The relative in question is my first cousin once removed–i.e., the child of one of my first cousins, “Lynn,” and her husband, “Steve.” I’ll call the child in question “Jess.” Jess is 14 or 15 years old, and the oldest of four.
My wife & I went over to Lynn & Steve’s last night for dinner. As we sat down to eat, I noticed that Jess was not with us and asked where she might be.
“Oh, she’s on punishment,” Steve said. “Can’t leave her room except for emergencies, bathroom, and school.”
“I took her a plate right before y’all got here,” Lynn asked.
“What’d she do?” Mrs. Rhymer asked.
“She was really bad,” one of Jess’s younger siblings said. “And at **church **too.”
“It was humiliating,” Lynn said. “I’ve never been so embarrassed as when–”
Visions of smoking in the parking lot during the sermon, or making out in the back of the choir stand, ran through my head. Imagine my surprise when Lynn fiished the sentence thus:
“–Jess refused to say she believed Jesus died for our sins. She’s lucky she’s not my mama’s child. Mama woulda beat the black out of her.”
So here’s the thing. Lynn, Steve, & their children attend a Pentecostal church. Like many such congregations, theirs makes a big deal out of Sunday school, including setting time aside for each class to review, publicly, that week’s [del]indoctrination[/del] learning. This week, Jess’s class were all asked to stand in front of the congregation and affirm that Jesus was their personal savior.
Jess refused. She said–quite politely, by her parents’ account–that she couldn’t say that because she hadn’t taken Jesus as her personal savior. An impromptu altar call ensued, but Jess wouldn’t budge. She’s been reading the Bible, you see, and she’s noticed things she can’t say she accepts; she’s not sure whether God exists or not, and she feels it’s a lie to say otherwise. She doesn’t see the point in such a lie. If she’s right, then she has the right to say it; and even if she’s wrong, an omniscient God would know she as lying and she’d just add to her sin tally.
For this she got two weeks’ grounding.
Now, to fulfill the terms of the thread title:
Jess rocks. I wish that, when I was her age, I’d had balls as big and brass as she does now.
Lynn & Steve suck. The only good thing about this story is that they declined to spank her for her apostasy. Now, that’s not true. In a way the grounding is good; I predict it will cause the exact opposite effect as they intend.
ETA: I forgot to mention that they removed all the books in her room, with one obvious exception, and plan to give them back only after deciding which must be trashed as “dangerous.”