So, I have been thinking lately about where we learn our values and morals. Obviously, we typically learn them from family members or other influential adults. I am of a mind that being raised in a church affected my moral view of the world. My boyfriend believes it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children and that church isn't necessary. And maybe that's true. But I think going to church affected the person I have become. (and, incidentally, my boyfriend was raised Catholic so who knows how that may have influenced his development) There is (another) great article in the December issue of ELLE that is called "Confessions of a Very Good Girl" by Carlene Bauer and it talks about this very issue. Bauer talks about the lasting imprint of her strict religious upbringing even though she is no longer a practicing Christian in the framework of visiting a Christian women's conference. This is my favorite part:
"And yet the words the Gospel writers have Jesus speaking--"This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you"--still have a hold on me. So while I feel that Jesus as I understood him would not be down with the intolerance aired onstage, I also feel that he wouldn't want me to be standing here seething with bitter and self-righteous feelings. Jesus might even feel moved to remind me that is was Christianity that helped me to build a strong sense of purpose and self-respect--qualities that drove me to excel at school and eventually got me to New York. Jesus made me who I am today, I suppose. And I'm still having a hard time deciding whether that's something to value or to regret, or both. Sometimes it seems that all I got from those years of churchgoing was the inability to lie. But my religious education also taught me to value people and ideas over money. It taught me that abstract concepts of love and justice and mercy can be, should be made real. It gave me--pardon the expression--character.
It happened that before I got religion I got feminism, and it was religion that introduced me to the notion that there was more to life than boys; it helped me to avoid the messes girls get into when they can't see any other way to feel good about themselves.....Christianity tells you that you are destined for something more than life on earth, and while I wasn't particularly looking forward to heaven--it seemed at once terrifying and boring--I did respond to the idea that we were more than our bodies..."
It's a thoughtful article and I recommend that you look it up and read it.
I feel that Christianity made me who I am today. I did learn values from the adults around me growing up but most of those adults were in the religious sphere.
Can you be a moral person without religion? Of course you can. But I like what Christianity has taught me and I like the examples that is sets. And I hope to raise my children in the church someday. While their godless communist of a father sits at home and watches football. (just kidding Gary)