“I don’t think I should cram religion down my child’s throat!”
Sound familiar? It was the theme of an entire generation. Many people in our era were raised by parents who found church boring while growing up, so they decided to not put their own kids through the same experience. “After all,” went the rationale, “they can decide for themselves when they grown up.”
Well, we are grown up now. And rather than saying, “Thank you,” many of us are asking, “How could you?”
Douglas Coupland’s rather disturbing novel Life after God captures the spirit of an entire generation whose parents neglected spiritual instruction in the name of “protecting” their kids from dogmatism. It didn’t work. His story is of a young man going from one empty experience to another in the vain hope of finding meaning in life–only to discover he has no story beyond his own. The result? In his words:
“I was wondering what was the logical end product of this recent business of my feeling less and less. Is feeling nothing the inevitable end result of believing in nothing? And then I got to feeling frightened–thinking that there might not actually be anything to believe in, in particular. I thought it would be such a sick joke to have to remain alive for decades and not believe in or feel anything.”
He goes on to say that his state of mind was in part the result of being “raised without religion by parents who had broken their own pasts…who had raised their children clean of any ideology…at the end of history, or so they had wanted to believe.” In other words, his folks didn’t want to cram religion down his throat. So he, like others of our generation, was given nothing in which to believe. The result? Freedom from the “shackles” of religious dogma imprisoned him to a life without meaning.
Coupland gets painfully honest about such a harsh reality. He knows that without God nothing is sacred, so everything is meaningless. Or, in the words of King Solomon, “Meaningless! Meaningless!…Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
As parents it is our job to give our children a framework for living–to equip them with a strong sense of identity that comes from knowing who made them, who they are, and how they fit into the larger drama of life. We must help them understand their story from the Author’s perspective, to enjoy the wonder that comes from knowing that with God everythings is sacred, so nothing is meaningless. Put simply, we want them to grow up with God.
Steve Stroope, It Starts at Home, p. 66-68.