Updated: Feb 1
Growing up, many of us spent a lot of time in church. It was often the social hub of our neighborhood. In some ways, religion was secondary to the social aspects of church. However, as we grew older, the bible studies and indoctrination became more intense, and many of us came to feel that church just wasn't for us. The millennial generation goes to church much less than previous generations, and that can often be hard to reconcile with our parents' beliefs.
As religion has increasingly become intertwined with politics in recent years, many of us in the younger generation no longer feel like our moral and social values are represented by the church. This can be difficult when we try to reconcile our feelings about religious politics with the simpler version of religion that we knew in our youth.
Today, if we agree to go to church, it is like saying that we accept the moral values of the church, as depicted in politics and by the media.
The church has drifted from the words of Christ, and values like acceptance and love. It has come to represent intolerance and bigotry, which are not the values of the bible at all. As the church drifts away from Christ, and from the bible, so many of us as millennials drift away from the church.
Explaining our feelings to our parents.
When my mother asked me why I don't go to church anymore, I told her that I think the way that people treat each other is more important than what they believe.
Faith without works is dead.
"14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2: 14-26)
When we know the bible, we can't be content with staying in a church that isn't following the bible today. It is just like the temple in the days of Jesus, with moneylenders everywhere. It isn't the house of the Lord anymore.
I also told my mother that I had seen people asked to leave the church through the back door when they asked for help. My friend who was gay. My friend who got raped. They went to the church for help and were turned away.
Jesus accepted everyone around him, sinners and tax collectors were his disciples. He forgave, and taught us to forgive others. But the church that I left didn't do that. They thought that as "church people" they were better than the people that were in the world.
"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)
What puts someone above someone else, that they can judge their own sin to be less than someone else's? Why does the church feel like it needs to police people's bodies when it comes to abortion rights, and LGBTQ+ rights? How did those become the issues that the church has chosen as its hill to die on?
"Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-3)
When religious people decide to cast judgement on everyone else as though they are "better" it has served to alienate almost a generation of us who have become unchurched millennials.
I used the failings of religion to explain to my mom why I left the church, and she didn't have much to say after that. I told her that it is liberals feeding the poor and helping the sick. Not conservatives, who claim to be religious above all else. Religious is no longer synonymous with good.
As for my children, I want to teach them morals and values. I want them to teach them to do right for the sake of others, and for the sake of being good. I don't want them to do the right things because of a fear of hell or judgement. Goodness for its own sake is valuable.
Maybe you have become an atheist, an agnostic, or a Buddhist like I am. Or, maybe you are still Christian and just don't believe in the church anymore. Whatever is the case, we choose our own value systems. Our values are a central feature of who we are as people. It is our values that we want to pass on to our children.
Explaining to our parents that we don't see our way in the church anymore doesn't have to mean that we are abandoning them. That is the most important thing to let them know.
Just because we don't believe what our parents believe, that doesn't mean that we don't love them. It is important to let them know that above all. Be gentle with them while you tell them that you have chosen another way, it is difficult for the older generation to understand and adjust to new ways.
Religion doesn't mean the same things in society that it used to. Instead of being a refuge for the weary, it has become a bludgeon to be used against anyone who is different.
Instead of having to feel like we are on the defensive when we tell our parents that we aren't taking our children to church, we can instead feel like we are defending both our children and our values.
Of course it will be a difficult conversation to have, so remember to have compassion for your parents too.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you talked to your parents about taking the grandkids out of church? How did you do it.
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