Family Issues
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01-04-2016, 11:33 AM
Family Issues
Let me start by saying that I am 31 years old, married, and have lived away from my parents for 10 years. My mother has known about my doubts for years and has thrown away many a "questionable" book, beginning when I was 17. Clearly she has bought into the religion thing with every fiber of her being. We have had discussions, albeit that is an incredibly generous term for what actually transpires, around the topic of religion and whether or not I am a Christian. The last time she directly asked this question was 6 years ago when we were 45 minutes into a 4 hour road trip to her Mecca: Branson, Missouri. The next 3 hours and 15 minutes were awkward to say the least. Just a few days ago on Easter Sunday, the topic reared its ugly head, except this time over the phone. She asked me point blank and I told her in no uncertain terms that I do not share her belief system. We discussed contradictions in the Bible, which in her mind are not contradictions, until she got uncomfortable enough to change the subject and leave the phone conversation for household chores. A few days went by with no interaction between us, which is most definitely a good thing from my perspective. On Thursday, I was given a three page note which I have decided to transcribe for everyone on this forum:

"In the rich man and Lazarus parable - the great chasm is between Heaven and hell - not Heaven and Earth. There is nothing said about not being able to travel from Heaven to Earth.

Hell is mentioned many times in the Bible. In Matthew 5:24 Jesus mentions the fire of Hell. Matthew 5:29 Jesus speaks of Hell again. Matthew 5:30 Again, Jesus mentions Hell. Matthew 10:28 Tells us to be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 18:9 Jesus tells us of the fire of Hell. Matthew 23:15 Jesus calls someone a son of hell. 23:33 Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are in danger of being condemned to hell. Mark 9:43 Jesus speaks of hell once again. 9:45 Jesus again speaks of hell. 9:47 Jesus again speaks of hell. Luke 12:5 Jesus tells us to be afraid of the devil because he throws us into hell. 16:23 Rich man and poor Lazarus again - same thing - chasm between Heaven and hell. James 3:6 Hell is mentioned once again. 2 Peter 2:4 Peter mentions hell.

When God created the world - everything was perfect. Humans were given free will and were coerced into sin. You know that. God is love, but He is also just, too. The wages of sin is death. Thank God that he devised a way for us to get back in good graces with Him. His Son - Jesus - the spotless Lamb of God, took on our sins, took them all the way to the cross - again, you know all of this. Believe This. I do. Your Dad did. Your grandparents all did. What can't you? You did once. What happened? You were led by wrong teachings and wrong people. People who don't understand. They must be taught, too. God loves you. He called you to be His child. It is that simple. The faith of a child, remember? That's it. You don't have to figure it out or question God's motives. You don't have to do anything. Just accept.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you and continue to read the Bible. Not the other stuff that you think is more educated or intelligent.

Children can believe. People who are mentally challenged can believe - it is that simple. I believe. I know that your dad saw grandma. He questioned why? He never questions if. I was so happy that he was comforted by her presence and I was comforted to know where Dad was heading. He is waiting to see you again. He loved you and [Sister's name redacted] so much! He wanted the best for you always. We both believed Christianity is the best both for us and for you. Is there something better? NO. This is not educational - it is spiritual and the most important choice that you will ever make - not to reject God. Don't reject your faith - it is there deep inside you and don't let anyone else squelch it. I love you. You have always fought the establishment. This is one establishment that you cannot fight. God is on your side. He wants you to prosper. Don't judge His ways - He's the judge. He's the Creator. He's the Savior. Just open your heart - not your intellect - you can't understand. None of us can. Just accept. Let the Holy Spirit do His job. You are already His child. Don't fight it. You'll find that true happiness comes from knowing and loving God. Read that Bible. If you have lost yours, I have plenty. Don't fight the words. Pray about them. Accept them. Believe God's promises. He has never lied and He never will. You are His precious child - and mine. I wish your dad was here to help you. You might listen better to him. In times like this I miss him terribly, but I can tell you this - he would agree with me and pray so hard for your return to Christianity. Don't be ashamed to be a Christian. Some people are misguided. Forgive them and pray for them, too. Help others always. Don't be selfish. Don't work for yourself. You work for a much Higher Power.

Speak to your Pastor. He seems to be someone that you respect and listen to. He can discuss things much better than I can. That should be where you start. Don't look to others - look to God ad His world and His representatives.

God loves you. I love you.

