The term fairy tale is often used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in “fairy tale ending”. We all love things that have a fairy tale ending. It makes us feel good about ourselves and about life and it reinforces that life is okay and hence I am okay. Fairy tales have been part of life for hundreds and hundreds of years and I want to propose that the church of today uses a form of fairy tale in the way it teaches and integrates young people about the who is jesus christ faith.
The church has created a number of Christian fairy tales that cause young people to struggle and to fall away from their faith. These are stories and truths that the church has developed to make a ‘better life’ view about the Christian faith. They are based on the illusion of making the Christian faith seem like it has all the answers and solves all of lives problems. The church is trying to hide the realities of the world from young people in the hope that by the time they see what is real, they have already bought into the Christian faith and it is an integral part of their lives.
Fairy tales are used to describe a world that is not real but yet a place where people have the chance to escape the real world. As Christian adults we often do this as a way of dealing with pain in our lives and the fact that our lives haven’t turned out as maybe we expected because God hasn’t solved all of our life issues. Our understanding of God and our theology of the work of God in our lives and in this world is faulty. In our Western world we struggle with where is God, why do bad things happen to me, and we have a very weak understanding of the theology of suffering.
It is part of human nature to move towards where life is most comfortable. As Christians we do as much as we can to escape from suffering because it does not fit into our understanding of the Christian faith. And so we pass on this bad theological understanding and struggle with real life to our children and young people in the form of creating fairy tales about the Christian faith.
There are fairy tales such as: God will make your life happy and fulfilled, once you are in a Christian marriage then everything just works out, that because you have saved yourself for marriage then your sex life will be fantastic, God will never leave you hungry or in need, the church is like a big family or community where we care for each other, Christians aren’t concerned with material possessions, and many others.
Many young people I talk to are struggling or have walked away from church because the church has tried to create an unreal world where we all pretend that bad stuff doesn’t happen and where God will meet all our needs. Young people know this isn’t true and so get frustrated. I know many young people whose parents got divorced, who came from dysfunctional Christian homes, whose parents got cancer, who failed courses, whose families lived off hardly anything while other families in church lived in so much excess and where one of the youth group members died tragically.
Was God with these young people and their families when all these hard and tragic things happened? Yes he was… and the main thing these young people needed to know was that among the pain and confusion He was there. These young people I worked with knew that there was the good, bad and the ugly in life and what they were searching for was the presence of God in those situations and I do not think they were looking for God to be like Superman who would come and rescue the situation at the last minute.