It’s about a deacon and a crack smoking daughter…

its about a deacon and a crack smoking daughter

By Kenneth Justice

~ “My father says I’m in sin for hanging out with non-Christians” that’s what the young woman who sat across from me at the café began telling me about her situation. Apparently her father is a deacon and her mother is the church secretary of a strictly conservative fundamentalist Church on the East Coast, “My father hates it that I dye my hair pink, have piercings, and that I don’t stay at home and read the bible every night…but at least he hasn’t kicked me out of the house yet like he did with my sister” she said.

This young woman was hardly the first young adult whom I’ve met with that was dealing with religious conflict from their parents and will most likely not be the last……The Western World is filled with men and women who have come from homes where religiosity has burned them out. I’ve talked with Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Muslims, and even Hindu’s who have been burned out by the religion of their family and parents.

Sadly, although religion should be a positive opportunity to carry down traditions from one generation to the next; too often it ends up being a double edged sword that certain communities and peoples use to antagonize their children and others. Too often people use religion to heap heavy burdens upon others that are too difficult to bear.

—-) Don’t smoke

—-) Don’t drink

—-) Don’t chew tobacco

—-) Don’t cuss

—-) Don’t hang out with people outside of our community

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t drink, don’t chew, and don’t run with those who do”?

No matter the religion or ethnicity, these are merely a sampling of the don’ts that many children and young adults have ingrained within their heads. When the child begins to veer slightly away from the course their parents or religious community have set for them….the adults in their life begin to panic and turn to condemnation as a way of trying to harness the child back under their control. But does condemning someone really work at controlling their behavior? Even if it does work; should it really be a tool we incorporate as a part of our interaction with others?

Of course there are some things we should most definitely condemn; such as murder…..but for the plethora of other behaviors that fall well below murder; should we really be so quick to condemn others for their actions? I mean, isn’t a normal part of growing up; venturing away from the nest and learning things through trial and error?

Sadly, as the young woman at coffee continued her tail she told me of her sister who had been kicked out at the age of 18 (the year before) and was currently living in a homeless shelter for pregnant women; the parents were wealthy enough to support the daughter but because she wasn’t willing to abide by their religious rules they weren’t willing to help her out, “My mom and dad mean well, but it’s hard for me not to resent them for what has happened to my sister. After they kicked her out she started smoking crack and now she’s pregnant with twins and all by herself at a homeless shelter. I go and visit her but it’s not like I have any money to help her out” she said.

It simply doesn’t look very good for a deacon and the church secretary to have a unwed and pregnant daughter living at home…about to give birth to twins…….especially if the daughter doesn’t believe in the religion anymore….and so they’ve chosen to kick her out of the house??? Seems rather extreme if you ask me.

One of my dearest friends who died last year frequently said, “It’s easy to love people when everything is going good…..but you really find out the true measure of a relationship when conflict occurs

Isn’t that the true fact of the matter? It’s easy to love our children, parents, coworkers, friends, fill-in-the-blank when everything is going well……but how will behave towards them when they do something we don’t like? How will we respond when they make choices we don’t agree with? What will we say when they mess up and say something negative towards us?

There are certain moments in our lives where we must stand our ground and speak our mind…..but don’t you think that more often than not the problem in our culture is people simply don’t demonstrate enough patience and grace towards each other? It seems to me that everywhere I go people are at the precipice of blowing up at a moment’s notice……but rarely do I meet people who are kind and patient in the face of adversity.

Are the parents wrong for kicking their pregnant daughter out of the house because she doesn’t agree with their religious views anymore? It’s not for me to say how they should live or behave……but if they ever want to have any kind of relationship with their daughter or grandchildren…then it seems to me they might want to rethink their philosophy.

Maybe I’m too laid back…..I’ve received a few emails recently by people who think I’m too soft. But I wonder….can you really be too forgiving? Can you really be too gracious? Can you really be too loving? Maybe I’m simply a loon and all this coffee I’m drinking is pushing me to the precipice of a cliff and I’m slowly falling off the side into a pit of nonsense……

But if I am falling off a cliff I would really like one last coffee to sip as I fall down


P.S. join me tomorrow as l wrap up this week’s series and tie it all together

Categories: Religion

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90 replies

  1. Grace and patience are in short supply these days, but there a re still many among us that display these qualities beautifully everyday.

