TW is Catholic, and I’m not. We’re raising the kids American Catholic, which is a distinct thing. I don’t know all of the ins and outs, but I’ve made the decision to be respectful about the church and to let the kids figure out for themselves how much of what they hear they should accept.
I picked up The Girl from CCD on Monday. Car conversation:
Me: How’d it go?
TG: Ugh. The teacher said that gay people, and transgender people, and people who’ve had abortions, and pets, won’t go to heaven.
Me: She did?
TG: Yeah! Isn’t that stupid? I mean, I’m not any of those things, but…
Me: You’re not a pet?
TG: (sighing) Dad. (pause) I mean, why shouldn’t they go to heaven?
(This is where my “let them figure it out for themselves” strategy fails: she asked a direct question. I did the best I could on the spur of the moment.)
Me: That’s ridiculous. No dogs in heaven? It wouldn’t be heaven without them!
TG: Exactly! Why couldn’t Sally go to heaven?
Me: I have no answer for that.
TG: And gay people and transgender people? That’s just about who they love. And God is all about love!
TG: I mean, isn’t love supposed to be a good thing?
Me: I always thought so.
TG: And abortions, I mean, aren’t Christians supposed to be forgiving?
Me: I remember something about that.
TG: They are!
TG: It doesn’t make sense.
Me (softly): No, it doesn’t.
For a twelve-year-old, I thought she handled it pretty well. And I owed her more than a pure teacherly “what do you think?” response, because she wanted to know that I was taking her seriously. There’s a time to be neutral, and a time to own where you stand. She seemed to need to know that I had a view, and what it was. This wasn’t an attempt to set policy for an institution; it was a father trying to help his daughter square her moral sense with what she had heard. And to recognize that sometimes, they won’t square, and you have to make a choice.
She’ll have more choices to make. I hope she’ll keep asking.