You know what really grinds my gears?
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16-08-2010, 10:46 PM (This post was last modified: 17-08-2010 02:33 AM by ebilekittae.)
You know what really grinds my gears?
Sorry for the entirely cliché subject line, but it's a pretty good summation of the content of my post.

I very recently (six days ago, not even a full week) came out to my Conservative Fundamentalist Reformed Southern Baptist (what a title) family about being an atheist, and (while possibly a bad choice) being a homosexual while I was at it. I chose to do this on Facebook for the impersonality of it, knowing that my family's reaction would be less than... encouraging. While no harm came unto me physically (I'm actually studying abroad on the opposite side of the world from my family), I was immediately jumped on by both my father and my brother.

Now, to shed a bit of light on all of this, I, myself, had been a CFRSB (the abbreviation is much easier to type indeed) until December 30, 2009. This was relatively recently, but far enough away that I know well enough (enough, not entirely, but enough) what I'm talking about, not to mention the more than a half a year (since the end of May to the beginning of June of 2009 range) of silently doubting and observing. My family (especially my father) is DEEP into Christian apologetics, so I've heard them all. Still, I doubted and researched and I found the apologetics to be outright WRONG or at the very least misguided and undereducated about evolutionary biology, geology, and astronomy. The point here is, this was a very slow and careful process I'd gone through with no emotional "I HATE YOU GOD!!!" phase involved (although those can often spur someone to look for the truth).

Anyway, my dad sends me an e-mail of course denying that I'm a homosexual on the basis that I have a penis (no joke) and claims that all homosexuals (now including me) go to atheism because they hate god for not letting them play in their sin.

One more note here: I rejected the Christian faith on December 30, 2009. More than half a year later (early this month) I finally accepted myself as a homosexual after six years of suppressing it with fear of hell and later rejection. It really could not be said that my homosexuality had a strong (I would say any, but that's quite an assertion) influence by any means on my choice to become an atheist.

Still, however, my father continued his e-mail with the words of the prophets Ray Comfort and Ravi Zacharias and finally completely false statistics about homosexuality apparently gathered from conservapedia.com.

I replied to my dad in a calm and respectful way (not just saying that--he's my dad and I love him through his misguidedness and even appreciate his taken action to save his son from what he believes is the worst punishment that could befall anyone) and haven't heard from him since.

My brother, however, was filled with hellfire. He and I were actually VERY close before I let it out, so I was incredibly surprised when he accused me of being an entirely different person from the best friend he knew, and that I killed that best friend, much like Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker [/spoiler?] {analogy mine, pardon the dorkiness}. I saw myself as exactly the same person, only liberated from having to hide what I actually believed from the people I loved the most.

This evolved into an argument that has lasted since then, and has literally filled up all of my days with nearly nothing but research (which was actually quite beneficial, as now I know much more than I knew before about how our wonderful natural world works).

In the beginning we both provided calm, concise arguments and we saw that it was good. And the morning and the evening was the first day.

On the second day, rebuttals to arguments flew from both sides, still in a relatively orderly manner, but I apparently forgot how to be reverent. I apologized and we saw that it was good. The morning and the evening was the second day.

On the third day things escalated, and my brother refused to look at godisimaginary.com due to the fact the arguments were "too easy". My frustration was heightened and I again forgot how to be reverent. I didn't see how I was irreverent, and we saw that things weren't quite so good. And the morning and the evening were the third day.

On the fourth day, my brother read the site. I received no reply and was relieved. I anticipated several rebuttals he might make and I spent the entire day doing nothing but research (and eating uncooked ramen to save time). The morning and the evening and more of the evening was studying. I mean the fourth day.

On the fifth day I received a lengthy reply with rebuttals to all fifty proofs of godisimaginary.com, with plenty of irreverence towards my beliefs thrown in this time. I had a good-natured laugh at the evened score and said it was cool and offered a quarter of a reply. I had, unfortunately, not had the foresight to think that overstudying the day before would limit my ability to write coherently on the following day. I apologized and promised to write a better reply, addressing all of his points the next day, but I needed a day off to not die. And the morning and the evening was the fifth day.

