Monday, July 28, 2008

"Pray for our daughter."


Thank you for the support and well wishes. I still can't go into the situation, but I do appreciate the time and ideas people have given me. It will still be a while before I get this all figured out. I really don't want to give up this blog. It's been a life-line for me for the last year or so. It's been very rewarding to hear people say that I give them hope for secularism in this country or raising secular children. But, as I said in a prior post, if it hurts my family, then I will stop. There's nothing more precious to me than my family. For right now, it's going to be impersonal, but hopefully still interesting reading.

This letter caught my interest. It was in a Seattle newspaper. It's a question and answer piece will Billy Graham.
Pray for daughter who doesn't believe
By DR. BILLY GRAHAM
DEAR DR. GRAHAM:
Our 17-year-old daughter says she doesn't believe in God anymore, and now she
even refuses to go to church with us. When we try to talk with her about it we
just end up in an argument. What can we do? -- Mrs. S.McD.

How do you get to be the parent of a 17 year old and not know how to parent? Of course, my answer would be that this young woman needs to be allowed to start making choices on her own. But, I suspect the good doctor's response will be different.
DEAR MRS. S.McD.: The most important thing you can do is to pray for her --
because only God can overcome her spiritual resistance and draw her back to
Himself. Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws
him" (John 6:44).


He's talking about this young woman as if she's a rebellious teen. What evidence does he have for this? And, what good does praying for her do? If I were a theist parent, then I would imagine sitting her down for a deep chat about her reasons for doing this would be a primary goal.
But you also can let her know you that love her, despite your differences -- and
by doing so, you'll be showing her that God loves her also.

How big of them. Gee...I guess it's better than saying "Take her out back and make her hold a Bible in her out-stretched hands for two hours." That you'd have to tell someone to let their children know they love them is kind of bizarre.

Don't let your discussions degenerate into arguments; this will only make
her more determined to keep her position. In other words, don't let this become
a test of wills between you -- your will battling against her will -- because
almost the last thing she wants to do right now is admit she is wrong. The Bible
says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger"
(Proverbs 15:1).


Again, "a test of will"? Maybe she has genuine, logical reasons for not wanting to go to church or worship Jesus/God. I think it's ironic that these people are saying that the girl may "not want to admit (she) is wrong". I suspect that if her parents were more open to the idea that they, themselves, were wrong, then this whole scenario would be a lot more productive.
Let me encourage you also to ask her why she has come to this conclusion. Has someone influenced her? Has she been reading one of the recent books on atheism? Atheism has become something of a fad in recent years, and this may have influenced her. And, just how much will does a parent have on a seventeen year old?

But the real reason, I suspect, is that she wants to run her own life -- and
that's far easier to do if you push God out of your life.

Oh, yes. That must be it. Not only is she a willful, stubborn teen, but she also has decided that a paradigm shift is easier than complacency. Not! How the heck is it "far easier" to run your life if you push God out of the way and why would that be a bad thing? Isn't the point of growing up, in part, finding your way independently and making choices about what you truly believe as opposed to walking the same paths you did as a child?

Help her realize what she's doing, and then warn her of the dangers. Above all,
urge her to look at Christ, for He alone came "to bring you to God" (1 Peter
3:18).

The dangers of what? Thinking for herself and having the courage to tell her parents that she's not convinced that Christianity is for her? These people don't get it. How can we "look to God" when we have no reason to believe he exists? It's like saying you should "look to Santa" to find the meaning of Christmas. That works pretty well as an allegory, but it's useless advice in practice. If God alone can bring someone to God, then why not just tell the parents to leave her alone?

12 comments:

Milo Johnson said...

Like anyone would "choose" to be one of the most reviled group in the United States. I was just observing in conversation the other day that if you want to find out what being hated is really like, become a fat, gay, black, cigarette-smoking atheist.

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

If God alone can bring someone to God, then why not just tell the parents to leave her alone?

Because even the great Billy Graham realises -at some level- that praying to Jebus is dazzlingly ineffective. Propagating Christianity takes a lot more effort than quiet words murmured in back rooms.

Enshoku said...

nice to hear you are continuing your blog.

As for billy graham, he seems to be beat the hell out of strawmen here. The good news is that she girl is probably old enough to not be effected by the godXmeXloveXyou argument, and prayer has been known to be amazingly useless.

spurge said...

"The dangers of what?"

Wouldn't that be the danger that their all loving god will throw their daughter into hell to burn for all eternity?

Just a guess.

Karen said...

He's talking about this young woman as if she's a rebellious teen. What evidence does he have for this?

The young woman still is a teen, after all, and she's decided not to go along with The Program. So obviously she must be rebelling. 17-year-olds aren't supposed to be able to think for themselves in Graham's world. For that matter, females aren't supposed to be able to think for themselves ever.

I wish the young woman a quick escape from home.

Cogito said...

Heh. I love how Christians only believe in free will when it's convenient (like "solving" the problem of evil). At other times, people assert that God can change someone's mind for them. If he can and will do that, why are there all these atheists around?

Nicholas said...

But you're asking God-huggers to stop interfering in someone else's beliefs! Good luck with that!

Jess Wundrun said...

If she gives up on God, how the hell is she going to get laid at Bible Camp?

Milo Johnson said...

The quiet spell over here is starting to get a little disconcerting...

CrypticLife said...

"But the real reason, I suspect, is that she wants to run her own life "

And this is such a bad thing for a young adult?

"almost the last thing she wants to do right now is admit she is wrong. "

Especially when she's right.

"Help her realize what she's doing, and then warn her of the dangers. "

Let's see. . . I saw a video on youtube where a mom told her son he'd get no Christmas presents that year.

At least he didn't tell them to ask her if she were gay.

Corbie said...

No, I have a feeling that ol' Billy meant, when talking about warning the daughter of the "dangers" the usual. You know. "I love you very much and I'll pray for you, but you're going to burn in hell for all eternity."

Something warm and loving like that. ;)

Eat Well (was Teresa R) said...

LOL at what Spurge said. ;)

"If God alone can bring someone to God, then why not just tell the parents to leave her alone?" I'd like to say the same thing to dh's well-meaning Catholic aunt and uncle who sent us a long letter explaining the folly of our ways when they saw that one of the books I recommended in our last holiday newsletter was The God Delusion (never mind that the 20 other books recommended had nothing to do with god or otherwise).