-Mom"

There are so many things wrong with this letter, not the least of which being the emotional terrorism of bringing my father who died of cancer in January 2015 into the conversation. If her intention was to bring me back to Jesus, this letter could not have failed more miserably.

In the future I will probably speak to her about this letter and how horrible, condescending, and logically flawed it is. But for the time being, I have decided that no contact is the best contact. I have removed her from my Facebook and blocked her number. You have to love an accepting family, right? No

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.
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01-04-2016, 01:08 PM
RE: Family Issues
She's not going to change, to her, losing her faith is worse than death.

If and when you get back with her, just make clear that discussions of religion will not take place anymore.

It is futile, both parties fail, and everyone is miserable.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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01-04-2016, 02:26 PM (This post was last modified: 01-04-2016 06:00 PM by carol.)
RE: Family Issues
(01-04-2016 11:33 AM)StrangestTribe Wrote:  Let me start by saying that I am 31 years old, married, and have lived away from my parents for 10 years. My mother has known about my doubts for years and has thrown away many a "questionable" book, beginning when I was 17. Clearly she has bought into the religion thing with every fiber of her being. We have had discussions, albeit that is an incredibly generous term for what actually transpires, around the topic of religion and whether or not I am a Christian. The last time she directly asked this question was 6 years ago when we were 45 minutes into a 4 hour road trip to her Mecca: Branson, Missouri. The next 3 hours and 15 minutes were awkward to say the least. Just a few days ago on Easter Sunday, the topic reared its ugly head, except this time over the phone. She asked me point blank and I told her in no uncertain terms that I do not share her belief system. We discussed contradictions in the Bible, which in her mind are not contradictions, until she got uncomfortable enough to change the subject and leave the phone conversation for household chores. A few days went by with no interaction between us, which is most definitely a good thing from my perspective. On Thursday, I was given a three page note which I have decided to transcribe for everyone on this forum:

"In the rich man and Lazarus parable - the great chasm is between Heaven and hell - not Heaven and Earth. There is nothing said about not being able to travel from Heaven to Earth.

Hell is mentioned many times in the Bible. In Matthew 5:24 Jesus mentions the fire of Hell. Matthew 5:29 Jesus speaks of Hell again. Matthew 5:30 Again, Jesus mentions Hell. Matthew 10:28 Tells us to be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 18:9 Jesus tells us of the fire of Hell. Matthew 23:15 Jesus calls someone a son of hell. 23:33 Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are in danger of being condemned to hell. Mark 9:43 Jesus speaks of hell once again. 9:45 Jesus again speaks of hell. 9:47 Jesus again speaks of hell. Luke 12:5 Jesus tells us to be afraid of the devil because he throws us into hell. 16:23 Rich man and poor Lazarus again - same thing - chasm between Heaven and hell. James 3:6 Hell is mentioned once again. 2 Peter 2:4 Peter mentions hell.

When God created the world - everything was perfect. Humans were given free will and were coerced into sin. You know that. God is love, but He is also just, too. The wages of sin is death. Thank God that he devised a way for us to get back in good graces with Him. His Son - Jesus - the spotless Lamb of God, took on our sins, took them all the way to the cross - again, you know all of this. Believe This. I do. Your Dad did. Your grandparents all did. What can't you? You did once. What happened? You were led by wrong teachings and wrong people. People who don't understand. They must be taught, too. God loves you. He called you to be His child. It is that simple. The faith of a child, remember? That's it. You don't have to figure it out or question God's motives. You don't have to do anything. Just accept.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you and continue to read the Bible. Not the other stuff that you think is more educated or intelligent.

Children can believe. People who are mentally challenged can believe - it is that simple. I believe. I know that your dad saw grandma. He questioned why? He never questions if. I was so happy that he was comforted by her presence and I was comforted to know where Dad was heading. He is waiting to see you again. He loved you and [Sister's name redacted] so much! He wanted the best for you always. We both believed Christianity is the best both for us and for you. Is there something better? NO. This is not educational - it is spiritual and the most important choice that you will ever make - not to reject God. Don't reject your faith - it is there deep inside you and don't let anyone else squelch it. I love you. You have always fought the establishment. This is one establishment that you cannot fight. God is on your side. He wants you to prosper. Don't judge His ways - He's the judge. He's the Creator. He's the Savior. Just open your heart - not your intellect - you can't understand. None of us can. Just accept. Let the Holy Spirit do His job. You are already His child. Don't fight it. You'll find that true happiness comes from knowing and loving God. Read that Bible. If you have lost yours, I have plenty. Don't fight the words. Pray about them. Accept them. Believe God's promises. He has never lied and He never will. You are His precious child - and mine. I wish your dad was here to help you. You might listen better to him. In times like this I miss him terribly, but I can tell you this - he would agree with me and pray so hard for your return to Christianity. Don't be ashamed to be a Christian. Some people are misguided. Forgive them and pray for them, too. Help others always. Don't be selfish. Don't work for yourself. You work for a much Higher Power.

