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When someone you love doesn't believe
How do you respond?


66 replies to this topic

#1 snortle

Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:39 PM

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I would love some opinions

My dear dear sister and I are extremely close. I am a Christian and she is an atheist.
I think she actually HATES that I believe in God.
She will often criticise me about my beliefs if I mention anything remotely religious (rarely) and has said to me many times that she can't understand how an intelligent woman like myself can believe in a magical man in the sky and other things along those lines.

I have never ever preached to her, I am tolerant and respectful of anyone's choice of religion as I didn't find my faith until I did some soul searching at 18. So I can hardly judge others if I didn't believe once IYKWIM

I love my sister dearly and in every other aspect of life she is the most supportive and non-judgemental person I know but my strong faith is like a stick in her craw and she can't bear it!

I guess I have a few questions someone can hopefully answer...
1) What do you do if you are in this situation? What should I do?
2) as a Christian am I obliged to be doing something about her feelings towards God? Her best friend committed suicide many years ago and she lost all her faith then and is still very bitter about the idea that there is a god out there that would allow such things. I have tried to talk to her about this but it's difficult to do without her feeling that i am being insensitive about her late friend.
I would love for her to find faith but I don't feel I have any right to put my ideas onto anyone else yet she feels it's ok to try and make me see "sense" and realise I am wrong??

Any comments are appreciated xxxx

Edited by snortle, 06 May 2013 - 11:08 AM.


#2 schoolmum

Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:49 PM

The best thing you can do is just be her sister, support, love and pray for her. She is obviously very confused and hurt at the moment, and in need of someone to blame, and at this point of time it is God.

Your sister knows what you beliefs are, and no amount of talking is going to get her to change her mind. All you can do is to continue to love her as Christ does, and live your life as a true Christian example.

When she does challenge your beliefs, often the best thing you can do is let her vent, and try to agree to disagree.

Only time can heal the hurts that have led her to turn away from her faith, and at the moment you are a constant, and an easy target. You are someone that she can trust, and can vent to. So hang in there and remain strong in your beliefs, and be strong for her too, and continue to pray for her and your relationship.


#3 HurryUpAlready

Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:57 PM

OP, if anyone tried to preach to me about God / religion, especially my sister, I cannot tell you how fast I would close the door / hang up the phone / find an excuse to leave.

I vaguely believe, but only kinda sorta. But the second someone tries to shove their opinion down my throat I will resent it immediately.

Just be her sister. You're more likely to retain a relationship with her if she's anything like me.



#4 mini mac

Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:02 AM

QUOTE (schoolmum @ 15/12/2012, 09:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The best thing you can do is just be her sister, support,

Your sister knows what you beliefs are, and no amount of talking is going to get her to change her mind.


This. Don't push your religious beliefs on her and respect your differences, she wont change unless she wants to.

Be there as a sister, friend and confidante minus the religious verse.

QUOTE (HurryUpAlready @ 15/12/2012, 09:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
OP, if anyone tried to preach to me about God / religion, especially my sister, I cannot tell you how fast I would close the door / hang up the phone / find an excuse to leave.

I vaguely believe, but only kinda sorta. But the second someone tries to shove their opinion down my throat I will resent it immediately.

Just be her sister. You're more likely to retain a relationship with her if she's anything like me.

Exactly

#5 fancie

Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:08 AM

QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
She will often criticise me about my beliefs if I mention anything remotely religious (rarely)

1) What do you do if you are in this situation? What should I do?


do not mention anything remotely religious if you know how she will respond.  I think that you mentioning these things is as challenging to her lack of beliefs as her responses are to you about your beliefs.


QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
2)  as a Christian am I obliged to be doing something about her feelings towards God?


I think if you want to continue any sort of relationship with your sister, you shouldn't go anywhere near this line of thinking.  Her lack of faith is every bit as valid as your faith and to be honest with you OP, to try to influence her around to your way is patronising and arrogant.

QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 11:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would love for her to find faith but I don't feel I have any right to put my ideas onto anyone else yet she feels it's ok to try and make me see "sense" and realise I am wrong??


No you do not have the right to put your ideas onto anyone else.  I think your sister sees you introducing anything religious in conversation with her as you attempting to put your ideas onto her and that's why she responds as she does.






#6 Lyn29

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:23 AM

I agree with the PPs - leave it.

I am the non-believer. My non-belief is as strong as anyone's belief. The more someone says to me, "But how can you not see that there is a God?" the more I feel, "How can you not see there isn't?" So as much as you believe and feel some distress that your beloved sister doesn't, she may well be feeling the same distress that you are being, as I would see it, "sucked in."

I don't say the above to offend any believers - I've often *wished* I did believe - I am quite jealous of those who say their faith has brought them comfort in hard times. And I could (and did) pretend to believe, but it would be a lie.

You may well find she doesn't mind a good religious debate, but if it's going to offend either one of you, avoid that. I personally don't mind people mentioning their religious beliefs (heck, some people barrack for Geelong and that's just as silly to me) as long as they don't look down on me for my beliefs.

#7 EsmeLennox

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:27 AM

Yes, leave it. And for goodness sake, if you want to keep your sister in your life don't start trying to 'do something about' her lack of faith. If my sister tried to do something about my 'lack of faith' she would not receive a very pleasant reaction.

I agree with Lyn630 (well except for that wildly ridiculous belief that people shouldn't support Geelong! tongue.gif) my non-belief if probably just as strong as your belief, your sister is probably the same. The only difference is I don't feel one iota jealous that I don't believe in God.

Edited by Jemstar, 16 December 2012 - 08:31 AM.


#8 B.feral3

Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:33 AM

QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 10:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
2) as a Christian am I obliged to be doing something about her feelings towards God?


I don't know if you are obliged but please don't. You obviously need this 'belief' to fill a void and bring you peace and calm. That's fine. Whatever floats your boat and gets you through the day. Others don't. The more you try and push your views, like PP said, the more you will push people away.

If my sister pushed her God agenda onto me I'd shut the door too. (And I'd keep her well away from my kids.  ph34r.gif)

Edited by Bek+3, 16 December 2012 - 11:17 AM.


#9 StupidUsername

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:00 AM

QUOTE
The best thing you can do is just be her sister, support, love and pray for her. She is obviously very confused and hurt at the moment, and in need of someone to blame, and at this point of time it is God.



What the heck!  How do you know she is very confused and hurt?  What will praying for her do?  Help her see the error in her ways in not believing in God Almighty?  Help her see the light?  Gimme a break.   There's nothing worse than someone trying to force their views on someone else!  How about the sisters agree to disagree in regards to their respective religious/non-religious beliefs and move on.  They both need to be respectful of each others beliefs - end of story.  







#10 ♥~Bodhichitta~♥

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:07 AM

I would also agree to just leave it.

I have a similar situation with my family.  I'm a Buddhist (became Buddhist about 5 years ago), and my family are Atheist.  They have very strong feelings against what I believe in - my parents are of the opinion that Buddhism is a cult.  Mum said at first that "it was a phase, I would snap out of".  

Now we just agree not to discuss it.

I live my life according to my principles and beliefs, and I'm happy with that  original.gif

#11 thatsnotmybelly

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:20 AM

Most people replying here are non-believers themselves. It's different for a committed Christian. The bible tells us that belief and unbelief are not equally valid - we actually think that one is right and the other is wrong.

So it's not as simple as just agreeing to disagree - according to our Christian faith the OP would actually think this sister is in eternal trouble and she'd like to help her out of it. So ignoring the issue is not going to cut it . . . if you think something bad is going to happen to your sister, you would see what you could do to help, right??

My advice would be that the most helpful thing would be to pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for your sister. And other posters are probably right in that she won't be receptive to comments from you at this time, so it's probably better to speak very gently about your faith and continue not to push it. But I do believe that God will answer prayers and that one day there might be a time when you can help her out by sharing what you believe. I think prayer would be the most useful thing in this situation.

