SIMPLIFY: to reduce to basic essentials; to diminish in scope or complexity; clarify
As I finish my lunch hour, I find myself wondering what new insights/arguments tonight’s dinner hour will bring. As I’ve mentioned before, Daughter attends Wednesday morning chapel at her preschool. Wednesday night dinners at our house include a recap of the day’s lesson. Usually it’s a simplified version of a Bible story. But, a recent dinner time recap led to a “No God doesn’t…” “Yes God does…” argument between Daughter and me.
It went a little something like this:
Daughter: God makes babies.
[Son stiffens and prepares to impart a lesson in human biology to his sister. I intercede and aim for middle ground…)
Me: Well, mommies and daddies make babies. Remember, the boy’s sperm and the girl’s egg combine? But, God loves babies and each baby is a miracle.
[If God doesn’t understand me wanting a little credit for twenty months of pregnancy and 36-hours of labor, then God must be a man.]
Daughter: No! God makes babies! AND he makes them clothes because they are naked.
Me: God does not make baby clothes. Poor women and children in other countries make baby clothes!
I’m never sure what to do in these situations. Afterward, I second guess the appropriateness of my response. Was it necessary to bring up child labor? What harm would it do to let her believe God makes baby clothes?
But, in the end I believe it is harmful. I cannot abide the “God makes ice-cream, Hello Kitty and stickers” brand of religious teaching. Teaching that God makes baby clothes doesn’t capture a basic tenet of the Christian faith or clarify a complex truth – it is simply false.
I am trying to raise kids who understand the environmental repercussions of consumption and fight for justice and human rights. God is not a factory in the sky that magically spits out goods made-to-order without human rights violations or emissions. Why is that kind of teaching tolerated under the guise of bringing religious teaching down to a child’s level of understanding?
Simplifying religion should mean teaching children to behave as Christ behaved: find solutions to conflicts, offer help where it is needed, give second chances, treat others fairly, speak kindly when possible and forcefully when needed, make things right when they do wrong, and tell the truth.
Believing that God makes onesies is not an essential tenet of any religious tradition I know of or wish to pass on to my children.