Speak to your Pastor. He seems to be someone that you respect and listen to. He can discuss things much better than I can. That should be where you start. Don't look to others - look to God ad His world and His representatives.

God loves you. I love you.

-Mom"

There are so many things wrong with this letter, not the least of which being the emotional terrorism of bringing my father who died of cancer in January 2015 into the conversation. If her intention was to bring me back to Jesus, this letter could not have failed more miserably.

In the future I will probably speak to her about this letter and how horrible, condescending, and logically flawed it is. But for the time being, I have decided that no contact is the best contact. I have removed her from my Facebook and blocked her number. You have to love an accepting family, right? No

I am confused about your goals. What does removing her from facebook and blocking her number do for you both in the long run? It will not calm her down, if anything it will make her more scared and upset. It certainly will not make you closer, or teach her that your behavior is reasonable and calm, ( and now she has a new reason to blame atheism or agnosticism for your behavior!) If your goal is to cut off all communication, then why would you want to speak to her about it? It would just cause more arguments.

I have family members who are religious and I want to encourage them to think about their religious views differently. I am an atheist, and I agree that the points she made about god and the bible are based on magical thinking and woo. I can understand it is frustrating to have a family member who is such a religious person. My brother, who is religious, is annoying about it too. He has written many pages of the same sort of letters to me over the years, and I do understand how that can feel.

But, I do not understand your reaction- you seem so upset, and the letter seems like most fundie letters I have read. Because your mother really believes what she wrote, I do not think she would find the letter to be emotional terrorism-or mean to hurt you by what she said. She seems to believe your father is in heaven waiting for you. She believes you are in danger and she is trying to save you from what she thinks is hell, and she wants to protect you, and she seems very frightened.

I do not know anything at all about your relationship, or anything else that happened in your life- and you could have very good reason to be angry with her, but the letter did not seem like anything unusual, it seems like a letter that other religious people would write to their families-I have read many of them, they all seem to say the same things- and I think usually the goal of the writer is to save their family member from hell. They believe that hell is real. I do not believe in hell, but the feeling of fear about it is very real to those people who do.

I am not saying that you have to force yourself to be exposed to constant criticism- you can set strong boundaries with her, it would not be hard to gently tell her that the conversation is over- and to let her know that you have to agree to disagree. If you are stuck in a car, tell her that in the future, you will not put yourself in a situation where you are in a car together unless she agrees to leave the topic alone. She will have to agree to this if you are to drive places together. If she starts to discuss religion in a car, remind her of the agreement, and gently change the subject. `

It all depends on what you want. If you want to come to some sort of peace about her beliefs and to help her get beyond her fears, then being angry at her just makes it worse for both of you. If you would like to be closer to her, you could simply accept the limitations she has, and just calmly love her anyway. If you decide that you do not want a relationship at all with her, then just stop talking to her about it.
I do understand your frustration and anger about religion, but your mother seems to have been taught to believe in it, and in my opinion, she is someone who needs your help- as she has been duped. You may not be able to convince her to change her mind, but why be so very angry with her about it? Just my two cents, mind.

I try to stay out of family stuff- usually, the things that make us so upset with family members is based upon years of things that add up, not based on a single argument. So, if you have years of built up frustrations, then have at it. You can also decide it is not something you would argue with her about, and just let it be, instead of bringing it up again. In the future, you can just tell her that you just will not discuss religion with her. You could send her a letter of your own, pointing out the contradictions you see in her beliefs. I hope that you can find a solution that will create a calm and loving relationship...and just set aside the differences until you can both discuss them calmly.