#12 RealityBites

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

Some of us would prefer eternal trouble  wink.gif

#13 lucky 2

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:32 AM

QUOTE
I would love for her to find faith but I don't feel I have any right to put my ideas onto anyone else yet she feels it's ok to try and make me see "sense" and realise I am wrong??

Respect is a two way street.
Within the sister relationship it is pretty usual for both to express their respective opinions, feelings etc but if either of you is hurting or offending the other then isn't it ok to talk about that and set up some boundaries? For your mutual benefit?
You don't necessarily have to talk to her about it if you don't wish to, but you can do this yourself, ie steer conversations away from religious beliefs if things are becoming heated.
All the best.



#14 EsmeLennox

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:32 AM

QUOTE (aleithaki @ 16/12/2012, 07:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
- we actually think that one is right and the other is wrong. .


So do we. Good grief, you really think you can take the moral high ground because 'god' is on your side?

I'm all for eternal trouble if it keeps people from preaching their fantasies to me.

I totally agree that this is a situation where the sisters need to agree to disagree and not discuss it. I would also keep in mind that we've only got one sister's versions of events, her 'rarely' mentions religion might be, from her sister's perspective, 'every time I see her she brings up her preachy religious views'.

That said, if I we ever going to 'turn religious' I suspect Buddhism would be the way I would go. Buddha was a pretty cool guy who recognized the value of introspection. Something that I think is seriously under-rated in our world today.

Edited by lucky 2, 16 December 2012 - 03:28 PM.


#15 B.feral3

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:36 AM

Gee, I hope no one is praying for me right now. What a hideous waste of their time!!



#16 schoolmum

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:50 AM

QUOTE (StupidUsername @ 16/12/2012, 09:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What the heck!  How do you know she is very confused and hurt?  What will praying for her do?  Help her see the error in her ways in not believing in God Almighty?  Help her see the light?  Gimme a break.   There's nothing worse than someone trying to force their views on someone else!  How about the sisters agree to disagree in regards to their respective religious/non-religious beliefs and move on.  They both need to be respectful of each others beliefs - end of story.

Her sister is dealing with the suicide death of a very close friend, which in my experience, does invoke feelings of hurt and confusion. Christians do not only pray for people to save their souls, we pray for people to have peace and clarity of mind so that they may be able to process what is going on in their lives in a constructive way. We believe in the power of prayer, and that God will answer at the right time. I pray for people I don't even know as I walk along the street, I even pray for the children I work with, that they be kept safe and be loved, so that one day they can grow up and be the best that they can be. If that means that they develop a faith of their own the so be it, but ultimately my only reason for doing it is because I love them.



#17 lucky 2

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:52 AM

Hi,

In the interests of keeping the Faith and Religion sub-forum a safe place for members to discuss religious beliefs, I ask that all members be respectful of each other and of the nature of this forum.

I may remove or edit posts with the above in mind.

Regards,

lucky 2

eta, I have removed 4 posts

2nd eta, after Admin Review I have returned 3 posts to view, one containing a minor edit.

I would ask again that if you have a concern or complaint in regards to a Moderator action, please directly contact the Moderator concerned or a member of EB Administration rather than arguing Moderator decisions on the public boards.
This allows us time to thoroughly review threads, posts and actions.
Your cooperation, understanding, patience and support is always appreciated.
Thanks original.gif

Edited by lucky 2, 16 December 2012 - 04:18 PM.


#18 starsg

Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:54 AM


Next time she starts, simply say "I don't insult or judge your views on religion, please show me the same respect". then don't talk about religion with her? it's probably one of those situations where you aren't ever going to see eye to eye.

#19 niggles

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:02 AM

I think the best approach is Starsg's approach.

QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 08:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have never ever preached to her, I am tolerant and respectful of anyone's choice of religion as I didn't find my faith until I did some soul searching at 18. So I can hardly judge others if I didn't believe once IYKWIM

I would love for her to find faith but I don't feel I have any right to put my ideas onto anyone else yet she feels it's ok to try and make me see "sense" and realise I am wrong??


