Should a Teenager be Made/Forced to be Confirmed

Because the Sacrement of Confirmation is meant to be a Sacrement of Maturity, should a Catholic Child/Teenager be Confirmed even if He/She does not want to be Confirmed? Or if the reasons the kid is being confirmed either because it's expected, he/she will receive a party/presents or for similar reasoning which has nothing to do with wanting to become a stronger Christian/Catholic, should they be allowed or even compelled (eg bribed) to receive the sacrement?
Let's say that (hypothetically) one of my children tells me that she doesn't really want to go through everything to be confirmed. She doesn't even like to go to Mass and it's a constant struggle to get her to mass let alone trying to get her to do anything else with regards to Church, We have brought her up in the Church but still she tells me that she doesn't care about being confirmed. She is 14 and tells us she feels that it would be like lying to be confirmed because she believes in God but doesn't agree with some of the things the Catholic Church teaches. We have been over what she has a problem with and even had her speak with a priest,
Because Confirmation is a sacrement of "maturity" (it says something about this in the ccc), and also a sacrement that the person goes to on their own (i.e. mom and dad had her baptized) - and has to go to classes on her own and also do many service hours in order to receive this sacrement, shouldn't I allow her to wait instead of forcing her? Personally, I don't feel that forcing someone to go and say, I want to receive this sacrement so that I can be a better Catholic and because I believe everything in Catholicism (when she doesn't believe either),, wouldn't that be forcing her to lie if she received the sacrement "because we forced her"? We bring her to church but can not force her to go to confession (we can bring her but she has to be the one to go)- wouldn't in a case like this (although hypothetical) - wouldn't it be better not to "force" her to be confirmed?
God Bless
Rye

I dealt with the one child who didn’t want to be confirmed thus:

“As your mother I cannot force you to receive a sacrament. I can, though, make sure that you are prepared to receive a sacrament. You are going to all the classes and I will be there to help you with what you need to do. When the time comes, whether or not to be confirmed will be up to you but at least you will know what you are refusing.”

When the time came he received the sacrament.

A correction though, it is not a sacrament of maturity since babies in danger of death should be both baptized and confirmed (in the Latin Catholic Church they can’t, however, be given Communion). It’s about the graces & gifts received, not about what is done to get to stand before the bishop.

It is in a sense a sacrament of maturity. But that doesn't mean it should only be received by people who understand and accept 100% of what the Church teaches. The Sacrament of confirmation itself gives the recipient an abundance of sacramental grace, and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, including wisdom, understanding etc. In the Eastern Churches Confirmation (Chrismation) is given to babies immediately after baptism. In many Western-rite Catholic dioceses, Confirmation is generally given before First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, at about age 8.

Provided your child at least wants to love and serve God and grow in knowledge of Him, she should be confirmed. Though you should certainly discuss it with her, in the final analysis a 14 year old is bound to obey her parents, who have, at her baptism, solemly sworn to God to do everything in their power to bring her up as a Catholic - this includes making sure that she receives Confirmation. .

\A correction though, it is not a sacrament of maturity since babies in danger of death should be both baptized and confirmed (in the Latin Catholic Church they can’t, however, be given Communion). \

And in the Eastern Churches (Catholic and Orthodox), babies are confirmed (Christmated) right after baptism and brought to communion from that point.

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]
Because the Sacrement of Confirmation is meant to be a Sacrement of Maturity, should a Catholic Child/Teenager be Confirmed even if He/She does not want to be Confirmed?

[/quote]

This is a very common, and very incorrect, understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

It is not a "sacrament of maturity." It is a sacrament of strengthening in the Holy Spirit. What is confirmed is our Baptism. It is the Bishop who does the confirming, not the person being confirmed.

It is not a rite of passage, a reception into adulthood, a "decision" to be Catholic, or any such thing as is often proposed. An unconscious person can be confirmed. A baby can be confirmed (and is confirmed in the Eastern Catholic rites). It is not about "maturity" or "decision making."

It is an obligation of every Catholic to be confirmed.

So, my answer is yes.

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]

Or if the reasons the kid is being confirmed either because it's expected, he/she will receive a party/presents or for similar reasoning which has nothing to do with wanting to become a stronger Christian/Catholic, should they be allowed or even compelled (eg bribed) to receive the sacrement?

[/quote]

Yes.

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]

Let's say that (hypothetically) one of my children tells me that she doesn't really want to go through everything to be confirmed. She doesn't even like to go to Mass and it's a constant struggle to get her to mass let alone trying to get her to do anything else with regards to Church, We have brought her up in the Church but still she tells me that she doesn't care about being confirmed.

