Suggested lesson topic: What to do when you are seven years old and do not want to go to church. Yes, I finally watched the video of the seven-year-old kid who drove away in the family car to avoid going to church (see posts at Get Religion or the SL Trib for details and the video). The story coyly refrains from noting which church the kid was fleeing, but the video comes courtesy of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, so I’m just guessing …
The “Purpose” blurb at the head of the proposed Primary lesson should explain that children should be instructed in safe methods for avoiding going to church when it just becomes too much for them. “My tummy hurts” is a nice starter, followed by “I feel like I’m going to throw up” if the first suggestion is not taken seriously. Sweaty palms are a good nonspecific symptom. Extreme measures like starting a fire or stealing the family car should be strongly discouraged and perhaps only alluded to elliptically. For adolescents, perhaps a Priests and Laurels Skip Day (modeled after the highly successful if mildly controversial Senior Skip Day traditions known to many high schools) would be the sort of safety valve they might need once in a while. Some mild form of experimental teen rebellion well short of rumspringa.
No, this isn’t really a serious suggestion, but there is a serious question in between the lines of this story. At what age does a kid get the right to decide to skip church a time or two? Eight, when baptized? Twelve, when they leave Primary? At sixteen? Eighteen? When they go to college? The obvious practical problem is that if you never give them an experimental free pass, they’re more likely to try it the first time they’re really on their own and never look back.
Maybe we should add a few points to the adult lessons, too. Don’t leave the keys in the ignition, even in Utah. Those battery-powered kiddie cars might be giving some kids a little too much knowledge a little too early. And watch out for the sweaty palm routine.