Jump to content

Un-witnessing?


Shawna
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,

 

I've been a lurker on the main website, reading articles and testimonies, and have only recently discovered the message board. :-) I'm glad to have a place where I can ask questions and read about how other ex-christians are dealing with their decision and the changes in their lives. So, here is my first question, and, honestly, the reason why I joined this forum.

 

I'm 21 years old and have been living on my own since I was 18 (if going to college counts for that ^_^). My parent's house is an extremely christian-saturated environment. They are part of the Vineyard church organization and are insane (if any of you know of it, you'll get what I mean). I am more than happy to be away from there, but have left behind someone very important to me: my little sister.

 

She's 12 years old and is living the life I was happy to eventually escape. My parents impose their religious views on her daily, telling her what books she can read or movies she can see, and what to believe about god and the world. When I stopped being christian, this became extremely apparent to me (I guess seeing from the outside helped). They'll sit her between them and tag team her on what their views are and why her views should be the same. Needless to say, she is heavily indoctrinated, and I worry constantly about her. She is so smart, but they are keeping her completely controlled, especially since I stopped believing what they do. They don't want to make the same "mistakes" that they made with me, so they keep her in private school and I am barely ever able to talk to her alone (I think my mom listens in on our phone conversations).

 

Anyway, when we do get a chance to talk, sometimes we end up talking about our beliefs. I told her from the beginning that it's ok that we don't believe the same thing, and that I may not agree with her but I'm not going to foist my views on her and I respect her opinion. I don't want to be like my parents, manipulating her into believing what I do (or don't...). My sister knows that I'm not a christian, and she feels super upset that I'm going to die and go to hell and thinks it's her fault. I've been trying to tell her that her only job is to live her life the way she thinks is right, and that my soul is not her responsibility. That I, like she, can make my own decisions and can take responsibility for my own actions. We had a really productive conversation, but I know that this will come into discussion again.

 

So, my question is, how do I talk to her about my beliefs when hers are so radically opposed? She's pretty open-minded doesn't try to debate with me or convert me, but she's really young mentally and doesn't really know how to stand up for herself. I don't want to be manipulative or cause her confusion and harm, but if she asks me something or says something that I strongly disagree with, I don't know how to talk to her about it. She doesn't see how my parents are constantly manipulating her, and I don't want her to go through the struggle I had to go through when I finally got the guts to stand up to them. How do I talk to her and not be like my parents?

 

Sorry, I know this is really long... Thanks,

 

Shawna

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest pineapple

You don't have to tell her what's right to believe. Instead, kindly ask her questions about these statements that provoke critical thinking. At no point do you have to force anything down her throat like your parents do, just help her to turn her brain on. When the topic of your beliefs does come up be very aware of your tone of voice. Be calm and patient. Begin your statements with "Personally, I think..." or "I feel..." that can make the conversation a less aggressive and she'll be a lot more likely to listen to your point of view rather than get defensive and feel like you're trying to pull her away from God or your parents.

 

It sounds like you're doing a great job of being an understanding big sister so far. If she can look up to you and feel like you're and understanding adult she can confide in, that's huge. Good luck!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Encourage her to seek the answers to her questions instead of focusing on "anti-preaching". The difference between that, and the example of the parents trying to stifle and control thought will speak loud and clear to your smart sister. Smart people don't like having their intellect crushed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

If you figured it out, your sister probably will too.

 

I consider that heavy indoctrination a form of child abuse, but the smart kids eventually see through it without much help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I know this is really long... Thanks,

Long? Then you haven't seen me, or Antlerman, or a couple of others on the good days. Then we're talking about looooooo......oooooo..oooong. :grin:

 

Anywho, welcome. :wave:

 

And I agree with the other posts, teach her to think critical and rational. That's the best tool for anyone. After all, that's what everyone got in the end, if you remove everything else, their own minds. Religion tends to remove thinking-skills, and replace it with dogma. "You ought to do this," instead of answering the "why" question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for your encouragement. My sister is so special to me, I just want things to go easier for her. I've struggled with finding my own beliefs and not swallowing everything I'm handed without examination, and I want her to find her beliefs without all the confusion, pain, and conflict that went along with mine. But, I'll keep trying to just be an open source for her, so that she'll know that she can trust and talk to me about whatever she needs to. I feel a lot better about this. :-)

 

Shawna

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shawna,

I agreee with everyone here. You are doing a great job just listening and being there for her. The love you show here will go a long way in the future when she needs someone to turn to.

Keep it up! She's lucky she has you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My younger sis is in a similar situation, I left the fold and my folks cracked down (but luckily now she is in college). I have to agree with everyone else before, be there and be a supportive and loving sounding board. And encourage her to read the Bible, just the unadulterated word with no consultations with pastors over discrepancies that arise, devotionals or apologetics and see what she gets out of it. If anything, right now she's being open to different views of looking at the world, which is a sound first step.

 

And don't worry to much about "Un-witnessing", right now your sister needs human beings, not automatons spewing dogma ;).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 nieces and nephews being rased in fundamentalist household. . .I feel your pain. Rational discussion with lots of questions seems to be the way to go. Good luck with your sis! Wishing her (and you) all the best

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a kind of opposite predicament. I have an older sister who is really fundamentalist (as she was taught to be). She met her husband on a missions trip in Asia and he is the son of two preachers. She wants to give her life to missions. I love my sister very much. We have always been extremely close and all I want for her is happiness. I see how Christianity has abused her as it did me, and how her self-esteem suffers so much. But I really don't think she could emotionally handle de-conversion and it would rock her whole world so bad because of who she's married to and all... I don't think I could convince her to de-convert anyway, but I feel highly cautious of doing or saying anything to shake her faith. I don't believe a bit of Christianity...but I guess I just think she's better off plugged into the matrix. She knows I'm an Atheist but we don't talk about it. I tried to talk to her about it once and she ran away from the conversation. I do feel a bit selfish because I think it's so great having my mind freed...but anyway I don't plan to talk to her about religion unless she brings it up and just wants to have an open and honest dialogue where no one feels on the defense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.