Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
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10-09-2013, 12:17 PM
Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
My former pastor and theologian friend both tried to deter me from my evolution from being a former ordained deacon and lectionary reader to my present status as an atheist which took months. In his last email, he stated and I quote:

"I have missed you and your family in worship. XXXXXX (my wife) was here with XXXXXX (my daughter) several Sundays ago, but otherwise, I have missed you all.

Your absence has stirred me to pray even more for you, although I have been doing so regularly over these past many days. You are never far from my thoughts.

In my time with the Lord, His Holy Spirit seems to be giving me a particular word about you. It's the word "love."

Love will be the way you will return to the Lord your God, if that return is to be.

When I knew you before, that is, before your healing from addictions and depression, you loved God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You loved God deeply. Your love for Him was obvious, genuine, and inspiring. At the same time, however, you did not love yourself. You hated yourself, if that's not too strong a word for the brokenness you recognized in yourself and your loathing over it. You loved God and hated yourself. That was how I once knew you.

As I know you now, that is, in this period after your healing, as you have emerged from the fog a new man, you now love yourself. You love yourself deeply now, it appears. Your smile shines in your self-portraits. You love playing tennis and being active again. You love your renewed marriage and family life. You love being you. At this same time, however, you do not love God any longer. In fact, you hate God, if that's not too strong a word for the loathing and ridicule I hear and sense from you in all things related to Christ, faith, and so forth. You now love yourself and hate God. This is how I now know you.

But neither is the way of the Lord for you or anyone. Jesus commands us to love God and to love our neighbor as oneself. The way of the Lord then is not a hate/love or a love/hate scenario; it is always love/love. That is to say, true healing and eternal well-being flow only from a heart that both loves Christ and loves oneself in Christ, filled and sustained by His goodness and salvation and forgiveness and love.

Now that you have been healed by the work of the Holy Spirit, it grieves me that your love for God has turned to hate and rejection. The Lord loves you so much! Even now--perhaps especially now, God is your Waiting Father watching for your return as His prodigal son.

Why do you need someone to hate?

When the time comes, that you love both God and yourself, you will finally be home, fully and completely. I pray for that day, soon and very soon.

PS As I consider your family, Mark, please remember that your faithfulness or the lack of it affects your wife, son, and daughter so personally and spiritually. The thought that your family would be led away from Christ by your own compromised spiritual state saddens me very much. So many lives are at stake here, not one but four precious lives in the eyes of God. Know of my prayers for you all."

When I finished reading this letter, I was amazed at his boldness, I laughed at his portrayal of "God" as a loving father and then suggest He would endanger the lives of my wife and children due to my lack of faithfulness. That last part made me very angry to this day.

Despite this, for my wife's sake we left that church and joined a very liberal christian church. My wife is a christian but never reads the bible and has become irate when I point out it's irrational and amoral scriptures. She believes that I am a hypocrite as I used to be a very conservative bible thumping christian and now am an atheist. She said when I voice my atheism to her privately that she doesn't want to be around me. She did say, she was 'ok' with my unbelief as long as it doesn't affect raising our children in the christian faith. She likes it when I attend church with them as a family. She doesn't want me ever to role my eyes anymore when my 10 year old son asks questions about why God allows evil and disease, etc. She want me to support our kids attending bible sunday school, etc. I've been asked by her christian friends to attend a bible study class with her when our kids are in Sunday School.

I know the bible better than any of them. I've studied it daily for 20 years, was an ordained deacon, studied various confessions of faith, ready the best modern theologians and historians of christian antiquity and know sitting through a bible study each week with my wife would be difficult for me to get through without asking questions to stump the teachers, etc. All which would embarrass my wife and put my marriage in jeopardy. Yet, I love my wife for many other reasons unrelated to religion and want to be the best husband and father to my kids.

She says the principal reason she want them to be raised christian is that kids in our area that are not religious are statistically prone to more drugs and alcohol problems than the churched ones are. She is correct locally. She is close minded about national and international statistics that suggest atheists actually have less criminal issues then religious.

She also stated she wished we as a family could do church things together.

I love her and the kids, I have no doubt that my kids, due to their intellect, the internet and our moderate to liberal views, will end up at least agnostic by their teenage years on their own even with her indoctrination into christianity. I still feel bad about it all. I don't want to do them any harm by forcing them into christianity, nor by raising them secular as a single parent if my wife would divorce me over this.

I'm interested in input from others who have had similar experience.

Best, M.
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10-09-2013, 12:55 PM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
tl;dr

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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10-09-2013, 12:57 PM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
Hey Capt!

There are few things more frustrating than knowing the bible better than the people who want to lecture you about it, and their constantly applying it to you but then not allowing you to debate it with them. I have lived this as well and it is incredibly frustrating.

