Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How parents respond to kid's religious doubts

In the deconversion study that I'm working on, one of the things that surprised us was how many of the narratives spoke negatively of Christian's reactions to doubt. The usual scenario would go something like this: Person has doubts or questions, asks family member/ friend who is a Christian, person gets pat answers or hostile responses, person further disaffected with Christianity.

Here's a video clip that illustrates this process to somewhat of an extreme. (Course language). Now, most parents would be more dignified in their responses, but I would imagine many would use a similar approach of attempted power & complete lack of empathy...

8 comments:

Corey said...

It makes sense that doubters are met with hostility. Doubt is both dangerous and contagious. It threatens the faith.

I started doubting while a student at a Christian Liberal Arts College. When I shared these doubts with my small group, I experienced hostility and ridicule. This is one of the reasons I walked away from the faith.

kent said...

Wow, what a clip. I wonder who was the stealth videographer.

Brad Wright said...

Corey, that's exactly the type of story we found a lot... that Christians accelerate the way out with their response.

Kent, I agree. Maybe the kid had a sibling film it... seems like he knew it was filmed.

Peter said...

I seriously considered leaving my Christian roots when I allowed myself to voice many of my doubts. I was surprised at the hostility to my doubts - surely we all go through times of doubt in our lives, perhaps some of us more seriously than others.

However it was through my doubts and the exploration that I was forced to do in their wake that I came to embrace my faith more completely. I suppose it was because I made a concious decision that genuine questioning was something I desired to have as a part of my life in all domains; perhaps it was because I discovered that through my doubts God could reveal himself to me in an extremely personal manner, in a way that only I could understand.

This is part of the reason why, unlike many other philosophers who are Christians, I don't do the philosophy of religion. I find it takes away from the value of my personal experience with God and my interaction with him as I share my doubts with him on a daily basis.

Maybe I'm an exception?

S.S.Stone said...

A few years ago when I questioned my faith I was received warmy and guided well. I fought it all the way though...but in the end it was the Spirit that took over and I grew stronger in my faith than I had ever thought possible..guess miracles do happen.

Doing Better Than I Deserve said...

I am with Peter. Personal experience is the best way to overcome doubt.

On the other hand, I think it was Augustine who said (something like) "If we can understand it, it isn't God." Knowing that a complete understanding of God is beyond my capabilities is comforting. Since I don't understand God, it is good to know why! It is also humbling. I would like to believe that nothing is beyond me. (Wasn't that Lucifer's downfall?) But, in this case, as in others - the truth has set me free.

Brad Wright said...

Peter and Doing Better, I think that you hit upon a key point... doubts are necessarily bad; in fact, sometimes they lead to really good things.

That's why we should treat peoples' doubts with respect and kindness, as you describe Sarah.

Brad Wright said...

Doing Better... your profile refers to your blog, but it doesn't link to it. What is the address?