[/quote]

A person such as this needs the Sacrament and its graces more than anyone else!

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]
She is 14 and tells us she feels that it would be like lying to be confirmed because she believes in God but doesn't agree with some of the things the Catholic Church teaches. We have been over what she has a problem with and even had her speak with a priest,

[/quote]

She is already a Catholic. There is some mistaken notion that at Confirmation one is "choosing" to be Catholic or "confirming" their faith. This is NOT true. Your daughter is Catholic by virtue of her baptism. The Sacrament of Confirmation confirms her Baptism, completes the Sacraments of Initiation, and strengthens her in the Holy Spirit.

If she is in any little way open to that grace-- she needs it. Keep encouraging her to be confirmed.

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]
Because Confirmation is a sacrement of "maturity" (it says something about this in the ccc), and also a sacrement that the person goes to on their own (i.e. mom and dad had her baptized) - and has to go to classes on her own and also do many service hours in order to receive this sacrement, shouldn't I allow her to wait instead of forcing her? Personally, I don't feel that forcing someone to go and say, I want to receive this sacrement so that I can be a better Catholic and because I believe everything in Catholicism (when she doesn't believe either),, wouldn't that be forcing her to lie if she received the sacrement "because we forced her"? We bring her to church but can not force her to go to confession (we can bring her but she has to be the one to go)- wouldn't in a case like this (although hypothetical) - wouldn't it be better not to "force" her to be confirmed?
God Bless
Rye

[/quote]

Perhaps keep studying the sacrament withi her, help her understand it's not about choosing to be Catholic.

I don't think she has to be confirmed at 14. But, she does need to be obedient to the Church-- which obligates her to be confirmed. Yes, confirmation can be delayed. But, you shouldn't frame it as "you don't have to" and more as "we can delay it a little while and study/pray some more."

Personally, yes, I would make my child get confirmed. But only you can judge the right thing to do for your own child.

[quote="ryecroft, post:1, topic:182199"]
Because Confirmation is a sacrement of "maturity" (it says something about this in the ccc), and also a sacrement that the person goes to on their own (i.e. mom and dad had her baptized) - and has to go to classes on her own and also do many service hours in order to receive this sacrement, shouldn't I allow her to wait instead of forcing her? Personally, I don't feel that forcing someone to go and say, I want to receive this sacrement so that I can be a better Catholic and because I believe everything in Catholicism (when she doesn't believe either),, wouldn't that be forcing her to lie if she received the sacrement "because we forced her"?

[/quote]

Confirmation is not primarily a sacrament of maturity. We know this from the fact that Eastern Catholic Churches confirm infants immediately following Baptism. In the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) paragraph I think you are referring to, note the qualifying words "although" and "sometimes":

1308 Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian maturity," we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need "ratification" to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this:

Age of body does not determine age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or measured by number of years. "Many children, through the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the shedding of their blood.

Confirmation is primarily a sacrament of strengthening. That's what the "firm" in Con*firm*ation refers to. The Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way to strengthen us, making us able to witness to our faith in Jesus Christ. It sounds like exactly what your child needs. You don't need a perfect, mature faith to receive the Sacrament; the Sacrament helps to perfect and mature your faith.

Unfortunately, the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered much too late in many Latin rite parishes. It should be given near the age of reason (age of discretion), around age 7 (see CCC #1307). Like Baptism, it is a sacrament of initiation, not a sacrament of adulthood. By the time our children are teenagers, they have already been subjected to too many worldly temptations without the benefit of grace of this Sacrament, and they are at an age where they are predisposed to reject things we propose to them (like receiving Confirmation). For a more thorough treatment of the subject of appropriate age for Confirmation, see Thomas K. Sullivan's article, ewtn.com/library/CATECHSM/CONFIRM1.HTM ; there is a section on "THE AGE OF CONFIRMATION," but the whole article is worth reading.

We cannot "force" reception of a sacrament. In fact, the Sacrament may even be invalid if a person who is of age has not even a minimal intent to receive it. However, given that we as a community have done our children the disservice of delaying the Sacrament, we as parents can at least do our very best to learn about the benefits of the Sacrament and demonstrate these to our children. I think Mr. Sullivan's article will give you some good fodder for this discussion with your child. In fact, the language of knighthood and spiritual battle can be very appealing to some kids.