  2. Do and don’t , is important in a society. Social ties are not for testing, rather for holding together the values, each religion or culture has a value system. if, we want to get the benefit of relationships, the we have to maintain those with care..nothing comes for be prepared.

    • kalabalu…..

      I agree; but would add that demonstrating forgiveness and grace is also an important component of society as well…no?

    • You can forgive..but can not accept abnormal is not natural to live with someone, who disregards your value..whatever they maybe..the daughter maybe forgiven but never will be accepted, she has actually severed ties when she didn’t follow the rules..what the parents did react.
      I know, it is not comfortable..but then values are always difficult to maintain.

    • Are the values more important than the people? Isn’t there some middle way to hold to your values, but help the people (in this case their own daughter). As the Culture Monk has pointed out recently, Jesus spent time with and forgave the sins of those who were behaving badly (prostitutes, etc.). Shouldn’t Christians try to emulate him? In reality of course, we don’t actually know how many times these parents may have tried to help the older daughter – and in the face of addictions one must draw the line at some point. You can’t be constantly forgiving if the sinner keeps trying to hurt you and your family, and you can’t “fix” them until they’re ready in themselves. I guess I’m saying that no one outside the family can determine if these parents have drawn an unfair line, or been pushed past the point of trying by the older daughter. I DO wish they’d shared more of their struggle with the younger daughter so she could understand and not fear being kicked out herself for lesser “sins”.

    • middle is where the line is drawn..then you are either in or choice or chance.
      of may give elasticity for going beyond the breaking point..guess we have our in-built limits. thanks for your input. I appreciate your view point.

  3. What to to when the bridge is out? You tell them. Stop the bridge is out. I think it is the living thing to do. But now they heard you, but they want to continue and drive toward the broken bridge anyway! This is when I used to condemn after all. It’s pretty stupid. But when they wouldn’t listen to my condemnation, I got angry and resentful which does drive people away. Then I learned about pity. If they want to drive toward a broken bridge, then something is really wrong with them. I now feel pit instead of anger and that changes everything.

    • Robert,

      “But when they wouldn’t listen to my condemnation, I got angry and resentful which does drive people away”

      I like this description of feelings…..I’m sure this is what goes through the minds of many parents; but eventually they need to realize that ‘anger and resentment’ are not useful tools in connecting with their children or loved ones.

    • That’s where pity comes in. And it’s not just for our children. Good post. Thanks. Bob

  4. all I try for is balance . . . and that is many times too hard.

  5. Thanks for another post, Kenneth, which is neither “too” this or “too” that. It’s just right.

    Another Loon

  6. As a retired pastor I have experienced too much of what you describe. I feel that if we call ourselves Christians and followers of Jesus there is characteristic we must have—forgiveness. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”, don’t we? When Christianity becomes EXclusive rather than INclusive, it is no longer Christianity but just a social club!

  7. Excellent!!! Btw, my hubby has been bugging me, “Is he really a monk?!” Hee-hee 😛

    • No…not a real monk 😉 I probably couldn’t handle the whole sitting around in silence for most of the day…..and I think they aren’t too big on coffee

    • Have you not heard of Mystic Monk coffee? Lovingly roasted by Carmelite monks. Who, BTW, might beg to differ with the “sitting around in silence for most of the day” description of what they do.

    • No I had never heard of them, so I just found their website and read a dozen or so links they have… looks likes their “solitude and silence” is only canceled on particular designated recreation days….and I don’t think I could go weeks and weeks waiting for those recreation days! And I also don’t think they’d care for my…..uh….’saucy’ language 😉

      They are definitely an interesting group of monks to say the least….who knew a monastery existed in Wyoming of all places! thanks for the info

  8. Reblogged this on Eucharistimatic and commented:
    Spot on!!!

  9. “No matter how high you can spit, it’s gone come down to your face”
    Whatever your child does, it’s still your child .Rules were made for a reason though and keep in mind “limit” is the dead line. Have you ever heard the saying, “You are , who you with” (maybe)
    I would have a lot of interesting and devastating stories about religious in my country, Albania my parents generation.
    Please, don’t fall of the cliff. 😃

    • Yea, I can’t imagine all that has occurred in Albania throughout the years.