The biology of mind bridges the sciences - concerned with the natural world - and the humanities - concerned with the meaning of human experience. Eric Kandel
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02-04-2016, 02:45 PM
RE: Family Issues
Thank you both for your replies. I'm sure I will talk to her about this issue, but I am not in a place to have that conversation with her right now. Once I have given her my reasons for not believing and given her a chance to respond, I think your suggestion of taking religious dialogue off the table will be the best option. It will be difficult, as she is the kind of person who has Bible verses printed on her shower curtain (no exaggeration) and can turn any conversation into a religious one (my wife and I took her to Disney World in January and the question of whether she would like soda or tea turned into a 15 minute spiel about needing Jesus' love). To respond to Carol, I really did not have any goals in mind for this post, I was just venting my frustration. I probably would have handled it better had this been the first time such an issue has arisen, but I have been beaten nearly to death with her religiosity as far back as I can remember. I think the reason this letter hit me as hard as it did was because she brought my dad into the conversation. I understand her intentions, but I do not need that thrown in my face. Another reason this is concerning to me is because my wife and I are talking about having a kid and we do not want him/her to be taught the ridiculous doctrine of hell. I know that was a large source of anxiety for me when I was a child, and I in no way want that for my child. I am hoping we can work our differences out before there is an actual child in the picture so that she can be involved in its life to some degree.

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02-04-2016, 03:18 PM
RE: Family Issues
There are so many variables here it's impossible to know what to say. That being said, do what feels right and makes you the least miserable, if not happy. If that's possible.

Some distance is not a bad thing but I would at least let her know that in a positive way. Like a note from you saying you received her letter and you've decided you need some time away from this continuing confrontation with her and you feel that going forward some boundaries may need to be agreed upon before you are willing to communicate with her again. Ask her to respect your wishes about giving each other a break and you will contact her when you are sure of what boundaries you want to set for further contact. That way at least she knows what's going on and is not just imaging all kinds of things.

This gives you time, space and yet you're not being unkind regardless of how she's behaved.

I hope it works out for you but when you do set those boundaries be prepared for her to try and push them, that is what religibots are programmed to do. Hold firm and be prepared to continue to distance yourself from her if needs must. If it helps, think of it as a sickness or mental illness. Many before you have faced this and it can go many different ways. Do whatever works for you. Smile

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02-04-2016, 03:46 PM
RE: Family Issues
(02-04-2016 02:45 PM)StrangestTribe Wrote:  Thank you both for your replies. I'm sure I will talk to her about this issue, but I am not in a place to have that conversation with her right now. Once I have given her my reasons for not believing and given her a chance to respond, I think your suggestion of taking religious dialogue off the table will be the best option. It will be difficult, as she is the kind of person who has Bible verses printed on her shower curtain (no exaggeration) and can turn any conversation into a religious one (my wife and I took her to Disney World in January and the question of whether she would like soda or tea turned into a 15 minute spiel about needing Jesus' love). To respond to Carol, I really did not have any goals in mind for this post, I was just venting my frustration. I probably would have handled it better had this been the first time such an issue has arisen, but I have been beaten nearly to death with her religiosity as far back as I can remember. I think the reason this letter hit me as hard as it did was because she brought my dad into the conversation. I understand her intentions, but I do not need that thrown in my face. Another reason this is concerning to me is because my wife and I are talking about having a kid and we do not want him/her to be taught the ridiculous doctrine of hell. I know that was a large source of anxiety for me when I was a child, and I in no way want that for my child. I am hoping we can work our differences out before there is an actual child in the picture so that she can be involved in its life to some degree.

My oldest brother is a Jehovah's witness. I can understand how you would not want a child exposed to religion! Perhaps you could plan exit strategies when you are out with your mother- perhaps bring two adults and cars when you are with your mother so you will have a way to take your future child out of the conversation if need be?

Perhaps you could tell your mother that you will set aside a limited amount of time to talk about her beliefs, and that is it- say an hour set aside, away from other people every month or so. Even though it would be a pain, it may seem fair to her- she would feel listened to. It would also give you a chance to challenge her religious beliefs, and give your opinions. You can limit it to a certain amount of time and then think carefully about the next conversation.
If she started to talk about religion during your family time with children, you can remind her of the agreement, and if she continues, you can split up the group and take her home. If you took her home a few times, she will get the message that she will not have her fun with the grandchild if she does not stick to the agreement, but your child would still be able to have fun and enjoy the event.

I am very sorry that your mom is so religious- I had some problems with my mother and it can be so difficult. I had to have two different adults and two different cars in order to take her anywhere, so we were able to manage her behavior- (my mom had mental illness and was erratic sometimes, and she really acted out during holidays, trips to new places, and when around grandchildren- I think because of her excitement.) We had to really evaluate any trip in case she acted out...I wish you the best!

The biology of mind bridges the sciences - concerned with the natural world - and the humanities - concerned with the meaning of human experience. Eric Kandel
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