I also like Phemie's idea of "forcing" class attendance but not "forcing" the Sacrament. This will get around the very likely situation that it is basically laziness making your child reject the Sacrament. And if the preparation program is as described in CCC #1309, it should be very good for your child.

"Forcing" a teen into confirmation seems very ill-advized. The person who suggested forcing class attendance had a good idea. Maybe the classes aren't so good but there's RICA, the quality of which varies from diocese to diocese. There's tons of study DVD's and there's the catechism. Why not work through each question the teen raises to resolve the questions one by one. This would force their analysis of these questions rather than allow them to simply walk away in teenage disgust. Make a deal they don't have to be confirmed but they have to submit their reasons and allow you to present "answers" in the form of courses, readings, lectures, etc. over the course of say one year. At the end of the year, they have to explain why and how they have not resolved the issues and discuss whether it makes any sense to decline confirmation.

This brings me to an alternate Q about a sibling who was confirmed and drifted in college then married some brand of Evangelical. 20 yrs. later, she still prostelyzes constantly in a Moonie-style fashion. Every happenstance of fate, i.e. being near a hospital when she got sick, finding a job after being laid off, she attributes automatically to His providence, sounding almost like a Muslim who laughs and says that anything that happens is oh well, Allah must have willed it. Although there isn't any anti-Catholic spouting, it appears very subliminal. I see complete delusion and happy face Christianity with little depth. It's irritating to the rest of the family who are a mix of Catholics. Other than prayer, is there anything a person can suggest to intice the person to reexamination? Catholics Come Home online has a great video. Wish there was a way to send it anonymously but doubt that would help. There's a strong undercurrent of Lutheranism by the spouse which I suspect was the impetus for this 20 yrs. ago.

I have to admit that this is a completely different idea than I was given when I was confirmed. I was made to do service hours to help people out and it was made clear that this was something that had been held until 8th or 9th grade in order that we would be “mature” enough to receive the holy spirit. I did read about how in the non Roman Rite of Catholicism, it is often imparted at Baptism -
I guess it has stayed with me as something that should only be done when someone is mature enough to say they “want” to be Catholic and will do all they can to be a good one. I have always had not a problem, but a wonder about one thing that is present in Catholicism (and this hsould be proabably another thread as well) - that is that once Baptized Catholic, it seems you are always considered Catholic even if you convert to Judaism or Islam (at least according to the Catholic Church) and it would seem even if you have no desire to be considered Catholic any longer (I am in no way implying this is how I feel) - that by the Catholic Church, you still are considered such. Yet this doesn’t seem to be present (or spoken about at least) with any other religion that I’m aware of.

God Bless
Rye

[quote="ryecroft, post:8, topic:182199"]
that is that once Baptized Catholic, it seems you are always considered Catholic even if you convert to Judaism or Islam (at least according to the Catholic Church) and it would seem even if you have no desire to be considered Catholic any longer (I am in no way implying this is how I feel) - that by the Catholic Church, you still are considered such. Yet this doesn't seem to be present (or spoken about at least) with any other religion that I'm aware of.

God Bless
Rye

The Catholic Church is the only Christian group who really takes Christianity SERIOUSLY.

Other religions... Islam, you can convert and they will happily kill you for doing it.

[/quote]

As the pps have mentioned, even a baby can be confirmed.

But, your daughter is not a baby, she is well above the age of reason. That means her mental disposition to the sacrament becomes an issue. She can’t be made to participate in a sacrament against her will.

She sounds quite lukewarm though, rather than really actively against the idea. Very 14 year old-ish. Has she done the preparation for confirmation? Do you feel she has a reasonable grasp of what it means, and what it means to be a Catholic?

If so, I guess my question would be - will you do more harm than good by insisting she be confirmed? I think in such cases it can be questionable whether the sacrament occurs validly - intent is a rather subtle issue. So whether it is then a real vehicle for Grace becomes a question.

Also, especially for kids that age, they are sensitive to issues of form and content. And they can be quite black and white about it. If she thinks that the form of the sacrament - going through the motions - is more important to you, or to the CC, than what she actually believes and wills, she may well simply discount it as not meaningful or real. ( I think this kind of thinking often results in kids who simply dismiss religion, or move to a more Protestant evangelical, faith alone approach.)

She is 14, so she will be living at home for a few years. My answer would be to insist she do the prep, but not the sacrament. I would continue, if she decides not to, to talk to her about it, and encourage her to grow in her faith in other ways. She may change her mind in a few years, and even if she doesn’t, she’ll not have dismissed the whole thing as an empty formality, but will see that it is meant to be full of meaning. THat can only serve her well in the future.

