Monday, August 04, 2008

Why I am terrified of having kids

All of us have experienced being outmaneuvered by a younger, more favored sibling. One event in my life was when I was minding my own business, eating my noodle soup, with a glass of orange juice on the side. F-, my younger brother, feeling a bit malicious at the time, then takes my orange juice, pours it into my soup, and starts laughing. We were very young then.

I do not tell my mom, who was sitting just close by but who did not see the incident. After so many "incidents" like this, I have learned to keep my trap shut—it will always begin with me making an "accusation" that F- will vehemently deny, progressing to my strong insistence to prove that the incident happened and that F- was responsible, with F- going on to say that maybe I did that to myself, seeing as there was no sense to him doing it, finally my Mom (or Dad) refusing to see the "evidence" and getting mad.

In the end, I just throw the soup away when Mom isn't looking and try to find some other food elsewhere. Meanwhile, F- has his fun and I have my peace.

When I was in the Philippines, a nation of double standards when it came to religious faith and practice, I must say I was still shielded from the gross disbelief of people. While atheists and agnostics were the faceless enemy, I frequently waged war on them in forums and on the writing of article. I was sure of the rightness of my cause and confident that, once everyone can see things with an unbiased eye, people will see that, truly, there is a God, that God revealed himself ultimately in Jesus, and that He gave His life to save many.

Moving to Australia was a shock. I already knew that Australia was an atheist nation and I had my doubts about living there. From my last few posts, you can see that my reaction to Australia was overwhelmingly positive. But it was still a shock to suddenly be confronted with the divide between atheism and Christianity here.

Atheists are no longer the faceless, wicked enemy I so casually battled with on the forums online. They are still wicked, true, but they are also people. Some have become my friends. However, they have assumed the role that F- used to fill, that of favored child that can harass with impunity, display contradictory behavior and moral "standards" (what they call "standards" anyway, which is actually just a vague pastiche of various political views and dietary convictions) and still hold the moral high ground (at least in their eyes). At last I know what homosexuals and communists felt so many decades before—having to hide their true self, their true beliefs and their true convictions because they do not want to be rejected... and hurting at the same time. It is a blessed relief to be able to go home and be able to join hands with Ærynn and pray over a meal. I watch, silently, as my friends at work make fun and jeer at Jesus (yes, actually make fun of Him, as if He was some ridiculous figure of the same mold as George W. Bush) and refer to Christians as backward, stupid and foolish. I feel guilty over the nickname they bestowed on me, The Professor, over my perceived smarts and genius... I feel guilty because I know that once I admit that I actually believe in the Bible and put my faith in it over technology (not Science, mind you; it is a mistake that everyone makes, to equate technology and Science), they will start condescendingly thinking of me as backward, stupid and foolish.

And Christians... oh, Christians! They are so aware that they are a chosen group of people stuck in the middle of an unbelieving world. They are so aware of it, in fact, that while their theologians and church leaders are rapidly changing their catechisms and statements of faith into something far from biblical, they have set themselves so much apart from the world as to make them look like a laughingstock. One mother, for instance, forbade any of her daughters to listen to the radio... rrrright. Such a victim mentality and a sense of "us against the world"... while they glibly and flippantly take the Lord's name in vain—by prophesying things that don't come to pass (such prophets were supposed to be considered false... these ones, apparently, are exempt) or by long prayers (specifically discouraged by Jesus) and by long, repetitive singing with wild gesticulations (specifically discouraged by Paul, so that non-believers cannot happen into a worship service and think Christians were crazy).

And, in the end, not much feeding.

The trend? Most of the youth, all the cool kids, all the smart kids... all these are made to feel that, if they value their freedom and intellects, they are not supposed to be religious, and therefore they aren't. Most of the old people, especially the intractible ones, the bigots, the bogans, and the non-cool kids (or at least those who have been parent-pressured)... those are the ones in the churches. There is, of course, some overlap... lots of overlap. And the churches have a disproportionately large amount of migrants from countries like the Philippines, filled with people seeking the religion they grew up on, and making do with what they have.

But if you want to say "here's a typical example," that is it. I never understood Jesus' animosity towards the "religious" crowd, yet still be who He was, and yet, on top of that, make friends with the "sinners"... until now. Most of the friends Ærynn and I have are not Christian, while most of the Christians who should have been our friends have basically turned us off (except for one married couple). We really hated the combination of "holier-than-thou" (while extremely conscious that, when I say that, I am also being "holier-than-thou, a position I find uncomfortable) and victim mentality.

At the same time, Ærynn and I cannot show our real selves (as Christians who truly believe) to our non-Christian "friends".

When in Oz...

It is hip to make fun of Jesus and Christians if you're an atheist or agnostic, and to be paranoid, holier-than-thou teetotallers and pronounce that everyone else is predestined to Hell if you're a Christian.

I'd rather not be hip.
Now, what does this have to do with having kids? I desperately want to be a father. I desperately want to have a beautiful daughter. I desperately want to have a capable son. But what happens if I have my kids here? Will I slowly watch as my children, deprived of a proper church upbringing that this country cannot give, begin to think that a belief in global warming is more important than the forgiveness of sins? Will I watch when my kids would feel that it is more evil to eat meat than to engage in premature and premarital sex? Shall I watch them eventually identify more with their footy team, guzzle beer and smoke... than with their backward, stupid and foolish parents? Shall my wife and I be one of those old people, holding hands alone in church?

And even if my kids grow up well, shall I watch their choices of a life partner be limited to the very people I didn't want them to become?

I know I shouldn't try to control the destinies of my children, but I have to admit that I am terrified of having kids because of these.