Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
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25-06-2013, 09:48 PM
Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
Greetings, every one. Until my early 20's I was an evangelical christian. For the past 7 or so years I have been an atheist. Every member of my family is still christian (close family, uncles, aunts, cousins, very distant relatives, etc.) I have kept my apostasy a closely guarded secret from my family and most of my friends.

However, during year two of being an atheist I decided to take a risk and tell the most liberal christian member of my family (my sister) about my new-found lack of a belief in God. I figured if she can be cool with it, then perhaps there is hope that I can slowly tell the rest of my close family members. Upon hearing the news she became quite frantic and repeated over and over that I am going to Hell.

Threats of Hell don't upset me in the least, but that conversation convinced me that the other members of my family would react in a similar and likely worse manner. Even now, many years later, she still thinks I will be in some way eternally punished.

I pondered telling my family any ways just to relieve the stress of feigning to still be a christian. This, I realized, could lead to my demise since I have multiple, severe physical disabilities. Throughout my life my family has helped me to physically recover from extensive operations. Without their help I wouldn't be alive today and I may again need such assistance.

Often, my mother would say "God comes first, but you guys (my sister and I) are a close second." She kept her word too when she refused to help my sister in any minor way, shape or form upon discovering that my sister (who is also an adult) was living with her boyfriend.

I live far away from my family now, but I recently returned home for a few weeks to visit every one. This trip made me realize, however, that my family's love for me is contingent upon me being christian. If my family found out that I am an atheist, I would no longer be "allowed" to speak with my younger cousins, I wouldn't be welcome at family gatherings, and my parents would practice "tough love". I really do think they would allow me to quite nearly die if they thought I might therefor return to Christ. After all, it is written that:

"... It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
Matthew 5:30

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26

God comes first, every one else comes second.
Thus, the question arose in my mind - do "I" have a family any longer? They love the old me, yes, but they would hate the person I am today. It seems clear to me now that I only have the illusion of a family because they assume I am still a christian.

I have now decided to form a new family of sorts. Often, I have heard members of the LGBTQ community say this, but the brevity of it didn't dawn on me until recently. Has any one else here found themselves in a similar situation?
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26-06-2013, 12:14 AM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
Herp, I don't know. Yours is a good one. I would say, though, that whatever happens they need to be reminded that for the last seven years you have been both yourself, whom they have loved, and also atheist. Ask them to decide how love works in the eyes of god.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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26-06-2013, 12:49 AM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
I wouldn't give up on them right away. How important is it to you to tell them ?

It's a tough situation anyway. But yeah... God is Love always seems to translate into Love is Attempting To Force You to Pretend To Believe as I do and Act as I Think You Should Act... I really do wonder how the Christees resolve the dissonance - I guess by ignoring it...
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26-06-2013, 10:49 PM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
Friends are the family you get to pick.

have you watched the show on MTV called Catfish? it reminds me of your situation. You are one person and everyone else thinks you are someone else.

On one hand you risk losing all of your loved ones

on the other

you risk never being true to yourself and never being true to them either.

its a very tough decision.

I would reassess all the family members. Sometimes a brother or sister in law (aunt/uncle) that wasn't raised with your parents can temper things and play the mediator role and keep things sane. In many families the parents set strict rules, then their children become adults and still follow 'the rules' but after the parents die, everyone relaxes now that the dictator is gone. Sometimes it takes one child to be the rebel for the others to find the bravery to stand up to the parents and live by their own set of rules.

Sometimes you realize that real love is unconditional, some people understand that, some people never do.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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27-06-2013, 08:36 AM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
Those who reject you are not your family; those who accept you are. Drinking Beverage

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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27-06-2013, 12:03 PM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
(26-06-2013 10:49 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  Friends are the family you get to pick.

This says all that there is to say. You're born without choice, and friends are the actual family you get to decide for yourself upon. You were randomized into the committee of the religiously strict, and it's a shame you can't even feel accepted because they don't even know who you are. And they may not. Acceptance is something I could make a tirade about, because the concept of acceptance could be used in almost any conceivable situation.

Let me go on a wing and say what good does religion do, if you'd choose an idol over your own son/daughter? You'd put forth a figure before your own child and blood? How could one live their life hating their own child, simply because their child experienced a change in beliefs?

Das messed up.
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27-06-2013, 12:14 PM
RE: Re-evaluating my definition of "family"
I don't understand how making love conditional still qualifies it as love. You're in quite the spot as it were. You have to figure out what is best for you in both the short term and the long term, but which one gets a greater emphasis.

A lot of us here have our stories as to the family members that reacted well and those who didn't. Those who started speaking to us again, and those that haven't. Those who speak to us but still reserve the right to treat us as though they have some insight into our views on religion we don't. Those who speak in preachy terms more than familial ones.

If you tell them, you are sure to have at least a few surprising reactions among them. Given the state of evangelism, more than likely most will be negative. But some may prove (in the long run) to be positive. Most of my family didn't react well, but fast forward to the present and my dad is reading Hitchens Thumbsup Although he didn't react poorly to begin with and is more open-minded than the vast majority of my family (my dad's side in general is too).
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