Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Religion is Like Ice Cream, and Answers to Other Tough Questions Kids Ask

When you become a parent, you think you know what you are getting into. Sure, there's the late night feedings, the sleeplessness, the scrapes and bruises to kiss and bandage, the endless hugs to be given. You know about all of these things.

Picture courtesy of Power Living
You don't think about all of the questions you will be asked. Not by family members, not by fellow moms... by your kids. And it starts pretty much the moment they begin talking.

Over the years, I've managed to dodge some pretty huge bullets with my kids by answering, "Just because" when they ask me something. Now that my kids are older, it's not that easy. They want answers, and they are old enough now to know when I'm bullshitting them.

I have a philosophy about how to answer older kids when they ask questions: Be as technical and proper as possible. Either they will understand it and your answer will satisfy them, or it will be so over their head that they'll say, 'Okay' and walk off, making sure to think twice before asking you another question. It's a win-win situation, in my opinion.

It's just getting through the actual answering of the difficult questions that's the hard part. Kids are exposed to so much nowadays, that I know my kids ask me questions that I didn't have to ask my parents when I was their age. It sure makes life... interesting.

So today I wanted to share with y'all some real questions my kids have asked me and my actual answers to those questions. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried...

The Ginger: Why are those two girls in the pool kissing?
Me: Because they love each other.
G: Yeah, but why is it two girls kissing?
M: Because love can not be defined. Once you love someone, you love them, and sometimes girls love girls. Just like sometimes boys love boys. Most of the time girls love boys and boys love girls, but sometimes it's different. Is love bad?
G: No
M: Then there. As long as they are loving, it's okay. Unless it's a person kissing an animal. Then it's gross and not a good thing. Now quit staring at the lesbians, please. They aren't a sideshow act.
G: What's a sideshow act?
M: Nevermind. Good grief, they need to bring back the freak shows at the circus and fair. My kids are so sheltered. 

The Girl: Mom, if we don't go to church, are we going to the H-E-L-L place?
Me: No, why?
G: Well, we were told that if we don't go to church, and accept Jesus Christ as our savior, that we'll go to the H-E-L-L place when we die.
M: (I knew the culprit in this one, so instead of flipping out about who told my kids that, I decided to answer the question anyway.) What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

G: Mom, I asked you a question.
M: I know, and I'm trying to answer it for you. What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
G: I don't know. Mint.
M: Okay. Hey, Ginger, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
The Ginger: Chocolate. Are we getting ice cream?
M: Nope. Just needed your opinion. Thanks.
Look, there's 4 different religions right there!
The Ginger: What? That's not cool, Mom.
M: I know, I'm horrible. (Back to The Girl) Okay, your favorite flavor of ice cream is mint, which means you think mint is the best, right? And your brother's favorite flavor is chocolate, which means he thinks that flavor is the best, right?
The Girl: Yeah, I guess.
M: Okay, well religion is like ice cream. What one person thinks is the best may not be what's best for another person. Neither person is wrong, and both people are right for what fits their lives. Just because that person told you that they believe if you don't go to church that you will go to hell when you die doesn't mean that's what you have to believe. That's what they believe, and what's right for them.
G: Okay, so we won't go to hell if we don't go to church?
M: I don't believe so, no. My flavor of ice cream is different than the person who said that to you.
G: And both of you are right?
M: In a way, yes. The only times when religion is wrong is when it hurts other people or when one person goes around telling everyone else that their flavor of ice cream is wrong and they need to only eat one particular flavor of ice cream, or, well, they'll go to hell. 
G: Gotcha. Can we get ice cream now?
M: No, but I'm glad we got the whole 'going to hell' thing figured out.

The Ginger: Can I have a little baby brother or sister?
Me: No.
G: Why not?
M: Because your daddy and I can't have kids anymore.
G: But you had me and my sister.
M: Yeah, but that was years ago. Your daddy and I, as a couple, can not have any more kids. So, you are stuck with just your sister, forever.
G: But can't you just go to the hospital and get a new baby?
M: A- That's not how it works, and B- No, there are no new babies ever coming again for your daddy and I.
G: But why?
M: Because we decided that you and your sister were the most perfect kids ever, and we'd be pushing our luck to have another one to the point where the 3rd kid could come out with one eyeball and 4 legs, so we decided to not have any more kids. Make sense?
G: Yeah. I mean, I'm perfect, but my sister could use some work.
M: (laughing) Yeah, I'm glad I can still get away with not explaining things to you fully, yet.
G: Huh?
M: Nevermind, honey. Go play.

