by Kenneth Justice
~Last night as I was sipping coffee at one of my favorite café’s and the woman sitting next to me asked me to watch her laptop while she put more coins in the meter…..after she returned we ended up striking up a conversation for a bit. She is 29 years old and last month was the first time in more than three years that her parents allowed her to return home for dinner.
The young woman was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home and when she decided in her early twenties to dress more ‘modern’ and to wear unapproved body piercings….her parents excommunicated her from the family.
It’s gotta be pretty intense to be cut off from your family as an early-twenty something; no financial support, no place to live, and no family to come home to when you’ve had a tough day or week.
I don’t want to make it sound like this problem is only limited to Orthodox Jewish homes; I know of Protestant, Catholic, and other religious groups who have done the same thing to their adult children when certain behaviors occurred that were not allowable.
What goes through a parent’s mind when they kick their child out for not living up to their religious standards? Is that something you would do as a parent?
A relative of mine who grew up in an ultra-conservative Christian home was told she needed to move out at age 19 because she wanted to have a serious relationship with a boy….oh the horror! Her father did not approve of sex before marriage or any type of relationship in which he was not directly overseeing the young man who would be dating her daughter; so the father’s plan-of-action was to kick his daughter out!
The young woman I was talking to at coffee yesterday told me that her mother found a Rabbi who talked to the husband and explained, “Look, if you want to have any kind of relationship with your daughter you’ve got to look past her lifestyle and let her come home for dinner at least”. And thus, after three years of exile, the young woman was told by her father that she could come home for Rosh Hashanah and the slow road to reconciliation has begun.
Look, you don’t have to tell me what it means to be passionate about your faith; I am extremely passionate about my Christian faith……but that doesn’t mean I’m going to kick my family to the curb if they don’t agree with me! Any time a religion is practiced which causes children to be cut-off in the manner of the young woman….it causes me to wonder if it’s a religion I would really want to take seriously.
That’s been my problem with Christianity in many ways. Sure, when I read about the life of Jesus I’m overwhelmed with the life he led and the sacrifices he made. But when I look at how Christianity is practiced by the majority of those who attend church……do I even need to say what it looks like? Suffice to say, the lives of most modern Christian’s and the religion they practice leaves a lot to be desired.
A friend of mine (who is an atheist of sorts) keeps telling me, “Kenneth, the Christianity you talk about is completely disconnected from the Christianity I see in churches; loving community, sacrificial giving to the poor, selflessness….those things simply don’t exist” he says.
I am sure we can find random examples of Christians who don’t fit the typical modern stereotype of an irrelevant suburban church goer…..but I get what my friend is saying; if Christianity is true….why does it so often look so bad?
Perhaps the answer lies in our coffee; there’s a lot of bad coffee out there. I don’t want to mention the brands as to not offend anyone….but if the only coffee that was available to drink tasted putrid…than I would likely stop drinking it altogether.
But I know that good coffee exists; in fact I’ve tasted it. And it’s because I’ve had the good stuff that I have faith that it is out there.
Religion is like that as well; even if we try it 100 times and every time it sucks……..since I’ve seen positive real elements of Christianity at times…..I know it is still out there.
Sure, most of the time religion sucks…..most of the time it is dry, lifeless, bland, and irrelevant. But I keep the faith because I know the ‘real stuff’ is out there…..and each time I’ve found it…it has been a pretty awesome experience. Just like a good cup of coffee….it’s totally worth it.
Excommunicating your kid? I’m sorry, but I believe the fundamental principle of Judeo-Christianity is practicing a type of love that is never-ending…..it is a bottomless love…and most important it is an unconditional love.
So I hope that you never excommunicate your kid…….
And I hope you only drink the good coffee….cause that’s what I’m going to have