      “whatever your child does they are still your child”

      I agree…’s so sad that so many parents don’t think that way

  10. I am currently reading Richard Wright’s “Black Boy” and there is a stanza that hit me as being very true for my own experience with religion, and I thought it would apply here also.

    “Wherever I found religion in my life I found strife, the attempt of one indivdual or group to rule another in the name of God.”The naked will to power seemed always to walk in the wake of a hymn.” Richard Wright, “Black Boy Chapter 5.

  11. Reblogged this on jenusingword's Blog and commented:
    I’m agnostic but really enjoy this guy. I really liked this post a lot.

  12. “It’s easy to love people when everything is going good…..but you really find out the true measure of a relationship when conflict occurs” – Love this! It’s so beautifully said and so true 😉
    Great article, Kenneth, and I’ll certainly be there tomorrow ^^

  13. Is this for real, as in not fiction? “After they kicked her out she started smoking crack and now she’s pregnant with twins and all by herself at a homeless shelter. I go and visit her but it’s not like I have any money to help her out” she said.”

    I’m appalled by the parents of this girl. They call themselves Christian, let alone human? Shame on them!

    • Obviously I’ve edited the story quite a bit in order to preserve the privacy and anonymity of those involved. But yes the story is true…and although the daughter didn’t start smoking crack the minute after she got kicked out; unfortunately that is one of the things that ended up going on in her life after being alienated from the parents

  14. For over 15 years I was in the crazymatic church and the things we were told we should not do was quite crazy, and it wasn’t only the church I was in. Due to being kicked out, pushed out, and asked to leave more churches than most people will go in a lifetime I haven’t been to church now for over six years. The one thing I did and still believe is that if it isn’t a salvation issue then I have no place to judge you. You know even the Bible says, “He who throws the first stone…”

    • Mwlord,

      Occasionally, I’m asked if the people from these hardcore fundamentalist churches really act as intensely as I suggest….but it sounds like from your own experiences that you’ve seen what I have seen and know what I’m talking about

  15. I do not get it. But that is maybe because of a family a close one at that who was a mixed marriage. Yes a Christian and an atheist. He on the other hand was clear. Kids go to church until at least age 12 with mum. after that they may choose what way to go. And all but one kept their religion.
    being to soft and helpful can be. Helping is one thing but we should be careful not to make them dependent on our help.
    As for the Deacon. I think he needs to go back to school. she started smoking crack after being thrown out. now he can easily be blamed for that for not being a Sheppard to the sheep lost. His own daughter. a little leniency is sometimes better than being hard ass. pardon my french

    • I agree with you….the deacon seems to have his priorities a tad out of alignment…..and I like your statement “helping is one thing but we need to be careful not to make me dependent on our help”

  16. We can never be too forgiving. How can any of us deny to others what we require from God constantly? Jesus says that we are to forgive our brother “seventy times seven” as stated in Matthew 18:22 NKJV. In fact the book of Matthew has many scriptures on forgiveness and how it is for our own benefit.

    How can we expect to receive forgiveness if we aren’t willing to forgive? PRIDE is probably the one trait each of us has at some point that blocks our ability to do this. Pride can blind us to everything including our own faults and just plain common sense.

    You are not soft. Just wise.

  17. This is such a sad story. Heartbreaking, really. I wonder if there might be a whole lot more to it? Maybe it’s not so cut and dry as it seems–mean parents throw out rebellious daughter… There’s a lot of talk about forgiveness and grace here, but most of your readers jump to condemn the parents. Maybe that judgement is deserved… maybe not.

    • Agreed; There’s always more to the story…..especially with my articles because I have to omit a lot…..but suffice to say this is not the only example of parents who won’t allow their children to live at home if they don’t abide by certain rules……..

  18. If “how things look” to others, (be it in one’s religion or otherwise), is what drives a decision regarding how one treats another, then compassion has left the building. Great post! Peace . . .

  19. I have never read the whole Bible through….but I do believe what I have read is quite simple.
    The words I have read, (my opinion)…clearly read…God is love. I believe that’s what He wants us to do. JUST LOVE. No matter what.

