We don’t go to church anymore.
Let me attempt to explain the morality, silliness, and probable hypocrisy of our decision to stop being “church people”, as if I am solidly decided about any of it.
Background: We were very churchy people a few years ago. Hubby ran groups at the same Presbyterian church he’d gone to since high school. (He’d been pulled in by the music program there.) We had the girls baptized there. We felt very welcome and safe with our kids there, trusting the nice people around to keep half an eye on them, if we were in conversation or performing with the music department. Our kids’ first social interactions were in the church nursery. We were practically God-cheerleaders, running music for vacation bible school. I did the (I’m sorry, deadly dull and not particularly meaningful) membership classes. We met friends there.
Then one day Hubby gave them plenty of notice one day that he would no longer be running the programs that he’d run, so they could get replacements, and suddenly we were free on Sunday mornings. (I am an earlier church drop-out than Hubby, having stopped going most Sundays in favor of using that time to clean and/or spend time with my kids. I could do neither of those at church.)
Here are my reasons, and why they’re not quite right:
Reason: “Does God really send people to Hell?” “Can men marry men or can women marry women?” “Were men really made first?” Oh, I should mention we’re liberals, and there is no way in Hell that ‘man is made like God and woman is a side project’ crap is being preached as truth to my daughters. Our big kid started to ask questions and understand the answers, and we weren’t sure we would like what she’d hear if she asked them of a church leader or Sunday School teacher. I visited my grandmother’s church once and was told that TV was a tool of the devil and I was going to Hell if I watched Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles again. I was 8.
But: There were some great people there. I honestly have no idea what they would have really said to my kid. A couple of them, Sunday School teachers – I could guess.
I feel like this is such a ‘duh’ issue, but I know it’s still coming about for half the country. We knew people who weren’t comfortable letting church friends know some pretty important things about them, for fear of judgement. The official view of the Presbyterian church may be acceptance, but we strongly doubted that ran throughout that particular church. A lot of that had to do with the general age of the congregation; civil rights for the LGBT community is really an age issue. More about that later.
But: The Presbyterian church of the USA (general governing body) voted to allow ordination of pastors regardless of sexual orientation in 2010 and voted to allow marriages in 2014. (Very late to the party, guys! But better late than never. We were already gone at this point, though.) I don’t know for sure how individual people would handle this at any church, I shouldn’t presume to know.
Reason: We felt pulled in many directions, with work and family. I didn’t want another commitment. I also wanted more time with my kids. Yes, I joke about sending their butts outside constantly for “Don’t Bother Mommy” time. But on weekends, I didn’t want to be shipping them off to a nursery while I sat, not really interacting with my husband, in a church service.
But: I realize how selfish this sounds – Oh, I know how I sound . This cut a generally positive social situation from my kids’ lives. This is why I finally agreed to sign them up for soccer. I miss the social-ness of church too. We met some really great people who we would totally still hang out with, if not for feeling very awkward about leaving. Having places to go and people to see is a good thing in my book, usually!
We did try going to several other churches. For a about a year, we were “church shopping”, mainly Episcopal and a couple Lutheran. You get wooed really hard, when you walk into a new church with your little kids in cute dresses. The cookies come out very quickly. We spent six months going to one church that was great as far as the concerns I listed above, but had so few children that some days nobody would show up to teach Sunday School. And eventually stopped going there too, and relished the quiet Sunday mornings with nowhere to go and time to sit around, drink coffee and juice, and play and talk with each other.
I really miss the music of church services. Music and God just go together. I got most of my musical experience at the Lutheran church where I grew up. Some quality music education reached me there, and well as some good friends. It’s for this reason that I feel like my kids are (going to be) missing out, and I should probably do something about that.
You’ll notice I said nothing about actual theological beliefs. Or God. Every one of us could write a giant essay about whether they believe in God (I do, kinda) whether they pray (I do, kinda), and whether they are down with that whole no-wearing-two-different-cloths thing. (Really, Deuteronomy?)
I said something about this vaguely back at Christmas, but I’m basically not presuming I know anything, other than the fact that we should be as good as possible to each other and to trust that everything is going to be ok in the long run. I feel like that didn’t change for me, while going from one church to another, to going to no church. I’m good.
Would we go back again? Sure. If we found the right place for us. But we’re in no hurry, and we don’t think it’s bad that we’re choosing not to go at all, at this point. I would really love to hear some thoughts on church, choosing one, or your thoughts on religion and social issues, including the above. Please comment! If it’s too personal, use the contact info on the left sidebar over there, or message me. Ha! Look at me pretending people read this who don’t have my cell # or fb contact info. Hilarious!
But seriously, I’d love to hear your ideas.