomplicated argument that makes people who believe in… the same thing… hate each other for no reason. 

I don't want my children to be indoctrinated. I want them to be manipulated. I want them to have what I have: A loving relationship with God, with absolute faith, and few expectations except the feeling of security in their soul. 

I want to teach them to solve things on their own, and to take accountability for the things that happen. I don't want to provide a scapegoat for them. I want them to grow up - and when they find God it'll be because they had a moment, where they knew in their heart and soul that it was God - or whatever they decide to believe in.

And if it just so happens to be a God of a different name… I will respect that too.

Because they are my children, and I love them- and all I want is for my children to be sure of themselves, and whatever they decide to believe in.

immediate familyvaluesparentshumanityfact or fictionCONTENT WARNINGchildrenadvice
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About the Creator

Hope Martin

I am a published author of a book called Memoirs of the In-Between. I am doing a rewrite of it, as it needed some polishing. I am a mom, a cook, a homesteader, and a second-generation shaman.

Find me on Medium also!

@kaseyhopemartin

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