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Sister Dilemma


godkiller
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I officially deconverted in January, 2013 after a years-long intellectual/spiritual quest. My Southern Baptist family doesn't know I'm an atheist yet, but they are aware that I have become more "liberal" than they are. I was always kind of a renegade at church--I couldn't just sit there and accept things at church that I felt were wrong (shunning people, LGTBQ discrimination, etc.). I always questioned and explored everything, which is thankfully how I wound up content as an atheist, and married to one as well. Despite my family being fairly open for Southern Baptists, accepting many different types of people (they adore my husband), not preaching at them, etc., I still haven't come out to them. I've been patiently waiting for my comfort level to catch up with my sense of personal honesty. I haven't been worried about it or feeling rushed, until...

 

Over the past few months my younger sister seems to be spiraling into superChristian madness. This is my sister, in a nutshell: struggling with depression most of her life, almost completely unambitious, has social anxiety, has worked the same crap job for a decade, lives at home and is nearly 30, is protected and coddled by my parents because I suspect they feel sorry for her (she has always had trouble making friends, was suicidal in her teens, she's the youngest child, etc). So a few months ago, she got off her meds and, unsurprisingly, got really depressed. I remember talking with her about it and she said she was going to have to do something because she couldn't live with that level of depression anymore. What was her solution? She started going to her boyfriend's church with him on Sundays. What started as church on Sundays turned into:

 

  • sending me Bible verses via SMS, which shows up on my phone as multiple text messages, sometimes up to 5 at once
  • a sudden fascination with spiritual gifts, including taking the "test" and determining she has the gift of "discernment"
  • a new obsession with spotting evil beings ("demons") practically everywhere she goes--because she believes she has the "gift of discernment", she seems to fully believe she's seeing representations of some evil forces
  • researching websites/apps/online services she uses to see if they are "evil" and, if they are, she stops using the service or switches to another one that isn't "demonic". Example: she researched Google (perhaps using Google? lol) and decided their privacy settings are evil, so she switched her blog to WordPress because somehow it's more safe
  • told me she stopped watching TV or playing video games because God told her to
  • investigated the church she was attending with her boyfriend and concluding it's a cult (can't say I was disappointed about that one, since *cough*allchurchesarecults*cough*)
  • this month she started a blog where she rambles about her observations of and experiences with demonic entities

Perhaps you see my dilemma already. While I applaud her for some of her investigative instincts (that's how I wound up deconverting, after all), I'm becoming genuinely worried about her. From her blog posts, it seems pretty clear that she's either obsessed or borderline obsessed with "spiritual forces". A loud crash noise outside the family house last week convinced her something spiritual was happening! I mean, come on! My mom even told her it was probably a squirrel on the roof, but my sleuth sister didn't discover anything when she scoped it out. (Obvious conclusion: demons!) I know it's obvious that she's replacing her poor self-esteem, lack of ambition, and sense of purpose with superChristian devotion. While she has been a Christian since she was a kid, she has never even remotely had this level of interest in it or let it take over her life like this. 

 

I don't like feeling as if I'm leading her on by not telling her I'm an atheist, since she seems to pour her Christianese out to me any chance she gets. It's nearly all she talks to me about now, and the text message Bible verses are really driving me crazy. Should I come clean with her? The obvious fallout is that she will tell my parents, since she lives with them and that's how they are. A big part of me wants to be out, a small part of me is still hesitant, but really I am just worried about my sister's descent into crazytown. 

 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading about my plight! I will appreciate any wise advice you folks can offer me.

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Maybe just ask her to chill with the Word. Since you already are aware of Jesus maybe your sis could spread the word to someone else who isnt....:)

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I had two friends in college that separately decided that they wanted to "go for God". They were each basically average believers with common feelings of failing god, and had gotten sucked in by Charismatic believers. One was in Maranatha, the other just in a loose group of Charismatics. The pressure in Maranatha for perfection of even one's thoughts drove the first guy into a manic state where he stopped sleeping and announced that he no longer needed sleep because the spirit of god was sustaining him. He would make bold proclamations of how god was going to use him to win North Korea to Jesus. He'd would misquote a scripture, and I'd correct him, and he'd get angry about "who cares about the details" because it didn't fit into his manic concept of how perfect god had made him. About a month later, a friend had him committed. They forcibly administered tranquilizers to him and he kept on being manic for quite some time before finally crashing and sleeping for days.

 

The other friend decided to take part in a marathon prayer session where he was absolutely intent that he experience god. *SNAP* He experienced something and was so excited that he stopped sleeping (sound familiar?) and began preaching to everyone. He was just certain that god was speaking through him that he wouldn't hear anything to the contrary. He went on like this for weeks and finally crashed on his own. This brought tons of guilt because he now felt he had offended god who had clearly left him. What really happened was that he went into a manic state until his body could no longer function and then crashed.

 

My former pastor's wife also went through something like this, and I've described it in other postings. She became really arrogant about her musical abilities and would make up songs on the fly that were rambling and without melody. Her husband finally had to intervene in one evening service because she was acting so oddly. This was around the time that "spiritual warfare" became popular (late 80s). One night she said she saw Satan and announced to him that she could "take him" (in a fight) because she had Jesus. Her mind snapped, she drove up on a mountain and killed the family dog as a sacrifice to Satan, drove back and her husband had to deal with her. Some "experts" taught him that this was spiritual warfare, and so we had a few years of indoctrination and teaching about that, along with early morning prayer walks around the city binding demons. I think she was treated by actual medical doctors and got on lithium to even out the manic-depressive swings of emotion.

 

All this to say that your sister is following a similar mental-illness path, and because the church people she is around encourage such views, she is unlikely to get help. She feels realllllllly alive now, and just sure that she's a warrior for Jesus, and is uncovering secret darkness and binding it with spiritual weapons. None of it exists, of course. She may experience a crash, but if those around her interpret it as an attack or as sin in her life, it will just continue in a cycle. If she never goes to an extreme, she may spend years like this blending in with similar believers, who may even look up to her "abilities".

 

I doubt that coming out to her would be helpful. She'd interpret it as a spiritual attack likely due to sin in your life or hidden things in your home, any crack at all in the spiritual armor she expects you to have, so she can blame something for your change. There is no reasoning with someone in this state of mind. You may want to talk with a non-Christian mental health professional to get tips about dealing with her.

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