I think "forcing" her into it would only be a invitation for her to become angry with her parents and the church and turn her back on the teachings of both.

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:11, topic:182199"]
I think "forcing" her into it would only be a invitation for her to become angry with her parents and the church and turn her back on the teachings of both.

[/quote]

I agree. I was one of those willful children. I refused to be confirmed at 14 because I could not make the decision to participate in the sacrament not believing in the faith at all. But I later came back into the Church wholeheartedly at 24. (Our confirmation class also contained a very elderly gentleman, so it was all ages.)

Do not force a child to be confirmed. Encourage, admonish, teach. Just because we baptize them into the faith does not mean that they will follow when they are older. She/he must make their choice of faith on their own, and 14 is an acceptable age for her/him to begin to choose.

No the child over the age of reason, generally age 7, is an adult for the purposes of the sacraments of initiation and cannot be forced to be confirmed, baptized, or receive first communion for that matter. it is a grave violation of canon law. As DRE I would have to refer this family to the pastor if they came to me with these types of grievances and issues. Only he is competent and has authority to make this decision to confer, or delay, the sacrament, because he is the one who recommends the candidates to the bishop and certifies they are willing, properly disposed, and prepared.

THANKS, 1ke!!!
I needed to read this. :thumbsup:

In no way have I meant to trick anyone with this post- in the original post I stated that this was a "hypothetical situation" - this is kind of true- this isn't my daughter but one of our God Children. She has a lot of questions about the faith and is no longer of the age to be just told "you'll do this because we're Catholic and because I said so..." - she needs answers and as her God Mother, I have done my best to give her all the answers that I could with regards to Catholicism, but I will not sugar coat some of the answers to questions she is posing to me about things that she has read about happening in the Catholic Church or lie to her that her parents follow every teaching of the church - they use birth control and both children are aware of this.. She also is telling her mom and I that she doesn't think a group of people has the right to tell her what she can do with her body (yes I've told her it's first God's Body then hers)- with regards to birth control and her sexual life. I was suprized to hear her talk about having a "sex" life and of course I've explained to her what the Church teaches regarding this. She is very mature for her age and has made it clear to her parents and to myself what she would like to do - and that she will go to mass but does not want to participate in anything else Catholic because she feels that she would prefer to investigate other religions until she finds one she feels is "right" for her. I never told her this but I did go through something similar to what she is going through. I have not reccomend to her mother or father that they force her to go through with anything else Catholic. She is at an age where she is questioning many things - and I will deffinately not reccomend that she be confirmed right now - what I will tell her is to read about some Saints and find one that she can relate to and or admire (we've already spoken about this)- and I will also tell her that her mother and I have spoken and that I agree that she doesn't have to be confirmed now but that if /when she changes her mind in the future she will be able to be confirmed. I see no good coming from "forcing" her to get confirmed and as one person mentioned on here - doing that will cause her to resent her mother and father and possibly myself. Ideally, I wish she wanted to be confirmed, but neither her parents or I will "punish" her by taking anything away. In all honesty,I believe it took her a lot of guts to come to not just myself but to her mom and honestly tell us how she was feeling. I think it would have been wrong of her to go through Confirmation with the idea she was doing it just to get it over with or to make either her parents or myself happy. We have discussed taking something away from her like her allowance or time out with her friends- but these are not what's keeping her from wanting to participate in Catholicism and be confirmed-and that would be punishing her for telling the truth and speaking her mind - her father is very staunch Catholic and it's a little harder to get him to go along (he liked the idea of taking things away until she changed her mind - but now he's more on board with giving her some time. I may be her God Mother, but I wasn't asked to be here and force her to be Catholic. If there has been something she has asked me about that I havn't been in agreement with with regards to the Church, I have given her the answers based on the CCC. She is very smart and she is of an age where she can think fairly well for herself. I'm kind of hoping that when she investigates some other sects, she'll find that the Catholic Church has more answers than the others - I just can not see God wanting us to force her to be confirmed - or even bribed into being confirmed. She has said she would finish up her service hours which I find to be very mature. It also seems that she will be brought to church with the family most of the time - if they allowed her to stop then it could send a message to the younger children that since she doesn't have to, they need not as well. I don't believe that she's old enough to make all adult decisions (she's 14) but she has really shown us that she has put a lot of thought into this. The Priest told them to pray regarding this - In the end, She will still be exposed to the church but will not be required to participate. I really believe this is the best way to deal and I thank all of you for your comments and help!
God Bless
Rye /COLOR]

Your god child is following the example of her parents. They have a pick-and-choose attitude towards Catholicism. They have rejected the Church’s moral teachings. They have taught her to have the attitudes and ideas that she has.

