Parents of different faiths
One day, I picked my son up from his dad’s church — we practice different faiths — to take him to practice for his performance team (to benefit St. Jude Hospital. We think missing some of a three-hour block of church to do this is okay, especially since he’s learning about how to be charitable, and what would Jesus do?)
I asked my son what the lesson was about today and he thrust a piece of paper at me, which said, “My Gospel Standards.”
He told me, “Everyone said that when you drink coffee, it drives out the Holy Spirit.”
“Well, the teacher was asking what drives out the Holy Spirit and this one kid said, “Coffee,” and she said, “Yes.”
“Eh, what do you think about that?”
“I think it’s dumb.”
“Yeah, so do I, actually.”
Technically, the official doctrine says “hot drinks,” so is iced coffee okay? And what’s so bad about it, the caffeine? In that case, why is it okay for members of this faith to drink Coke and Mountain Dew, which I know for a fact they do. I have seen it with my own eyes.
“She also said that when you’re mad at someone it drives out the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that stupid?”
“No, not really. I can understand that. You don’t have room in your heart to feel God’s love when you’re consumed with anger for someone else. If you were feeling God’s love, you would realize that the person you’re mad at is also God’s child, and you might be mad about what they did but be more forgiving towards the person, just like God is forgiving towards all of us.”
We drove wordlessly for a few miles as my son changed his church clothes for his performance team uniform.
God is present in different faiths
I thought about my two-year odyssey into and out of his dad’s church, which resulted in my short marriage to his father. I felt grateful that I had the knowledge that there are many paths to God and that I didn’t have to leave God when I left that church.
It is because of my belief in the many paths to God that I do not feel threatened by other religions. I can go to a Catholic church with my husband and mother in law; I can go to a Unitarian church – growing up Unitarian is what helped me to respect other faiths; I can also go into my son’s dad’s church and feel okay about it. The members there are some of the nicest people I have ever met. I just came to realize I don’t agree with all of their doctrine.
Different faiths are okay
My oldest goes to a Catholic school and he does not participate in the sacrament part of mass. One of his classmates asked him if he was an atheist. He said, “No, I’m just not Catholic.” I talk a lot with my kids about the many paths and how there is no one right way. Maybe I am supposed to believe that – as a lot of religions teach about their own particular faith, i.e., if you’re not ______________ (insert faith), you’re an atheist, or you’re wrong, or you don’t see the whole picture – but I don’t.
I want my boys to know that it’s okay to explore different faiths – to learn about and understand what other people believe and how they worship. Then my boys are free to make up their own minds about their faith and their relationship with God. How can they choose if they have only learned one way?
When my son was resettled, I said, “You know I’ve been drinking coffee again, right?” (I had given it up for a year and a half because I thought I was drinking too much.)
“Yeah. It’s usually decaf but sometimes I add in some regular.” (I make instant coffee at home so this is easy to manage on a cup-by-cup basis.)
“Do you think I’ve driven the Holy Spirit out?”
Do you practice a different religion than your child(ren)’s other parent? How does that work for your family?