Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Good Father Addendum

I think it should be noted that the previous list was made while I did not consider myself a Lutheran. I was. I was just in denial.

I was also in college in rural Utah. Before I went to college, I was attending a non-denominational "fellowship" and working at a Christian bookstore. I also don't know that I had come to see dating and relationships as being the road to marriage. I still only viewed them as ends in themselves. I probably would've been spared a lot of heartache if I'd had a healthier perspective. But I still bought into the world's perspective of "school, career, adventure, and then marriage" but who wouldn't enjoy the company along the way?

I'd at least had the common sense to establish beforehand that when I moved to Utah, I would not date a Mormon. I could not imagine him serving my purposes, and I knew that I could not serve his. I would never become LDS and therefore never marry in the temple. But that was the limits of the criteria that I went in with.

Many people don't realize how completely the LDS church pervades the culture in Utah. It has a tight rein on the state and local governments, can determine whether or not you get a job, and is also the main force in most people's social lives there. I had a professor who quipped that if you weren't 3rd generation Utah Mormon, you were an outsider. It is truly a different culture, even non-Utah Mormons experience culture shock upon moving there, and I can vouch for the fact that reverse culture shock is experienced, also. The pastors that are there are truly missionaries in a spiritually unfriendly land. Just seeing a passing stranger in Kmart who was wearing a cross was a comforting reminder that "I am not alone." Those of us at Southern Utah University (a public university) who were not Mormon (forget even Christian) felt a bond with each other based solely on that fact. So, that became the definition of my dating criteria as well.

Anyway, as I described below, when I moved there, I attended a Baptist church and was relatively happy there, except for the fact that I couldn't seem to find a comfortable place regarding the sacraments. While I still struggled with the idea of baptism as a proclamation of faith - I still didn't have a problem with the validity of my infant baptism and the fact that I did really receive the Holy Spirit there. I also could not bring myself to take Communion where they did not believe that Christ's Body and Blood were indeed present with the bread and the wine.

I had a flirtation (and nothing more) with an Episcopalian, but as our friendship progressed, I realized we were on two different pages morally and Biblically. I also dated a Catholic for two months and that became very clear that would not work. (No one prays to St. Thomas of the Roads to protect him in MY car - even if that u-turn wasn't particularly legal!)

I was probably married to my Lutheran seminarian for two years and close to giving birth when I realized that I couldn't imagine what it would be like to marry someone who wasn't Lutheran. So many people don't think it matters - but what about when the birth of your child comes up and all of a sudden you realize that your spouse thinks that it is abominable that you would want your baby baptized?

Or even before that. I can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to worship with my husband or commune with him. That would break my heart. (even though I have generally spent the first three years of each of my children's lives griping that I don't worship WITH my husband...he's in the pulpit while I'm wrestling my escape artist toddlers to the ground in the narthex).

As Lutherans, we are in a very unique place in the Christian world, theologically. We reject the teachings of the Catholics that are non-Biblical, yet we hold to inerrancy of Scripture and we also reject that the waters of baptism and the bread and wine are merely symbols of Christ's forgiveness. There really is no other denomination that truly holds to that. We really can't yoke ourselves to believers in either Catholic or Protestant realms and find true unity and peace. That is something that I didn't quite comprehend when I made my list below and simply put "Christian."

Yet I also mourn that I can't simply tell my children "make sure they're good Lutherans" without a full checklist of what Lutheran is, thanks to the false teachings of the Evangelical "Lutheran" Church in America, who claim the name but not the theology, or even in the strongly varied teachings in our own Missouri Synod. But as parents, it is our job to teach them what their faith means, and to pray that God protects them and keeps them in that faith. And we do teach them, even now--especially now, before those hormones kick in and make it a little harder to listen.

Still, I have visions in my head of the Cheers episode where Woody (LCMS) and Kelly(ELCA) realized how different they really were--after their wedding. When I first saw it, my friend Pete and I were rolling on the floor laughing (with a bunch of our Mormon dormmates wondering what was THAT funny). Now that I have children, I don't think it is as funny as I did then.

(though I can't believe that I can't find that clip on YouTube!! Some technologically savvy Lutheran fan of 1980's and 90's sitcoms has got to put that up!!).


Susan said...

Rather than telling the kids that it's important to "marry a Lutheran," maybe you could teach them that it's important to marry someone who believes what they believe. But then you have to be sure they don't understand that in the minimal sense.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...'s not a huge deal. I figure that we teach and we pray that God provides them with good spouses, and we trust.

But wouldn't it be nice if it were more cut and dry? Every denomination has people who know their theology better than others, and I suppose every church body has their conservative and liberal branches....but of course we all wish that it could at least be somewhat easier!

Kirken said...

ieSome days looking at the kids in our community I get scared for my boys. But then I am happy to think that this fall they will be surrounded by other Lutheran children in school and church (they are really the only ones that attend regular at the church we attend now) and then when DH starts at the seminary. I figure we just have to show them and teach them and pray for them and trust that God will show them the right person for them.

DH and I were not Lutheran when we met and only started going when we wanted to get our sone baptized. I grew up catholic and he grew up united and we were both unhappy with them and the first time I attended at the Lutheran (LCC) Church I knew that this is where God wanted us to be. Everything was what I believed.

I have come to find out in the last few years that my dad's side of the family were all Lutheran except my grandma went to the catholic church when they had moved to town but that grandpa had always been. Then I come to find out that members on the other side of the family were Lutherans too my great grandma became united and then my grandma catholic. We also found out that my great,great, great grandpa was a Lutheran minister. I guess that God had to lead us down that road again and I am happy that I listened that day that He wanted me at Church. :-)

Totallyscrappy said...

LOL! I'd forgotten about that scene in Cheers! And I watched that in the dorm of Concordia, St. Paul which, of course, made it funnier!