The Weather in the Streets, shared a poignant story from her childhood. It happened to be about hell. Well, in part. Leah is Jewish. I don't know the Jewish theology on the subject, but her mother told her that "hell is a story made up to scare people into behaving."
Hmm. This really got me thinking, about hell, the nature of faith and God, and how, in the end, this might apply to parenting.
Just as I am not a Jewish theologian, neither am I Christian one, though I am a Christian. The Bible is very clear that the punishment for sin is death. Death. Not, hell. But hell is in there too, so... Well, I admit, I am not completely clear on the subject. This is where I refer you back to my disclaimer at the beginning of the paragraph.
Does this mean the I believe hell is made up? Well, in the same Bible, Jesus himself talks of God being able to condemn one to hell, so I am going to have to go with the it existing. Though, it is true that it has, throughout history, been used just the way Leah's mother described it.
As a child growing up, it was mentioned much more by people who wanted me to act a certain way, than it is in scripture. And lets face it, history is full of entire civilizations being manipulated with the fear of eternal damnation.
This got me thinking some more. Scary, I know.
Faith, or obedience for that matter, based on a fear of hell, is not faith at all, but extortion. Just as faith, based solely on the promise of heaven, is bribery. I consider my personal faith to be based on neither. They factor in, of course, but I believe in Jesus as Savior because of a personal relationship I have with Him, through prayer and scripture, and the million little ways he speaks to me everyday, if I bother to pay attention. I love God because He first loved me. I "behave" (to the extent that I do) because I want to please Him. And I have tried to pass this sense of relationship onto my children. I have never once invoked hell to them, and we talk of heaven as a place we go when we die, not a place we go if we are good.
This got me thinking some more.
If God is my father, and this is the relationship I have with Him, how might this translate to my relationship with my own children? Hmm. (That's the noise I make when I think.) I have come to the conclusion that, while correction, discipline, punishment, and even bribery (remember those gold fish crackers?) have a place in parenting, I parent best when my focus is building a loving relationship with my children, such that they want to please me.
But, as with most of the stuff I write, I could be completely wrong.