That said - once your kids are into college and the "need" for the religion to keep them out of drugs abates, I think your wife will come around. Especially if you continue to be loving and honest, communicate openly and have respect for her views as well.

Also, I would make the point that children who have parent's who genuinely are interested in them as people and who are encouraged to be the best they can be (but not pressured) are the ones who stay out of drugs. Sports don't hurt, either. IMHO.

Best of luck...

EDIT: Oh and about your Pastor, what do you expect, right? His LIVING is based on how many people he can get to attend, and the christians I have known have never been too good to use emotional manipulations to "bring you back to the fold." Luckily for you, he's got nothing on your honest disbelief.

Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're an incredible slouch.

Martin Luther was the "father" of two movements - The Reformation and Nazism.
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10-09-2013, 01:00 PM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
I read the part wich didnt include the letter.
Hug
my suggestion is to talk things out. Dont make arguments against her religion,it will put her in defence.
Try to make compromises. Like he will learn about all religions and no religion or atheism will be forced upon them. Seth did a couple of great podcasts about it.

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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10-09-2013, 03:04 PM (This post was last modified: 10-09-2013 03:07 PM by I Am.)
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
(10-09-2013 12:17 PM)CaptKram1963 Wrote:  When I finished reading this letter, I was amazed at his boldness, I laughed at his portrayal of "God" as a loving father and then suggest He would endanger the lives of my wife and children due to my lack of faithfulness. That last part made me very angry to this day.

Well, yeah. That's very manipulative. He wants to instill fear now, and regret later, when something bad does inevitably happen (or nearly happen) to some member of your family. No family goes through life without anything bad ever happening. This pastor blaming a future, unknown event on your thoughts now is the same tactic as Pat Robertson saying God will punish the country for gay marriage, and then waiting for a natural disaster to "prove" his claim.

Quote:She says the principal reason she want them to be raised christian is that kids in our area that are not religious are statistically prone to more drugs and alcohol problems than the churched ones are. She is correct locally. She is close minded about national and international statistics that suggest atheists actually have less criminal issues then religious.

Statistics aren't deterministic. I wish it worked that way, but it doesn't. An unrelated example: Rich people are statistically more likely to vote Republican in the US. A middle or lower class voter wants to get rich, so s/he votes Republican and... stays poor. I'm not dissing anyone's politics, just saying that trying to steer future outcomes by past statistics is an iffy-at-best practice. The best tool for keeping booze out of your kids' hands is direct, personal involvement with your kids... and as far as that goes, going to church with them is an okay way to be involved. So is going to a ball game, or a city council meeting, or a shrink.

Quote:She also stated she wished we as a family could do church things together.

Well... that's actually not terrible. Try to look at it like a fan club, based on a fandom you don't share anymore. Every time someone says "Jesus," replace it in your head with "Captain Kirk" or "Harry Potter." The results can be entertaining.

Quote:I love her and the kids, I have no doubt that my kids... will end up at least agnostic by their teenage years on their own even with her indoctrination into christianity. I still feel bad about it all. I don't want to do them any harm by forcing them into christianity,
You aren't forcing anything, you will be helping them. Going to church as a blind follower afraid to question is a recipe for infection, but going with the help of critical thinking and guidance in questioning can be an inoculation.

Quote:nor by raising them secular as a single parent if my wife would divorce me over this.

This really would hurt them, so don't let it happen. Also don't let her keep you from answering your kids' questions honestly. It's okay for you and she to give different answers, and even talk about the differences together. That will teach them, not harm them.

My wife is a very liberal church-goer. Her version of God/Jesus is "The connection that love can bring between all people." My stepdaughter attends with her, less now than when she was younger. She's even gone to scripture study classes. And, she's an agnostic. I attend a few times a year, and also take some scripture study every now and then.

You don't have to reject the good things that a church can bring, like family time and social connections, in order to reject the goofy stuff the priest/pastor talks about.

Sorry you're having a hard time. Fears about relationships ending are really rough, like waiting for a stroke you think you might get. I think you and your family will be okay, though. Hugs help.
Hug

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10-09-2013, 03:13 PM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
May I suggest that this thread be moved to the atheism and the family section? If we start collecting all these threads there, it would be easy for posters to draw from each other's experiences.


Sorry for the interruption, back to the program.....

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10-09-2013, 03:21 PM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
Yikes! I think you know you have a rough road ahead of you. I wish you peace and wisdom.

That was quite a letter from your pastor.
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13-09-2013, 08:31 AM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
(10-09-2013 12:17 PM)CaptKram1963 Wrote:  My former pastor and theologian friend both tried to deter me from my evolution from being a former ordained deacon and lectionary reader to my present status as an atheist which took months. In his last email, he stated and I quote:

"I have missed you and your family in worship. XXXXXX (my wife) was here with XXXXXX (my daughter) several Sundays ago, but otherwise, I have missed you all.

