Sunday, July 20, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing

After leaving the Church and theism, my priorities and values have changed somewhat. I mean I still value honesty and kindness and such, but much that I used to respect is no longer important to me such as I looked negatively upon less than valiant church attendence, watching R-rated movies, and shopping on the Sabbath. I can't believe how much I fussed over things that I now believe don't matter.

Personally, I would have absolutely no problem with my young kids cussing if I lived a society where everyone is cool with it. The only reason I don't think it is a good idea for my young children to cuss is due to the negative reaction other adults would give. Some people might advise, "Screw what other people think, live your life the way you are comfortable". But, I have found that there are numerous advantages to socially fitting in, and small concessions are worth the pay off. Although I still feel that those who have a problem with cussing are raising much ado about nothing, I respect their right to value what they value.

So, what do you think people fuss over that you consider not that important? What do you think people blow out of proportion or over-emphasize? How have your priorities or values changed since leaving the church? What do people consider a sin or inappropriate that you don't think is a big deal?

It might be helpful to think about what you feel is most important. If you think it is most important to please god, then it might follow that you wouldn't want to offend him through crass humour or by working on Sunday, etc. However, if you think it is most important to enjoy life and your relationships, things like laughing at Family Guy or working on Sunday won't necessarily be all that important in the big picture.

What follows was a guy named peter_mary's response to my post and it described so well my wife's and my position about premarital sex and alcohol that I just have to include it here:

This list probably doesn't qualify as "much ado about NOTHING," but it most definately demonstrates the continental shifting of my thinking with regards to things the church REALLY pounds it's members over. The reality is though, it has made me a MUCH better parent of teenagers, I find I can enjoy their adolescence and young adulthood so much more fully because I am not worried about their eternal salvation being at risk every single day of their foolish, inexperienced young lives.

1) I am not concerned whether or not my unmarried children are sexually active in the context of a committed but unmarried relationship. I AM concerned about WHY they might be sexually active. We talked at length as they were older teens and young adults about the importance of respecting the boundaries of boyfriends and girlfriends, respecting their "good names" and not manipulating anyone for hedonistic gratification. We were clear on the reasons why sex too early is a bad idea, and why casual sex is a really bad idea (for young, stupid kids...lots of adults manage this just fine, and I have no opinion on it). So now, instead of telling them we expect them to be chaste until marriage, we tell them that we expect no grandchildren until they're married. So far, they've done a very good job of managing those boundaries on their own, and they have relieved me from worrying about them being cast into the pits of hell for committing a sin "second only to murder" in severity.

2) I am not concerned if my underaged children "try" alcohol (and they know they won't be in trouble if they tell me after the fact). I don't worry that they will be on the slippery slope to impending doom. Instead, we talk about the importance of sober living, keeping (and valuing) clarity of thought, and the various risks that people have to be willing to accept if they introduce alcohol into their lives. Furthermore, I remind them that the LAW prohibits the legal consumption of alcohol until they are 21 years old, and I expect them to be law abiding citizens. In that same vein, however, we allowed our 18 year old to try whiskey, wine and Guinness when we took him to Scotland because a) he was legal there, and b) we encouraged him to join us in participating in the cultural nuances of Scotland. He handled it brilliantly, and returned to his tee-totaling self upon his return to the land where legal drinking is 21. (None of the members of my family express any real interest in alcohol, but not for moral reasons...)

Both of those issues caused me no end of anxiety as the parent of young teenagers, and I am an infinitely better parent for having let that go of all that "ado".

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