Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To God, or Not to God

I recently read an article about a mother, TXBlue08, who is choosing to raise her children without God. I certainly respect her opinions. I respectively disagree with her opinions.

God is a parent

She claims that God cannot exist, or cannot be our Father, because she does not approve of his parenting abilities. Because God allows us, as His children, to inflict harm upon one another, He cannot be our Father. I am a father of seven children; I am far from being a perfect father, and I still have a lot to learn about parenting. Yet, based on the current age of our children, I collectively have over forty four years of parenting experience. It is unreasonable, and unwise, to prevent children from interacting with each other. It is unreasonable, and unwise, to expect all of that interaction to be positive. It is reasonable to comfort a child that has been hurt and help them to heal and learn to love despite the negative interactions that occur. I completely agree with TXBlue08 when she says that our children, and us, have agency. I completely agree that we should teach and guide our children. I completely agree that there are certain situations where parents need to step in and resolve disputes or temporarily stop the interaction to diffuse a situation. However, a parent that constantly hovers over a child and prevents that child from having any negative interaction with anyone else does that child a disservice. God does guide us; God does not condone violence and abuse; God does not prevent us from suffering; God does comfort us and help us to heal; God is our Father.

God is logical

TXBlue08 explains that God cannot exist because we do not understand his logic. People ask why God allows bad things to happen. We often speculate about why things happen, but we rarely understand all of the reasons why He allows certain things to happen. She seems to be uncomfortable with not understanding all that God understands. Just because we do not understand why something happens, does not mean God does not exist. I recently took my two year old son to have his blood drawn because of a recent illness. I held him as he cried while they stuck the needle in his arm and drew the blood. Not only did I allow him to be hurt, I confined him so that he could be hurt. I am sure that my son did not understand why he experienced that. Why would I not only allow him to be hurt, but participate in hurting him? Since he does not understand, does that mean that I do not exist? I am not suggesting that every bad thing that happens in this world can be compared to having blood drawn. I am not suggesting that every bad thing that happens is God's will and happens at his bidding. I am suggesting that, regardless of age, we are all still God's children and do not always understand why He allows things to happen. Just because we do not understand why something happens, does not mean that God does not exist. I completely agree with TXBlue08 when she explains that we should do our best to repair and prevent bad situations the best of our ability. I believe that God would want us to repair and prevent bad situations, and will help us to do so ... but that does not mean that bad things will never happen.

God is fair

TXBlue08 claims that God is not fair because some prayers are answered and some are not. She gives an example of a prayer that was answered when someone prayed to win a soccer match (perhaps someone on the opposing team had also prayed to win the same soccer match); she also gives an example of a parent's prayer that was unanswered when a sick child died. How can God be fair when He only answers some prayers and not others? Prayer is not a give-me-whatever-I-ask-for agreement with God. Prayer is communication between us, as children, with God, as our Father. God does not always answer our prayers when, or how, we think they should be answered. As parents, we do not (and should not) give our children everything they ask for. We should communicate with our children and provide for their needs and wants as we feel it is best for them. What we think is best for them is often different from what they think is best for them. God knows what is best for us, and does answer prayers; just because He does not immediately grant every wish does not mean that He does not exist.

God does protect us

TXBlue08 repeats the concern that, because bad things happen, God is not protecting His children, therefore He cannot exist. As discussed, God does not always prevent bad things from happening. That does not mean that He condones those things; that does not mean that He does not shed tears for those that suffer. God is aware of what is going on, and He does allow suffering. Just because He allows suffering does not mean that He does not exist.

God is present

TXBlue08 claims that God is not here; therefore, we should not believe in him. She says, "Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense." I cannot see, smell, touch, or hear my great-grandmother; therefore, she must not exist and I must not love her. I cannot see, smell, touch, or hear George Washington; therefore, he must not exist and I must not admire and appreciate him. It is unreasonable, and unwise, to disbelieve in someone just because you have no personal experience with that person using your physical senses. We believe in George Washington because we read what has been written about him (keeping in mind that what we read was written by people who we also cannot see, smell, touch, or hear). We can see the effects of his actions by observing the great country that he helped in founding. I doubt anyone alive today would argue that George Washington exists, yet none of us can see, smell, touch, or hear him. Similarly, we can read about experiences that other people have had with God. We can see the effects of His actions by observing the vastness of the universe and the intricacies of living organisms, the beauty of nature and the miracle of birth. As the prophet Alma stated:
"But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
God teaches us to be good

TXBlue08 says telling a child that God does not exist makes him or her a better person because they will make moral choices for the "right reasons." I completely agree that we should not make moral choices because we fear God; we should make moral choices because we love God (and He loves us). Teaching a child that he or she is a son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father will help them understand their eternal nature. It will help them understand that one way to show our love for our Father is to be good.

God has a plan for you

TXBlue08 claims that teaching children about God's plan for his children makes them selfish. It is important to understand, that God has a plan for all of His children, not just a few of them. His plan is a family plan, not an individual plan. Just because He has a plan for me, does not mean that He does not have a plan for TXBlue08. We are all part of the same plan. The plan does not interfere with agency; it does not mean that God dictates everything that we do or experience. The plan is not so much an itinerary for our lives (although God does occasionally direct us in very specific ways), as it is an opportunity for us to experience joy (despite suffering), and return to live with Him after mortality. Although God desires for each one of His children to experience the benefits of the plan, He allows each of us to choose our level of participation.

TXBlue08 concludes her essay with the following comment:
"I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants."
It is ironic that she wants to keep God out her life, out of her children's lives, and out of society. The founding fathers of America clearly believed that God played an integral role in the birth of our nation. She wants the government to dismiss God and deny His existence. I wonder if she allows her children to pledge allegiance to America, one nation under God.

I appreciate TXBlue08 writing her thoughts. It gives readers the opportunity to think about what they believe about God. I understand why some people do not want to believe in God. It can be uncomfortable to realize that someone exists who knows more than we do. It can be uncomfortable to admit that we are dependent on someone other than ourselves. It can be uncomfortable to recognize that our myopic mortal perspective cannot comprehend eternity.

God does exist. He is our loving Heavenly Father. Whether or not we choose to believe in Him, does not alter His existence.

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