On the sixth day, I received a reply from my brother in which nearly every one of his rebuttals ended with "well that's just stupid". Knowing my brother is an educated guy, this enraged me at his dismissive behaviour towards what took me hours on end to research. I went to cool off by blowing a chunk in my shiny new paycheck before replying and returned to find my brother having said that he had an emotional breakdown from the stress of this and couldn't continue, and he apologized, and I was furious. And the morning was the morning of the sixth day.

And this is the afternoon.

I'm not mad at my brother. Well, not MOSTLY mad at my brother. I'm still angry that he was so dismissive, but there's a stronger anger 'm feeling now.

I never hated God and Christianity until today.

I thought "Yeah, it's wrong, but who cares? I was a fundy forever and I never wanted to kill anyone for my beliefs."

My brother? He replied to me asking "If such an atrocity [the slaughter in Numbers 31] happened today by the hands of Christians, would you be so dismissive with your 'They had it coming' attitude?" with "If I knew it was ordained by God, then yes I would."

I never thought it could be so dangerous. And then in this most recent e-mail to me he was telling ME about how dangerous ATHEISM is since "you can go out and kill everyone you want if that makes you happy since you have no standard to live by." I know this argument has already been shot down countless times and has no weight, but to hear my BROTHER saying that after saying he would feel NO anger towards a slaughter of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people if he thought it was cool with God...

That's what really grinds my gears.

And to think that THAT very God is what drove my brother from being my best friend to think of me as his spiritual ENEMY so much he refused to speak with me outside of debate and caused him to emotionally break down over the "loss" of me...

I'm wordless (though the wordiness of this post proves otherwise).

Has anything like this happened to you guys? Any advice you can give me? There was a time when I felt like giving up and pretending like I was a Christian again, but I couldn't be farther from that now. I feel like freaking desecrating some churches (obviously I won't). Just what the hell? You know? If ONLY he would stop rationalizing and SEE! Any advice at all?

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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17-08-2010, 02:20 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Welcome to the forum. I want to start spewing words of comfort and reassurance. Instead, I think your post, an honest and revealing one, deserves more thought. I'm going to give it just that, and reply tomorrow instead.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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17-08-2010, 02:29 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Thank you for your welcome and your later thoughtful input. While words of comfort would definitely be reassuring, even if chastisement at some mistake I made would somehow make this better, I'm all for it. I look forward to your post and thanks again for the welcome.

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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17-08-2010, 05:05 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Levi

I've never been through anything like what you're experiencing, but I don't come from a fundamentalist religious background. I was raised Jewish and the closest I've come to this is my sister is upset that I've seemed to "turn my back on my cultural origins". We disagree on the topic but she's still my sister and her and her family are still part of not only my life but the life of my wife and my two sons.

I do, however, know quite a few gay people. Until recently, my wife and I lived in a very gay friendly community just outside of NYC and we had a lot of friends who were gay and lesbian. Based on their experience, I'm very sorry to say that I would not expect your relationship with your father or your brother to end well. Perhaps they will be the exceptions but generally when people believe something so fervently they will not see logic, or even what they are doing to themselves or their own children, and will reach intractable positions. Some of the people we know have becoming completely estranged from their families. Others have very strained relationships. I'm sure this is not exactly what you want to hear but I suspect you know it on some level.

My advice, for whatever it's worth, is to stop fighting this on a logical level because you're never going to win that fight. If you want to have a relationship with your father and your brother then I suggest you make the appeal on an emotional level. You are his son and you are his brother and you are the same basic person you've always been and you still love them. My guess is they are never going to fully accept your decision about God and your honesty about your sexuality (note I did not say "choice") but they may reach a point where you have some relationship with them. And, over time, they may soften in their views. If you fight this on an intellectual level, you're going to lose them both.