Did everyone see these parts of the OP because it sounds like most of the people responding here didn't even bother to read it? The OP doesn't sound even slightly pushy. The sister on the other hand...

#20 EsmeLennox

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:04 AM

Yes I did read it, but we are only hearing one viewpoint. I think the best thing to do is agree to disagree.

#21 Roobear

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:05 AM

My best friend who I met when I was 16 is a committed Christian and I am an atheist and it is never been an issue ever. She respects the fact I don't believe and I respect the fact she does. We don't discuss religion at all. I love her dearly, she is guardian to my children and a true friend. I would never let religion get in the way of that and neither would she.

#22 Niamh23

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:12 AM

QUOTE (aleithaki @ 16/12/2012, 10:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Most people replying here are non-believers themselves. It's different for a committed Christian. The bible tells us that belief and unbelief are not equally valid - we actually think that one is right and the other is wrong.

So it's not as simple as just agreeing to disagree - according to our Christian faith the OP would actually think this sister is in eternal trouble and she'd like to help her out of it. So ignoring the issue is not going to cut it . . . if you think something bad is going to happen to your sister, you would see what you could do to help, right??

My advice would be that the most helpful thing would be to pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for your sister. And other posters are probably right in that she won't be receptive to comments from you at this time, so it's probably better to speak very gently about your faith and continue not to push it. But I do believe that God will answer prayers and that one day there might be a time when you can help her out by sharing what you believe. I think prayer would be the most useful thing in this situation.


How can you believe that a loving God would allow your dear family member to be placed in "eternal trouble" for not believing in him?


Edited by lucky 2, 16 December 2012 - 10:28 AM.
r/o content, please see Mod post above


#23 RichardParker

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

It can be really hurtful when someone you love is rude about your religious beliefs, especially when you would never dream about being rude about theirs (or lack thereof).  

Sometimes I've had to just smile and laugh, other times I've had to make it clear that it's not cool to call me stupid or naive for believing in God.  Because I'm not stupid or naive, and neither are many people who have faith.  To say that someone is stupid because they believe in God is ignorant and discriminatory.

OP, your sister is probably angry at God, or the idea of him, especially when she's going through such grief,   She sees you as representing faith and god and so hates that part of you.  It's vexing to her and she probably can't reconcile the fact that she loves you while you're into something that she finds abhorrent.

This is her issue, not yours.  You can engage in ontological debate if you want, but it doesn't seem like it's about that.  Just don't take anything she says personally. Eventually she will hear herself and realise that not pushing one's views onto someone else goes both ways.

#24 Expelliarmus

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

QUOTE (snortle @ 15/12/2012, 10:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I would love some opinions


I guess I have a few questions someone can hopefully answer...
1) What do you do if you are in this situation? What should I do?
2) as a Christian am I obliged to be doing something about her feelings towards God? Her best friend committed suicide many years ago and she lost all her faith then and is still very bitter about the idea that there is a god out there that would allow such things. I have tried to talk to her about this but it's difficult to do without her feeling that i am being insensitive about her late friend.
I would love for her to find faith but I don't feel I have any right to put my ideas onto anyone else yet she feels it's ok to try and make me see "sense" and realise I am wrong??

Any comments are appreciated xxxx

No, you are NOT obliged to do something about her feelings towards God. Whatever gave you that idea?

The only person who can 'do something' about her feelings towards God is the holy spirit. Your role is to support her, love her and live your life according to your feelings. When/if the holy spirit moves upon her then he will but YOU will never change her feelings about God and you don't need to. That's not what being a Christian is. A Christian is doing what Christ would do and the answer to that is found in Matthew 25:34-45.

#25 Expelliarmus

Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:52 AM

QUOTE (Niamh23 @ 16/12/2012, 10:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How can you believe that a loving God would allow your dear family member to be placed in "eternal trouble" for not believing in him?

Not all Christians believe such a thing.



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