The Reason Children Can’t Be Trusted With Theology

Feb 10 2012

Explaining God to my kids requires a lot of words.

I think that’s probably because I’m trying to explain God to myself at the same time.

As far as I can tell, people use more words the less they understand something.

That’s OK, though. That’s what words are for. To help us shape our understanding.

But sometimes I watch people use SO MANY WORDS that all I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah wah, wah wah, wah wah.

I was driving my five-year-old boys home from karate practice yesterday, and they asked about God. All of our very best conversations about God happen in our trash-riddled minivan to the sound of goldfish crackers dying as they’re crushed by cheap, broken tennis shoes or smothered in stained seats by tiny kid bottoms.

“Mom?” asked Cai. “You know how God and Jesus are the same?”

Sometimes teachable moments rush past me before I realize they’re in the room.

But sometimes, I bring my parenting A game, and I look that teachable moment in the eye. I can tell by its twitching that it’s about to escape. As it makes its move, though, my burst of speed is blinding. I catch the scruff of that moment’s neck and I hold it aloft. “Ah HA!” I yell in triumph. “I’ve got you now!”

I think this is an excellent place to tell you that my response to Cai was brilliant. I was articulate. I was THOROUGH. I took my college degree in history and religion, and I brought it, y’all, to the God-is-the-same-as-Jesus throwdown.

I talked about the Doctrine of the Trinity. I talked about the Distinct Persons of God. I talked about a unified whole.

“Wah wah, wah wah, wah wah,” I said. With conviction!

When I wrapped up, Cai sweetly encouraged me. “I don’t understand any of that,” he said. “That makes no sense.”

“No sense? No sense?!” I said, incredulously, as though I’ve never met my unappreciative audience. “Tell me, Cai, what makes more sense?”

Since he’s not very good at recognizing sarcasm, he answered me.

“It’s like this. There’s God and there’s Jesus. Just like there’s Kate and there’s Katia. …

(Kate and Katia)

“… she’s all the same girl, Mom. And it’s not important the names. Just that we love each other.”

And this is exactly why children can’t be trusted with theology, you guys.

They leave no room for the wah-wah’s.

And they think it all comes down to love.