    However, that being said, I also believe that this is all happening with a change in our society and culture. Like your post yesterday…people of ages are changing. Times of “strict” are changing. Which can be a good thing or it might be a bad thing. Sometimes less is more.

    It saddens me to hear men of the church..deacons, pastors, etc, do not follow the law of the Lord. They are in the seats of the supposed right hand…yet no love comes forth…and we wonder about our youth?

    • I agree with all you wrote. Some of the things that are changing are good (like equality for women, etc) other things may be bad (like too much dependence on technology) ..

    • My wife read the Bible cover to cover just so she could say she had if someone challenged her on that front.

      I’ve read it all the way through as well, save for the “Apocrypha”, which are the books St. Jerome did not include in the Old Testament, as New Testament writings did not mention them. But they are still part of the Jewish holy writ, specifically, the Prophets, or what is now known as the Talmud. When Jesus referred to “the law and the prophets”, he was referencing the Torah (the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses) and the Talmud, which was the scripture of his day.

    • …and see. I can not argue (not that I would) with someone that has that much reading and research behind them.
      That being said, what do you believe God wants from us as individuals?

    • My experience– not just what I have read, but what I have seen and witnessed– is that He wants us to be happy. He wants us to have the life that He has. He loves us, just like any parent that loves their children.

      That is as succinct as I can describe it.

  20. Agreed on too much tech. LOL…we will be the 57 yr old..soon. Asking what happened?

  21. How ironic are things sometimes! I am the one who ask my mom if she’s coming to the Church… I never push her in this direction and it doens’t mean I wouldn’t mind to see her next to me…Then I’m imagining myself 20 years back with a baby at her door; not in a million years she will throw us away.
    What am trying to say… being a parent is not a five minute job, it’s take a hell in XXI century to be a PARENT.

  22. There is no way you are too soft. I hate how traditions and religion are often used to guilt people. Part of what makes us human is learning from our mistakes. We create and discover through trial and error. To me, that should go for faith as well. Am I not allowed to question whether or not God expects us to follow all these very specific rules? Is it impossible for me to question religious dogma with being perceived as questioning God? People, especially religious people, who kick daughters out for getting pregnant will never make sense to me. How is that helpful, loving or christian. Maybe a deacon with a pregnant daughter doesn’t look good. I think a neglectful father looks worse.

    Short story to go with that opinion: Growing up, I went to a Catholic church. There was a lot of hype about the pedophilia cases, some of which occurred in my town. The actual events took place with a different priest long before I was born. The priest we had at the time was a wonderful man. He didn’t hold himself above anyone. One day, at the end of mass, he addressed the community on a very personal decision he was making. He was part of an organization that helped children. There was a young boy, around the age of 7, who had been removed from his mothers home. The court I ruled her unfit. All I know is that a lot of drugs were involved. He stepped forward and said, “I could deny this child shelter. I could say that it looks bad for a priest to have a boy living with him while this issues are going on in the church. That’s not what I’m going to do. God is calling me to shelter this boy. You are all welcome to stop by my house at any time. You need no invitation. I hope this boy will have more than just me to look to. I hope we can all be a family and welcome him.”

    After a few years, the priest legally adopted the boy. He is the only Catholic priest I’ve ever know who adopted a son. He did something that didn’t look good at the time, but it sure looks good now. A child in need was able to grow in a stable home with tons of people to support him all because one priest did not stand down to the fear of “not looking good.”

  23. Well written – wow – you have such a balanced and loving tone. And whew, this is such a “loaded topic” – but sadly, many Christians need to be witnessed to – although the definition of Christian is so varied and well, deacon schmeacon is what I say – because a position at a church – no matter how big the country club of a church – well does not always mean they are sold out or on fire for Christ. For example, in the 90’s we knew a guy that was a deacon at this huge church in a suburb of Denver. Well two years ago he admitted that he never really even accepted Christ as his savior – and while God welcomes doubt – and of course we all have to come to truth on our own path – the point? – Many times we CANNOT look to “professing” Christians for love – or even for wisdom! We have to turn directly to God – and His word – and trust that He will put the right people in our path for healing, growth, and strength.