I wish you the best of luck. What you're going through is not easy. Keep in mind that you're not alone and there are others who have gone through what you are; perhaps not the exact circumstances but the basics of it. Seek them out and you will find a new group to help support you. Don't underestimate the value of human contact and validation by others.

Which brings me to my final point: don't ever lose sight of the fact that you've done nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of or to apologize for.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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17-08-2010, 05:49 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Thank you for your wisdom, BnW. Like I said in my post, it's not even been a week yet so I don't have a clear view of the direction this is really going, but from what I know of my family (especially my brother, but to a lesser level my father) they reject the idea of emotion bearing any weight in an argument. Still, I have no idea how it'll turn out until I try it, so I'll give it a shot. I certainly have nothing to lose.

My family is and has for as long as I can remember been in the opinion that the atheist and free-thinking society has been the overwhelming majority of people in the world and that Christians are regularly subject to persecution for their beliefs. While I won't say they're completely devoid of persecution (I doubt any people group is on some level) I would have to earnestly say I've received much more negativity after coming out than I ever have as a fundy (and I was once so deeply in it that I literally preached on top of a milk crate on the street corner in the busiest part of town (small town, though)).

I hope with everything I've got that somehow my family and I won't lose the connection we had. I know I don't have a chance to be as well-connected as I was before, but even just a thread inside would be acceptable. I have an older brother that was, well, quite rebellious, and has essentially been ostracized. I hope that doesn't turn out to be me as well--I love my family too much.

Anyway, thanks again. Before I came out, I literally knew only one other gay guy and we hadn't kept in touch well at all. On day two or three of this mess, I was wrecked from the stress of it and talking with him about it certainly helped. Hearing what I knew about my sexuality reinforced instead of being told over and over it's a pathway to hell and even if it wasn't that it was a pathway to misery for the rest of my life certainly let things go by with less tension. =P

I hope to have the same support for my atheism here. I've got to say even just listening to the podcasts (especially the "Mad as Hell" one) by TheThinkingAtheist here was really supportive.

Anyway again, cheers man!

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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17-08-2010, 07:52 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Hey Levi, welcome to the forum.

While I don't share your particular situation, and unfortunately I can't really offer much decent advice (though I think I pretty much agree with everything BnW said) I can offer some amount of camaraderie. I haven't really "come out" to my family yet about my atheism, save for my little brother, who was the first to admit that he "wasn't a Christian." But I have admitted my atheism to my wife, who was actually the catalyst for it.

Some time ago, my wife decided to start going back to church with our young kids, thinking for some reason that she needed to. She chalks it up to God calling her of course, I chalk it up to her religious upbringing relapsing on her, along with her never really looking into why she didn't follow the faith for years. Now she eats up apologetics, denounces science that doesn't agree with the Bible (which she doesn't seem to realize is pretty much all of it), goes to church 3 times a week, and helps teach a kids class. Similarly, she also goes to a Southern Baptist Church - though I'm not sure if it's the exact same as the type you're originally from.

Anyway, as she got more and more into it, I began to re-evaluate my own beliefs. I rarely defined myself as one thing or another, but I would jump around from Cultural Christian to Agnostic to vague Deist - though I always believed in a God of some sort, even one that was undefined. So anyway it all starts when she asks me to read Lee Strobel's The Case For Christ. Reading it, I thought some of the points were good, but some were not (not really being able to recognize why). So I googled "Case for Christ rebuttal" or something and off I went on a months-long study session of apologetics, counter-apologetics, and all sorts of stuff. For about a month I tried "Progressive Christianity" which is a very loose, liberal, vague, make-it-up-as-you-go type of thing. In the end I ended up becoming an atheist.

Our relationship has strained immensely since I began to openly criticize her religion (which I try to do from a debate/scholarly critical standpoint). I know how difficult it is though, because it's family and it always ends up getting emotional. I've lost my temper more times than I can count, and of course that looks bad on me and doesn't help my case when I'm trying to convince her of something. But she is in this thing DEEP, probably just like your family. She doesn't understand my point of view, she flat out denies that there's anything immoral in the Bible, and she doesn't believe that there are such things as atheists. Honestly, I don't know if we're going to make it.

