Friday, September 6, 2019

I implore you to stop taking your kids to church

I am taking a break from book writing to write this brief post.

Of my associates who are believers, the vast majority know of doctrines their sect espouses that deviate from their own most sincere idea of God's will and nature.

Of these associates, very very few have made the decision to stop attending the meetings of that sect.

I have brought up the consequences of continued association with organized religions. For instance, I made this video. I am going to be even more direct here, though.

Why do you go to church?

  • To worship? You can do that better at home.
  • To socialize? You can do that better outside of church.
  • To participate in ordinances? What reason do you have to believe that your church leaders have unique authority claims? Do you have a reason to believe that whatever they can do in church, you can't do at home?
  • To pay tithing? Are you saying you can't find poor people to donate to directly?
  • To be taught? Ah ha. Taught what?

The problem with church

It is easy to act as if there are no costs to attending the meetings of organized religions. But there is a cost.

Every organized religion is what it is because someone, at some point, decided to draw a box around God and say "anything outside of this is wrong, and everything inside of this is right." Otherwise, it would not be an organized religion. Organized religions are any faith institution whose doctrines are anything but "anything God has revealed, does reveal, or will reveal." Hint: this includes any named church, whether of the trademarked international varieties (ex. Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.) or one offs (ex. "First Bible Fellowship of the Whatevers").

What is the cost of organized religion? You get all the things they got right, but you also get all the things they got wrong. Because every single one of these institutions teaches that they are the exclusive arbiter of truth, and that everyone else is wrong, anyone who grows up in their box will associated the gospel of Jesus Christ exclusively with the faith claims of the organization. This is really bad, because every single one of them subscribes to doctrines that are limited in accuracy or just downright wrong. And you know this.

The good does not outweigh the bad

Many argue that in spite of the bad parts, the good parts are worth the cost. I have yet to find an argument in support of this position.

For instance, many say that without churches, who would preserve scripture? History suggests that individuals--not churches--have been responsible for the preservation of scripture. In fact, most of the time, it was organized religion that posed the greatest threat to their preservation--typically by persecuting the very men responsible for the preservation of scripture. In the modern context, it is absolutely absurd to claim that you need churches to obtain scripture--long available in the public domain free from copyrights of--you guessed it--organized religions.

The argument that the good is worth the bad is non-scriptural. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said that you can't put new wine in old bottles:

21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
(Mark 2)

He was saying that you can't build a solid structure on the foundation of apostate organized religions. In his day, this referred to the Pharisees. In our day, it refers to every organized religion.

Protestant churches are just as incapable of leading one to salvation as the Catholic church: a dead tree cannot produce a living branch, no matter how pure the intentions of that branch. Not even Mormons, who claim the gospel was revealed anew through Joseph Smith, can claim they are free from apostasy, as their modern religion is almost completely different from what Joseph Smith preached.

How can you know that at least some of the doctrines taught by your church are false? Well, it's quite simple. Read the scriptures, and compare what you are taught in church to what they say. You have to be careful, because their indoctrination has constrained your ability to read literally more than you imagine (you will notice this once you stop going and the fog of tradition wears off). 

To help you even further, you can compare the works of those in the scriptures with those of your teachers. Jesus said:

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16)

Is there a case where any of your teachers in your organized religion demonstrate any of the fruits Jesus demonstrated during his mortal ministry? Are the sick healed, or merely prayed for? Are the blind made to see, or merely subjected to stale Sunday school lessons? Are the deaf made to hear, or merely vacuously present during hymns of praise?

What, exactly, are your teachers' credentials? Have they been redeemed by God, witnessed by the Lord coming to them in literal fashion? Have they heard the voice of the Lord? Have they been in his presence? Has he taught them things not revealed since the foundation of the world? Have they been taught things from the scriptures that no one else seems to know? If their credentials are merely selection by some man or group of people, or some college degree, perhaps you should reconsider setting them up as your teacher.

Do you have any idea what Jesus was talking about when he used the phrase "blind guides"? This would literally mean those who purport to lead people to a place they themselves have never been. According to Jesus, they do not both arrive at the destination. Instead, they both fall into a ditch.

If all you are getting from church attendance is some other person's opinions about what the scriptures mean, or worse, recitation of one or more traditions made up by some man or men as if it were God's word, what is stopping you from getting at least that much at home?

You will get leagues closer to heaven by using the time you would have spent at church crying to God that you are a sheep with no shepard and begging for guidance than you will spending another minute listening to blind guides. 

There is not a single organized religion that is worth attending. No, not one.

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (Isaiah 29:13)

But aren't Christians commanded to attend church?

Some cite scriptures which they say indicate that God expects them to attend the weekly meetings of an organized religion. In reality, there is no such scripture. Christians are commanded to meet with other Christians, yes. Nowhere does this say that you must regularly attend your local congregation of whatever named sect you have subscribed to. You can fulfill this commandment (and do so more fully) by studying the gospel together as a family on Sundays, inviting and/or accepting the invitation of others to meet as groups in homes, free to worship God according to the dictates of your conscience instead of having what you believe dictated to you by some arbitrary person who does not know God any more than you do.

You will be held accountable for taking your children to church.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

God will hold you accountable for the consequences of leaving your children in church. And there will be consequences. And there will be consequences.

Think for a moment of the spiritual disposition of kids who grows up in your church. Don't think of the kids 20 years ago. Think of the very last kid who turned into an adult, and the one before him or her, and the one before that. Of the three:

  • How many have the tools they need to build a successful family?
  • How many are making wise life decisions (spouse, career)?
  • How many have a testimony of the truth that is strong enough to withstand the challenges of today?
  • How many have a personal relationship with God that will carry them through tough times?
  • How many keep God's word at all times and in all places of their own volition?

If you are honest, you will have to admit that instead of building on what good might exist within the traditions of your sect, the children growing up in it:

  • Respond to the first adult challenge of their faith by becoming atheists.
  • Indulge in sexual and other sins as soon as they have the opportunity to do so.
  • (or) Drink so deeply of the traditions offered them by the sect that they cut you off as an apostate.
Remember, God will hold you accountable for every consequence in the lives of your children from your decision to keep them in church.

Oddly, many of my associates who keep taking their kids to church choose to home school their children precisely because they understand that it is neglectful for parents to do otherwise when they have the choice.

If you would not entrust the temporal education of your children to those whose views of right and wrong deviate from yours, why on earth would you do so with the spiritual education of your children? Why would you take great pains to avoid outsourcing the temporal education of your children to others while outsourcing the spiritual education of your children to others?

Perfect loves casts out all fear

There isn't a single person who can honestly say that every single thing their church believes is right. They WILL, however, make all sorts of excuses for how that is alright, including but not limited to: "yes, some people believe that, but the church doesn't actually teach that," or "yes, but that isn't vital to salvation," or "yes, but the good outweighs the bad." These are all lies, and you know that. The real reason you don't face these things head on is not because you sincerely think you are doing what God wants you to do, but because of fear.

Should you be scared of doing what God's still small voice is telling you is right? No. God has never ever given you a reason to hesitate in trusting him. Any doubt you have is a result of your belief that you know better than he does.

As someone who was publicly excommunicated from an organized religion for doing what is right, I know every reason you have to fear leaving your church. I've experienced it. I've risked my marriage, my reputation, my friends, my religious identity, and my years of service. And it was all worth it.

You can't have everything God wants to give you until you are willing to give everything you have to him.

Stop being a coward. Either believe in God and do what you know he wants or stop pretending you do.