A couple of days ago I published a Diary called "They Teach Their Children to Hate"
While I am slowly getting used to living among the Evangelical Religious Right, they still manage to shock me. Today I got another lesson in why it is reasonable to not underestimate the power of the Cult.
In this case, the Cult is the Southern Baptist Convention.
What follows comes straight from the thoughts of a fairly typical teen.
Update: It is worth pointing out that I have been regularly asked what it is like, being liberal, and atheist, and living where we do. This Diary, and those I write that are similar, are aimed squarely at describing that situation.
The details of the story, the example if you like, are rather less important than the issues raised.
The real issue here is how the Southern Baptists are raising their children, where the next generation of Evangelical Christians is being developed, and how Rick Santorum grew up to become ... er ... Rich Santorum!
As a Dad I am fiercely protective of my kids. I do not respond well when they are hurt, and especially when that pain is inflicted by another. Sure the intellectual side of me simply accepts that growing up is not a pain free business. Learning the boundaries of social behaviour is hard. We all went through it and in that experience lies the concerns of a parent. We want to protect them, but we know we can't, and actually, we shouldn't even try.
We have to let them experience some level of distress, and we try to ensure that happens in as controlled an environment as possible, and that we are there to pick them up when they stumble. As stumble they will, and they must.
My daughter's early forays into "affairs of the heart" are, apparently, causing her less distress than they are provoking in me. I hope that is a tribute to the way her Mom and I have always encouraged her to explore, to question, and to be her own person.
But there is more than a simple "boy meets girl, boy dumps girl" thing going on here. What is happening to this boy, so typical of so many in this town worries me. Mackenzie will be fine, but I wonder about the path being followed by many others.
What follows is the transcripts of two Facebook posts lifted directly from the pages of the boy concerned. My daughter showed them to Mrs Twigg, they were posted in full view to anyone who could access the page, which is pretty much everyone who has any contact with this boy's school, friends or Church. All the names have been either removed or disguised, this is for the content, not the identities.
One the one hand this boy is intelligent and thoughtful. I simply worry about what he is thinking. Read it, form a view, then please talk me down:
Listen guys, I've been in deep prayer with God lately. I've seen multiple signs from him and many people just talking about the subject of dating. My Youth Group even started a new study on Wednesday nights for it! I have done alot of research in God's Word, and I've realized having a girlfriend isn't the best for me, or anybody really.My own thoughts on this are far from clear. First thing that springs to mind is that maybe I should forward it to his English teacher, because the spelling and grammar could use a little work. This is swiftly followed by a growing dismay that a child would create any part of this then post it for everyone in his life to see and comment on. I didn't, comment that is.
1) It distracts you from God and into the world's ways.
2) God's plan isn't for me to be dating so young. If you want to see a big fraction of my logic here, check out 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. I hope everybody understands that I cherished my relationship with **, and it was hard for me to let her go. It wasn't done lightly. I questioned God multiple times, begging there had to be another way, but the answer stayed the same. I'm sorry if I've offended anybody with my desicion, but I have a sense of security in my heart that God has led me the right way
For those of you wondering about my life atm (skip to the bottom for my view):
Optimist view: You got to stay at home today! It was a good day of rest, and to top it off you were well enough to be at the NJHS graduation! About your girl problems....there are other fish in the sea.
Pessimist view: You were sick, so make-up work over the weekend. Of course, you THOUGHT you could go to the NJHS graduation, but your face started turning bright red because of your fever right when you were walking up there. Plus, you lost your girl friend. Good job.
Literalist view: You missed a day of school. You lost your girlfriend. You suceeded in learning some new things today musicly though, plus you went to your NJHS ceremony. I'm nuetral.
Critic view: You didn't feel to bad, you should've convinced your mom to let you go to school! And what's up with dumping your girlfriend the week before Valentine's Day? Hmmm? Pretty ignorant I'd say. And what's up with this stupid post with all of these different views....
Aethiest View: You dumped your girl friend because of a God? Dumb.
Christian View: I'm praying for you man :) You seem to have things under control with your sickness, and emotionaly your pretty strong. Congrats on your NJHS, and as long as you stick with God things will be just fine.
Strong Christian View: These guys don't know what they are talking about ^^ You know exactly what you're doing. God is really working in your life right now, and I know you're finding ways right now to evangilise with it. I also respect your desicion on letting your girl off, but lightly. God's plan for your life was NOT to have you dating at 13, and that pretty much goes for everybody reading this post!
MY VIEW: Listen guys, I've been in deep prayer with God lately. I've seen multiple signs from him and many people just talking about the subject of dating. My Youth Group even started a new study on Wednesday nights for it! I have done alot of research in God's Word, and I've realized having a girlfriend isn't the best for me, or anybody really.
1) It distracts you from God and into the world's ways.
2) God's plan isn't for me to be dating so young.
If you want to see a big fraction of my logic here, check out 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. I hope everybody understands that I cherished my relationship with **, and it was hard for me to let her go. It wasn't done lightly. I questioned God multiple times, begging there had to be another way, but the answer stayed the same. I'm sorry if I've offended anybody with my desicion, but I have a sense of security in my heart that God has led me the right way.
Quite frankly I don't know what to say.
"Hey kid, love the introspection but next time pick someone else's daughter will ya".
"Son, you can talk to your imaginary friend until the cows come home, but do that to Mackenzie again and you will be talking to me".
"Young man. It is considered impolite to use girls to work out your relationship with your God".
See ... Lots of potential responses, all of them rubbish.
To anyone out there who is tempted to think that the way organised churches are helping their young people develop (sic) is in any way benign, I urge you to read that again and understand that it is but a small insight into what our children are facing every day. That is today, tomorrow, then next day and all the days after that until they are old enough to either reject it, or be buried under it.
Remember too that in this area, this boy could post that on his Facebook wall and be assured of a very positive reaction or, as in my case, no reaction because .... I feel for him and his entire circle and ...
I am quite lost for words.
It would be easy for me to be reading far too much into this, because I am a Dad, and she is my gorgeous daughter. I would wholly accept that suggestion were it not simply that this is but one example. There are many others.
10:19 AM PT: Guys ... please :)
This Diary is not about the dating habits of my daughter. Please read the first Diary, the one linked in the Intro where the "dating" aspect is made perfectly clear.
This is about the culture and climate in my town. It is about how the children are raised, the thoughts and feeling being grafted on to them and that they then display in School and everywhere else.
This is about how Evangelical Fundamentalism is born and nurtured until one day, in a town near you or a neigboring city, and Abortion Clinic is bombed, or contraception is made illegal.
Read past my daughter, she is just fine :)