How pathetic.

[quote="ryecroft, post:15, topic:182199"]
She has a lot of questions about the faith and is no longer of the age to be just told "you'll do this because we're Catholic and because I said so..." - she needs answers and as her God Mother, I have done my best to give her all the answers that I could with regards to Catholicism, but I will not sugar coat some of the answers to questions she is posing to me about things that she has read about happening in the Catholic Church or lie to her that her parents follow every teaching of the church - they use birth control and both children are aware of this.. She also is telling her mom and I that she doesn't think a group of people has the right to tell her what she can do with her body (yes I've told her it's first God's Body then hers)- with regards to birth control and her sexual life. I was suprized to hear her talk about having a "sex" life and of course I've explained to her what the Church teaches regarding this. She is very mature for her age and has made it clear to her parents and to myself what she would like to do - and that she will go to mass but does not want to participate in anything else Catholic because she feels that she would prefer to investigate other religions until she finds one she feels is "right" for her. I never told her this but I did go through something similar to what she is going through. I have not reccomend to her mother or father that they force her to go through with anything else Catholic. She is at an age where she is questioning many things - and I will deffinately not reccomend that she be confirmed right now - what I will tell her is to read about some Saints and find one that she can relate to and or admire (we've already spoken about this)- and I will also tell her that her mother and I have spoken and that I agree that she doesn't have to be confirmed now but that if /when she changes her mind in the future she will be able to be confirmed. I see no good coming from "forcing" her to get confirmed and as one person mentioned on here - doing that will cause her to resent her mother and father and possibly myself. Ideally, I wish she wanted to be confirmed, but neither her parents or I will "punish" her by taking anything away. In all honesty,I believe it took her a lot of guts to come to not just myself but to her mom and honestly tell us how she was feeling. I think it would have been wrong of her to go through Confirmation with the idea she was doing it just to get it over with or to make either her parents or myself happy. We have discussed taking something away from her like her allowance or time out with her friends- but these are not what's keeping her from wanting to participate in Catholicism and be confirmed-and that would be punishing her for telling the truth and speaking her mind - her father is very staunch Catholic and it's a little harder to get him to go along (he liked the idea of taking things away until she changed her mind - but now he's more on board with giving her some time. I may be her God Mother, but I wasn't asked to be here and force her to be Catholic. If there has been something she has asked me about that I havn't been in agreement with with regards to the Church, I have given her the answers based on the CCC. She is very smart and she is of an age where she can think fairly well for herself. I'm kind of hoping that when she investigates some other sects, she'll find that the Catholic Church has more answers than the others - I just can not see God wanting us to force her to be confirmed - or even bribed into being confirmed. She has said she would finish up her service hours which I find to be very mature. It also seems that she will be brought to church with the family most of the time - if they allowed her to stop then it could send a message to the younger children that since she doesn't have to, they need not as well. I don't believe that she's old enough to make all adult decisions (she's 14) but she has really shown us that she has put a lot of thought into this. The Priest told them to pray regarding this - In the end, She will still be exposed to the church but will not be required to participate. I really believe this is the best way to deal and I thank all of you for your comments and help!
God Bless
Rye /COLOR]

If I were you, or if this were my child, I would make sure that she is still receiving Catholic education. If her PSR classes aren't answering her questions adequately, I would seek out a good RCIA program. I would also make sure she is still attending Mass and would also encourage Eucharistic Adoration. It certainly doesn't help that her parents aren't reinforcing Catholic teaching - at least it doesn't sound that way from your post. (You're claiming the father is a staunch Catholic, but then admit that the parents don't follow every Church teaching. :confused: )

Hopefully her parents (and you) will be with her to help her "investigate" these other sects that she wants to try out. Otherwise, being an impressionable teenager, she may just be taken in by the trappings of any number of Protestant churches (i.e. great fellowship, great music, nice minister etc) the same way many adults are, or she may encounter simply a charismatic preacher, enthusiastic Mormon missionaries, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. who may lead her astray simply because they can quote scripture or because of their enthusiasm. She is obviously not well versed in her own faith and can easily be led astray because of her inability to defend her own faith which she is questioning to begin with. She doesn't need any misrepresentations of Catholic teaching from non-Catholics when she already has doubts. She needs education and reinforcement of the Truth.