    I think it was Ghandi who saw the incongruence between Jesus and his followers in this culture – he was puzzled by how Christians do not follow – or even know – what the teachings are. Some take old testament history and treat it as doctrine – others are religious snobs – or worse – angry legalists that hurt many people across their paths – (as you noted in this post). And sometimes the children get the worse end of this.

    Now we all know that nobody is perfect – but hopefully with posts like this – awareness can be raised about angry and mean demeanors – that possibly “throws the baby out with the dirty bath water” – but gosh, I truly believe that many Christians do not know what to do when certain problems come up – so we offer grace to them – and sadly, so many Christians who are completely missing the mark with their cold, mean behavior.

    • “I think it was Ghandi who saw the incongruence between Jesus and his followers in this culture – he was puzzled by how Christians do not follow – or even know – what the teachings are”

      yes. Earlier in the year I finished reading Gandhi’s autobiography and that is exactly what he talked about….he didn’t understand how so many followers of Jesus seemed to entirely miss what Jesus was getting at…

      thanks for the comments and well said 🙂

  24. one more comment, keep in mind that we do not have to learn all life lessons through experience or trial and error – so sometimes we cannot just condone unhealthy behavior as training. In fact, the wrong passiveness (in the guise of exploration needs) could allow someone to have unneeded consequence and much pain – however, Proverbs 22:6 in the BIble talk about training a child when they are young – so that when they are old, they will not depart from it – suggesting that there may this doubting, questioning, exploring time – until wisdom sets in and balance and truth is found.

    However, another gross mistake is misunderstanding Proverbs 13:24 – which mentions “spare the rod and spoil the child” – which is often interpreted as tough love or spanking kids – by authoritarian Christians who scar their kids for life. I heard that this verse is referring to loving instruction – and rod means teaching or guiding – because it is a Shepherd’s analogy – and you would NEVER see a sheep herder beat his sheep – instead – his rod, or staff, would guide the sheep – using taps on the ground to signal directions – or sometimes to pull one to the path. So kudos to this post that presents this loaded topic with a nice tone –

  25. Sadly a lot of Christians react out of fear instead of grace. Jesus was the “friend of sinners” because his relationship with God could not be shaken by other peoples worldviews. We build temples around our relationship and treasure the temple more then the treasure within. If your life challenges what I have built I am afraid it will collapse if I let you touch it. We need to let the temple fall so that the real beauty of God within can show.

    • “Jesus was the “friend of sinners” because his relationship with God could not be shaken by other peoples worldviews. ”

      Andy, great point…..I wish more Christians would really take that to heart

  26. All things are permissible, but not all things are wise. That’s the key Biblical concept that controlling Christians tend to ignore. People shouldn’t be demonized for their choices, they should be cared for and helped to better understand the dangers and repercussions of such choices.

  27. You reminded me of a website I went to and got a free ebook from. Seriously awesome book about bad church experiences. It’s at:

  28. “Too often people use religion to heap heavy burdens upon others that are too difficult to bear.”

    Your first three bulleted points, Kenneth, are proscribed by our dietary law (“The Word of Wisdom”), but please, allow me to clarify on a personal note. I take exception when people say things like “You can’t drink alcohol or caffeine because you’re Mormon.”

    Why? I have personal reasons as well why I don’t. I drank, once. But alcohol + me = scary bad times. I pretty much had to swear an oath to my terrified wife that I wouldn’t do it again. And caffeine? Well, recently, leadership said that cola or other sodas were never prohibited. So I swigged my Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew in all sorts of odd colors with gusto, and energy drinks, when I could tolerate the nasty taste. But then I found caffeine messed me up pretty hardcore– taking it anytime save the wee early morning would make it hard for me to sleep the following night. So… not only do I not drink coffee or tea (which are specifically prohibited), but no cola or soda with caffeine (which are not).

    Tobacco? I tried it, didn’t see the appeal. But I’ve had friends that smoke, and I’d rather keep company with them outside (since Washington state bans smoking indoors) than worry about second-hand ills.

    • Jaklumen,

      yea I totally understand why people don’t care for caffeine….I’m very careful about the amount of caffeine I ingest…..I keep a really close watch on it….and I do the same for sugar, carbs…and everything else inbetween.

