Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Don't lie

.... In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal psychoanalyst Erica Komisar notes upward rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents and argues that much of this can be explained by the decline of religious observance. And she has the data to back up her claims—showing how belonging in a religious community lowers risks for mental illness. She further expresses alarm at the fact that the last twenty years have seen a 20 percent drop in attendance of religious services and that nearly half of under-thirty adults report no religious affiliation at all. This, she contends, makes for trouble.

“Nihilism is fertilizer for anxiety and depression, and being ‘realistic’ is over-rated,” she writes. “The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world.”

On this much, we agree.

Komisar’s counsel goes awry, though, when she discloses her advice for parents on how to talk about death if they don’t believe in God or life after death: “Lie.” ....

But the end-result of all of this is not psychological well-being, but a loss of integrity. How can a child trust a parent who intentionally lies about something as monumental as whether the universe is the creation of a loving Father or a random collection of particles whirling toward nothing? The end result of this is cynicism. ....

Moreover, great damage is done to a person who says something they don’t believe in order to get the results that they want. This is moral injury, not effective cultivation of the next generation.

So what should atheists say to their children, to protect them from the sort of nihilism that leads to despair? Well, I doubt they will want to hear this from an evangelical Christian, but I will give my counsel here anyway. Question why your beliefs lead to nihilism and despair. Examine the sort of love that you have for your children, the reasons you want them to avoid depression and anxiety. Ask why the loss of a sense of a transcendent Father God has left so many with a sense of meaninglessness. And then follow those signposts where they lead. I believe they lead right to a transcendent Father God who created and holds all things together in the person of Jesus Christ.

Don’t lie to your children. .... (more)

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