The Girl: Mom, this kid outside just got mad at The Ginger for saying he was black. Why?
Me: Why what?
G: Why did he get mad that The Ginger said he was black? He is black.
M: Was what The Ginger said mean?
G: No. (The Girl proceeded to tell me exactly what The Ginger said, which, for the life of me, I can't remember. I do remember it was not racist or derogatory, which is why I remember the rest of the conversation- because I had to explain racism to her.)
M: Well, everyone in this world has something that just upsets them. With some people, it's race. What The Ginger said isn't bad, but maybe the little boy can only see that he is black and that The Ginger is white, and because of that, he misunderstood what The Ginger was saying and thought it was bad.
G: But why does it matter who is black and who is white?
M: That, my dear, is a question that half the world needs answering. Sometimes people don't like other people if they are a different color. That's called racism, and it's not good. You shouldn't dislike someone because of the color of their skin. But, from now on, just to be on the safe side, since you don't see a difference between people who are black and people who are white, then there's no reason to bring up the color of someone's skin in any conversation, okay?
G: Okay. We need to tell The Ginger, too.
M: I'll cover it with him.

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  1. Thanks for the great post. Ice cream and religion do have a lot in common. I love the blog.

  2. Those were brilliant! I think the ice cream analogy for religion was the best. Seriously using that one for some of the adults I encounter!

    1. Thanks! I haven't been in a decent debate with an adult about religion in years. You'll have to let me know if it works out, lol!

  3. I will be using all of these come time for me to have kids!!

  4. The ice cream and religion analogy doesn't work and this is why.

    When I make an objective statement, like “Raleigh is the NC state capital,” this statement can be argued by presenting evidence. You can convince someone of this fact by showing them documentation that Raleigh is, indeed, the capital. If I told you that George Washington, the first American president, was born in AD 1250, you could check that out, too. It’s an objective statement. Its says something about the object, George Washington.

    So when I say I’m a Christian, am I just saying that I have a personal preference for Christianity, that I like their team better than other teams? Is that all I’m saying? If so, then it would be ridiculous of me to try to convince people of other religions to convert to my team. Why bother? You like chocolate and I like vanilla. There’s no point in trying to convince you vanilla or Christianity are better.

    Those of us who are serious about our faith understand that we are not talking about favorite teams, but about reality and what is true. We are making objective truth claims. Every religion makes claims about man’s origin, morality, meaning, and destiny. Many religions also make historical claims. If you are trying to judge a religion, then you need to evaluate the claims they are making about the empirically verifiable world, and then investigate those claims to see if they are true.

    For example, if a religion denies that pain and suffering are real, that they are just illusions, then run away! It is the universal experience of every person who ever lived that life is full of pain and suffering, so a religion better explain where that comes from. Just denying it’s there is totally inadequate and incomprehensible.

    If a religion makes claims of history that are patently false, then run away! Any religion that gets major historical events wrong is untrustworthy. If they can’t get verifiable history right, then how can we expect them to get heaven and hell right?

    Bottom line: treat each religion as a real and testable hypothesis. Do the research and see for yourself. If you think that religions are just personal preference, you’ve completely missed the point.

    1. Thanks for your comment, but there is no way that religion is an "objective truth" as you put it. Religion is completely subjective. For each person, religion is different. Each person can take the exact same passage in the New Testament, or Koran, or the Book of Mormon, and interpret it in a different way based on their feelings, or own thoughts. That, by definition, is subjective.
      As far as your claim about religions that get major historical events wrong, I have to disagree with that one, as well. Wars that have been fought because of religious beliefs will have different stories based on which side's viewpoint you are reading about. If the actual facts are changed, like who was fighting who, then yes, I agree. But as far as motives, reasoning and even embellishment of the events- that will happen with any historical event, especially ones based on religious beliefs.
      Thanks for your comment, but I was explaining religion to a 10 year old and a 7 year old, so my ice cream analogy stands. Religion is subjective. You, as a Christian, have different thoughts, feelings and opinions on Christianity than another person who calls themselves a Christian sitting beside you. That, by definition, makes it subjective.