[/quote]

I agree with this. "If you don’t want to receive the sacrament, you absolutely do not have to. I would no more force you to be confirmed than I would force you to receive Holy Communion.

“On the other hand, I won’t accomodate laziness, either. Would I let you skate through high school on low-level classes that are below your ability because you thought you had no interest in college? Hardly. Would I let you get away without the knowledge or the work ethic to keep up a household? No way. You’re going to do laundry, you’re going to do dishes, and you’re going to do housework, because you’re going to need those habits, even if you decide to be a lousy housekeeper after you leave home.”

“You’ll do what you’re capable of doing. What you decide to do with the opportunities that will give you is up to you.”

[quote="puzzleannie, post:19, topic:182199"]
God bless you for a great example of what a godparent can be doing for the children entrusted to them in that role. This child is very fortunate. It cannot be emphasized enough how important another good Catholic adult godparent or sponsor is to a teen at this time.

For the teen that definitely rejects Confirmation at the time they are called by their bishop, the thoughtful parent, sponsor or catechist will make sure they know precisely what it is they are rejecting. They are saying no to ALL, not just aspects they do not yet fully understand, that the Church has received from Christ and is teaching. They are rejecting explicitly their baptism, their adoption as a child of God, and their membership in Christ's Mystical Body, His Church, as they reject the authority and love of the bishop's call to them. They are also commiting the intellectual sin of refusing to accept instruction--not a sin against God necessarily but a sin against their own intelligence. For someone to say "I don't understand and accept all the Church teaches, so I reject all the teaching, plus I now reject the efforts being made to teach me in my ignorance and answer my questions" is about a foolish a statement as can be made by someone of a notriously foolish age. (that is the actual meaning of "sophomore" by the way).

The root of the dilemma for teens in this mindset however is very seldom a blanket rejection of the faith, but an honest and understandable reaction against Catholic adults they know or are close to who are themselves not living up to the Faith and are causing scandal. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for adults who mislead the young in this way. So those adults who by their individual actions have caused youngsters to doubt the entire Faith and the entire Church will pay the price in eternity.

[/quote]

You know, I am not so sure that I can agree with this. For example, I agree that it can be a sin of intellectual pride to reject something like the teachings of a religion until it is understood fully. But that does not mean that it is never legitimate to refuse to accept a religion one can't understand or reconcile oneself to. Just because one has recieved the "standard" instruction in the faith that is provided does not mean that one has reached a place where it would be reasonable to accept that wholly.

And I also disagree that any person rejecting (or questioning/struggling with) some of a groups teachings is therefore rejecting the others.

What seems to be forgotten here is time. It takes time to learn enough about any complex religious system to say one embraces it. I might come to the conclusion on Tuesday that Jesus is the son of God. If that is the only thing I know, or am sure of, than it really isn't enough material to become a Catholic, or a Lutheran, or even a Mormon. And it will take time to learn more.

I also think that bright teens very often take longer to work through this process than other kids, and that very often, what they learn in Church is not enough. They are able to ask questions or see possibilities that the basic instruction doesn't really address. And sometimes, they are able to see the questions, but until their brain power matures a bit, they are not able to see the answers.

As a teen, I was a lot like the OPs niece. At about 14, I decided that I wasn't a Christian - not that I didn't want to be, but that I really didn't know enough to say that I was or know what that meant. I spent a lot of time as a teenager looking into various religious beliefs, or non-religious beliefs. It was interesting, and I learned a lot. Some were clearly silly, others compelling but not totally convincing to me, and understanding why was very revealing in many ways. I looked again at Christianity when I was a bit older - 19 - and studied it at an academic level, and eventually I decided that I would become a Christian. THat was my journey, and I honestly can't say I was wrong at 14 to say that I wasn't a Christian, since I could not do something like recite the Nicene Creed with any real conviction that it was true.

And would I be as "good" a Christian now if I were contented to say I was a Christian as a 14 year old, if I had thought that level of understanding was enough? Well, who knows, but I would not be willing to say yes, anymore than I think someone like St Auguistine would have been as great a Christian thinker as he was if he had somehow been content with what his mom gave him as a child.

A very wise priest (and very orthodox too) once told me, speaking about Augustine, if you are the kind of person who asks those questions, than you need to find the answers in order to act and believe. God makes some people that way for a reason, and undermining that searching benefits no one.

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