My only advice is to do your absolute damnedest to remain calm. To steal some advice from the most recent episode of The Atheist Experience - keep in mind that they are the ones suffering from a deep ingrained delusion, not you. The religion makes them think that even considering your point of view seriously is a sin. I wish I knew how to break through that garbage - if somebody was selling a cure I'd mortgage my house if I had to and buy it in a heartbeat.

Congratulations on being honest (both with religion and sexual orientation) - it's both enthralling and terrifying, to say the least.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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17-08-2010, 08:39 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Thank you for sharing your own story, it really helps to be able to relate with someone. But I've got to say, it seems like you're in a much worse predicament than me! Indeed, she sounds just as deep in it as my family is, so I can definitely relate at least on that front, but wow, that sounds tough! I really hope everything works out for you. I know how this feels to me, I can't imagine what you must be going through.

Also, thank you for indirectly showing me The Atheist Experience. I'm in the middle of watching it now and it's a wonderful show! The advice is definitely something that I should keep in mind. I started to, but I have to admit that I lost sight of that towards the end. I suppose I even started seeing it as my brother willfully deceiving himself. I was wrong for seeing it as "My brother is deceiving himself" other than "My brother is being deceived", which is the point that really matters.

Tell me if you find that cure, man, I'll pitch in for half. =P Cheers!

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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17-08-2010, 09:05 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
Well well. Trust this group to say the words I can't find. I've been thinking for a while now about how to respond, in a way that would help you cope and to show that you have support. My friends above have done both, and said things better than I could. Thats something that you will quickly find about this group of people. We sometimes disagree (and even argue on occasion), we are a diverse group (all ages, backgrounds, lifestyles, ....), and we all recognize that atheism/agnostisism is our one common belief (and all the rest are as varying as any other aspect of ourselves), but one thing you can count on is that we will do our best to support one another. (There are a few misfits in the group you'll have to watch out for though. Unbeliever is nasty, and I suspect his real motive for being here is to recruit for his secret cult. Ghost is just scary, but mostly harmless since he'll agree with pretty much anything you say. There's others, but I'll let you figure them out on your own.)

Welcome again. Glad to have you with us.





.........now stop sending me private messages asking me to join your "family" in the Nevada dessert.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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17-08-2010, 09:17 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
I'm a big fan of The Atheist Experience. Matt Dillahunty in particular wows me every time with his knowledge of the Bible and ability to break down and deconstruct or criticize an argument, particularly one that is faulty. Also be sure to check out their sister program, The Non Prophets. It's a podcast hosted by the same organization and features some of the same co-hosts. Glad I could help a little. Smile

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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17-08-2010, 09:21 AM
RE: You know what really grinds my gears?
".........now stop sending me private messages asking me to join your "family" in the Nevada dessert."

What? lol!

Yeah, I'd definitely expect the demographics to be diverse, but that's typically something I can handle well. I've always been interested in learning more about diversity--working in the International department in my university, having literally only one American friend in my university but forming a tight-knit group with my international roommate and mutual friends, and even studying abroad now--so much so, in fact, that one of the main problems I had with the Bible was the slaughter of the different cultures for the sole purpose that they were different. I know you mean more diversity than just cultural or ethnic diversity, but I can even appreciate diversity in individuality (not to say certain people don't rub me the wrong way =P).

Anyway, one more thanks for the welcome (this is your last one =P). I appreciate your support, I'll make sure to return the favour in the future should you need it!

EDIT (to include a reply to TheSixthGlass):

Okay, thanks for telling me to check that out, I'll look for that right now! I joined the fan page of TAE and the Non Prophets on Facebook, but I didn't check out the Non Prophets further than that. I look forward to finding their stuff!

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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