a guest post by Seymour Q. Relativist
I am writing to dissuade you from attending Coram Deo Church’s Raising Godly Kids conference. As a graduate student in psychology, I object to the very existence of this conference. It is an affront to progress, equality, and freedom itself, as anyone can see just by examining the three-word title.
Let’s start with the word “Raising.” Haven’t we finally moved past the tyrannical idea that parents should raise children? Raising seems to imply passing along values, convictions, and skills. It implies that parents are in authority and children are under authority. What a backward, old-fashioned, positively despotic notion! Children don’t need to be raised. They need to be left alone. They must be free to develop their own values, ideals, and dreams, mentored by their peers, the media, and especially the professors at the local university (who are, after all, the REAL experts on everything). In fact, parental authority is the problem in this world. If parents would stop trying to exercise authority, kids would have nothing to rebel against – and rebellion would become a thing of the past, like God.
Which brings us to the second word in the title: “Godly.” Only a fool would want their child to be known as “godly.” God is dead, as Nietzsche and Darwin have clearly demonstrated. If parents want their children to succeed in the modern world, they should long for them to be atheistic, liberal, and worldly. Away with superstitious religious dogma and moral absolutes! Ethics are relative. What’s right for one might be wrong for another, and vice versa. If a child wants to become a transsexual, a pornographer, or a liberal politician, who are parents to say such things are “wrong?” Children are individuals, and as such, they deserve the total autonomous freedom that is due every individual. When the last vestiges of tradition, transcendence, and religious morality have vanished from the earth, then we’ll finally be the enlightened society we’ve been trending toward. Any conference that champions “godly” kids ought to be opposed on the basic principles of free thought.
Finally, let’s talk about the word “Kids.” Seems harmless, right? Wrong. It reveals a basic flaw of the religious view of the world. Religious people are always dividing the world into categories – good/evil, believer/unbeliever, teacher/student, parent/child. Such dichotomies are merely hierarchies of power designed to maintain the privilege of the dominant class. Nevermind that this paragraph creates the same power play toward those who disagree with me. I paid good money for an undergrad liberal arts degree. Look, over there! A bigoted homophobe!
In conclusion, my dear readers, the core problem with this conference is that it assumes there are “right” and “wrong” ways to raise children. It purports to instill a vision for parenting that has definitive truth content. And of course, we all know that anything that claims to be true can’t be, because there is no such thing as Truth. It’s not even possible to differentiate good parenting from bad parenting, because that would imply some standard of judgment.
Why risk making parents feel bad? Parenting is a tough enough job already. I say, let every mother and father just do what seems right to them. In the end, if their kids turn out to be selfish, foolish, or wicked – well, that could have happened to anyone’s kids. I say: “You did the best you could.” (And I mean “best” in the totally non-evaluative sense of the word.)