I was at a retirement home, giving my thoughts on a passage of scripture. They knew I had once been a minister and that I now no longer believed.
A woman asked me, “What would you say if your child asked you, “Did Jesus really walk on water? Did he really feed five thousand people? Would you tell them that it really happened just as it exactly as it says in the Bible?
I took a moment to gather my thoughts.
“When my children were little,” I said, “I did tell them that I thought it happened just as it said in the bible because back then I did believe. However, I would answer differently today. I’d say something like… ‘Many good people believe these things really happened. However, it doesn’t seem likely that these things could occur. So, no, I don’t believe they did.’”
She nodded… accepting my answer, which was good because it was the only one I had.
A year or so before I left Christianity and was still wrestling with my beliefs, I taught a confirmation class for the young teens in my church. I reviewed church teachings with them and I talked about heaven, forgiveness, and the salvation through Jesus Christ.
I can still say what I said then:
“Your parents baptized you when you were little and raised you to hear the teachings of the church. But confirmation is your chance to take ownership of your thoughts and beliefs. Nobody can make you. Not your parents. Not me. Even God won’t.”
They all chose to go ahead with the ceremony because, in truth, they were still too young to decide for themselves. Evaluation of family beliefs usually happens during the college years when they are being trained to think critically for themselves. That’s when they start deciding for themselves what they believe.
I have always shied away from telling people what they HAVE to believe. I still do.
On the other hand, I’m more than happy to say what I think is true, and I will argue strenuously with grownups who know (or should know) how to think for themselves.