      Sometimes caffeine gets a bad rap because if you ask me; sugar is a greater threat to the health of people than caffeine

    • Kenneth, you know I’m speaking purely for myself. I can’t even eat chocolate before bed. I’m honestly not preaching to you; I don’t have a problem with you drinking coffee, and I apologize if I seemed say so otherwise.

      The other members of my family respond very well to caffeine, actually– as they have ADD/ADHD, it tends to calm them, actually. I’m not 100% sure about my daughter.

      Now, on that front, my kids’ pediatric office eschews sugar, even though there has been no conclusive evidence that sugar makes kids hyperactive. That said, there are studies that suggest too much added refined sugar in our food, especially corn sugars, are contributing to an international obesity epidemic. But this is considering a number of factors; I’m sure scientists would say it’s too simplistic to call sugar a health threat in and of itself. They don’t even agree about any health downsides to coffee and tea– they don’t agree if it’s caffeine, or other elements.

      Aside from tobacco, the only studies that have been reasonably clear in regards to our dietary law is grape juice vs. wine. The most recent thing I’ve read suggests that while there may be benefits from drinking a small amount of wine, many of them can be had drinking the unfermented stuff. That seems to be much more pat than caffeine vs. sugar, although I’ve generally been advised by dieticians/nutritionists to eat whole fruits over drinking juice.

      My daughter adores bacon, though I would be loathe to suggest she should preach to Jewish and Muslim folks that bacon is good. Even so, I know that diet is still a choice– I can still remember watching a Jewish friend of mine happily eating a ham and cheese sandwich and I about died because I knew it wasn’t kosher. We had an amusing discussion and I was reminded not all observant Jews keep Kashrut.

    • Ya make many good points 🙂

      I work in a very predominant Muslim community once a week and I also frequent a kosher (Jewish) coffee house so I’m always trying be conscious of where other people are coming from in relation to diet as well 🙂

  29. you spend a lot of time in cafes

  30. “It’s easy to love people when everything is going good…..but you really find out the true measure of a relationship when conflict occurs”
    Your friend sounded like a wise person. I always treat people as I would hope they would treat me if our situations were reversed, even when I know they wouldn’t be kind. It is a much easier way of life than living with conflict.

  31. thank you for following my blog! you have incredibly helpful and insightful articles and i look forward to reading more of your stuff! cheers! =)

  32. “It simply doesn’t look very good for a deacon and the church secretary to have a unwed and pregnant daughter living at home…about to give birth to twins…….especially if the daughter doesn’t believe in the religion anymore….and so they’ve chosen to kick her out of the house??? Seems rather extreme if you ask me.”

    And if you ask me, it doesn’t sound rather Christian, either. This is why as I child I was veered away from organized religion. and I won’t lie- I was kind of afraid to read this article and hear how great His love is.
    But people like you open my eyes up to Christianity- the religion isn’t stupid.

    Yet people who talk about how God is LOVE, acting like they’re doin’ what jesus would do while, meanwhile, they kick their kids out of the house and have the nerve the shun them ARE fucking stupid.

    I’m not religious. I can’t claim to know much about Jesus. But from everything I’ve heard, Jesus wouldn’t SHUN his goddamned kid out because she “sinned”… doesn’t Christianity have something to do with forgiveness?
    I only know this phrase from a Wyclef song: “He without sin cast the first stone.” I looked it up- it seems quite relevant.

    Thank you for liking my post, btw!!! 🙂

  33. As always, written lovely & very insightful! Nice to read through all the comments (Well, most) and see all of the opinions on these thoughts.

  34. Loved this write-up! It is quite pointed and touches on the mind-set of the day. Parents kicking their kids out, disowning, etc. for what seems like foolish reasons and violative of the precepts put forth by their religious tenets. Apparently, the deacon forgot that Jesus hung out with sinners, hmmmmmmm… People get burned out on religion due to parents, unanswered questions, conflict, & contradictions. I, too, was burned out due to Pastors, as well as, other problems & predicaments. But I remained a believer, just non-practicing and many anger issues between myself & God. Life is a culmination of choices, both good and bad. To separate ourselves from the memory of those bad choices we also separate ourselves from part of made us who we are. Again, thanks for this write-up!


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