Your absence has stirred me to pray even more for you, although I have been doing so regularly over these past many days. You are never far from my thoughts.

In my time with the Lord, His Holy Spirit seems to be giving me a particular word about you. It's the word "love."

Love will be the way you will return to the Lord your God, if that return is to be.

When I knew you before, that is, before your healing from addictions and depression, you loved God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You loved God deeply. Your love for Him was obvious, genuine, and inspiring. At the same time, however, you did not love yourself. You hated yourself, if that's not too strong a word for the brokenness you recognized in yourself and your loathing over it. You loved God and hated yourself. That was how I once knew you.

As I know you now, that is, in this period after your healing, as you have emerged from the fog a new man, you now love yourself. You love yourself deeply now, it appears. Your smile shines in your self-portraits. You love playing tennis and being active again. You love your renewed marriage and family life. You love being you. At this same time, however, you do not love God any longer. In fact, you hate God, if that's not too strong a word for the loathing and ridicule I hear and sense from you in all things related to Christ, faith, and so forth. You now love yourself and hate God. This is how I now know you.

But neither is the way of the Lord for you or anyone. Jesus commands us to love God and to love our neighbor as oneself. The way of the Lord then is not a hate/love or a love/hate scenario; it is always love/love. That is to say, true healing and eternal well-being flow only from a heart that both loves Christ and loves oneself in Christ, filled and sustained by His goodness and salvation and forgiveness and love.

Now that you have been healed by the work of the Holy Spirit, it grieves me that your love for God has turned to hate and rejection. The Lord loves you so much! Even now--perhaps especially now, God is your Waiting Father watching for your return as His prodigal son.

Why do you need someone to hate?

When the time comes, that you love both God and yourself, you will finally be home, fully and completely. I pray for that day, soon and very soon.

PS As I consider your family, Mark, please remember that your faithfulness or the lack of it affects your wife, son, and daughter so personally and spiritually. The thought that your family would be led away from Christ by your own compromised spiritual state saddens me very much. So many lives are at stake here, not one but four precious lives in the eyes of God. Know of my prayers for you all."

When I finished reading this letter, I was amazed at his boldness, I laughed at his portrayal of "God" as a loving father and then suggest He would endanger the lives of my wife and children due to my lack of faithfulness. That last part made me very angry to this day.

Despite this, for my wife's sake we left that church and joined a very liberal christian church. My wife is a christian but never reads the bible and has become irate when I point out it's irrational and amoral scriptures. She believes that I am a hypocrite as I used to be a very conservative bible thumping christian and now am an atheist. She said when I voice my atheism to her privately that she doesn't want to be around me. She did say, she was 'ok' with my unbelief as long as it doesn't affect raising our children in the christian faith. She likes it when I attend church with them as a family. She doesn't want me ever to role my eyes anymore when my 10 year old son asks questions about why God allows evil and disease, etc. She want me to support our kids attending bible sunday school, etc. I've been asked by her christian friends to attend a bible study class with her when our kids are in Sunday School.

I know the bible better than any of them. I've studied it daily for 20 years, was an ordained deacon, studied various confessions of faith, ready the best modern theologians and historians of christian antiquity and know sitting through a bible study each week with my wife would be difficult for me to get through without asking questions to stump the teachers, etc. All which would embarrass my wife and put my marriage in jeopardy. Yet, I love my wife for many other reasons unrelated to religion and want to be the best husband and father to my kids.

She says the principal reason she want them to be raised christian is that kids in our area that are not religious are statistically prone to more drugs and alcohol problems than the churched ones are. She is correct locally. She is close minded about national and international statistics that suggest atheists actually have less criminal issues then religious.

She also stated she wished we as a family could do church things together.

I love her and the kids, I have no doubt that my kids, due to their intellect, the internet and our moderate to liberal views, will end up at least agnostic by their teenage years on their own even with her indoctrination into christianity. I still feel bad about it all. I don't want to do them any harm by forcing them into christianity, nor by raising them secular as a single parent if my wife would divorce me over this.

I'm interested in input from others who have had similar experience.

Best, M.


I skimmed this a bit.

Pastor seems like a real self righteous dick.

I would tell him to shove it where it belongs...right in the pulpit.

The harm would be allowing your family to go back and hear this mans words.
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13-09-2013, 09:00 AM
Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
I wonder if your pastor even read his own words. Religion seemed to coincide with your own self-loathing and release from religion seems to coincide with you being mentally healthy again and being at peace.
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13-09-2013, 09:49 AM
RE: Pastor's Warning to Me & Family
Christian Love ™

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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