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Labosseuse
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« on: July 12, 2007, 07:50:35 PM »

My husband and I are having trouble with my parents.  They are Reformed (very staunchly so) and are quite opposed to our interest in the Orthodox church.  We are very close with both sets of parents.  It is very hard to think that if we convert we may distance one or both sets of parents despite our best efforts to avoid doing so.  My parents in particular have grossly misunderstood the EOC and I don't know how to rectify their misconceptions. 

This is just another reason, in our minds, to take our time on this journey and not rush. 
I'd just like input on how others have handled this...thanks. 
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2007, 03:11:49 AM »

My husband and I are having trouble with my parents.  They are Reformed (very staunchly so) and are quite opposed to our interest in the Orthodox church.  We are very close with both sets of parents.  It is very hard to think that if we convert we may distance one or both sets of parents despite our best efforts to avoid doing so.  My parents in particular have grossly misunderstood the EOC and I don't know how to rectify their misconceptions. 

This is just another reason, in our minds, to take our time on this journey and not rush. 
I'd just like input on how others have handled this...thanks. 

I am in no way in any position to comment on your experiences since I was born into Orthodoxy.  But I am reminded of the harsh verse Christ gives to His followers:

Quote
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to  ‘set  a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and  ‘a man’s enemies will be  those of his own  household.
Matthew 10

Quote
49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Luke 12

Sometimes, the decisions you make are not something pleasing your loved ones will see.  But prayer never fails to give comfort.  I pray that all may be well.  Seek God first, so that all may be well.

God bless.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2007, 04:13:22 AM »

My husband and I are having trouble with my parents.  They are Reformed (very staunchly so) and are quite opposed to our interest in the Orthodox church.  We are very close with both sets of parents.  It is very hard to think that if we convert we may distance one or both sets of parents despite our best efforts to avoid doing so.  My parents in particular have grossly misunderstood the EOC and I don't know how to rectify their misconceptions. 

This is just another reason, in our minds, to take our time on this journey and not rush. 
I'd just like input on how others have handled this...thanks. 

 I can empathize with you both for not wanting to alienate your parents. FWIW, my advice is to try to help them understand that by disagreeing with their views, you aren't rejecting them and would still very much love to have them in your lives. Yet you need to understand that your parents are responsible for their own decisions, not you. Should your decision to (hopefully  Wink ) one day choose to enter into Holy Orthodoxy cause a strain between the four of you, you cannot see this as your fault. Your parents undoubtedly have the best of intentions for you, but your decisions are your decisions. It seems as if they are trying to guilt you into fitting their mould of what a Christian should look like. This, I believe, is what is at the heart of the matter. If their love is truly unconditional, which I'm sure it is, then they will eventually get past this and accept you regardless of your choices. Regarding rectifying their misconceptions, I wouldn't worry about it. 1) You can't change a made-up mind. It usually ends up in an argument or creating more animosity when we try to change an unwilling attitude. 2) If and when they really want to know about it, they'll ask you. In the meantime, just continue loving them regardless of whether or not they agree with you.

 If you have been talking to a priest, talk with him about this also. And I agree with minasoliman that prayer gives comfort...

 In Christ,

 Gabriel

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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2007, 09:25:46 AM »

Labosseuse,

I completely understand. My parents were always very religious, and so when I entered Orthodoxy, they were quite hostile. Since then, though, they have come to realize that it is indeed Christian. They still think of it as the same as their Protestant denomination, but they are at least no longer hostile. I think this is in large part to my realization that they thought my going to another religion was a rejection of them. In fact, it was the fulfillment of what they were trying to teach me since I was very young.

My mother's main objection with the church was that she thought we redefined Christ to make him something He is not--a fine objection. Actually, the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is what I had been speaking with her about for years before I was Orthodox, and she now agrees that it's more accurate than her own church's (she feels her church limits the work of the Holy Spirit, and I agree). Since that first hurdle, she's been able to slowly integrate Orthodox ideas into her own theology, so that now she calls herself Bapticostodox. Okay, I can go with that. She's very much where I was shortly before converting.

My father's objection was that Orthodoxy made too big a deal of Mary the Theotokos. I've been careful to describe every theology we have about her as being about the Church as a whole, as she is an example for the Church of how to bear Christ to the world. He agrees with me that the Church ought to bear Christ, but is not yet convinced that those things apply to the Theotokos. I think eventually, though, he'll connect the two.

The thing my father liked best about Orthodoxy was the communion. He had complained for years that his church had stopped taking communion every week from the same cup and had gone to a once-a-month, Sunday-night communion with little plastic cups. In fact, as they were looking for a new church, Sunday morning communion was very high on his list. Unfortunately, the church they belong to now does not participate in that tradition, but he still holds it as a very high priority. That's an Orthodox idea.

So I guess the best advice is that as you convert, make sure that your parents know your conversion is not a rejection of them. As you can see, my parents taught me Orthodox things, even when they did not know these things are Orthodox. Try to find something similar with your parents, and it will ease the tension and maybe even improve your relationship.

Hope that helps.
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2007, 10:41:40 AM »

Dear Labosseuse,

I never had the prooblem of religious parents who would oppose me being an Orthodox because of religious reasons (them belonging to a different "denomination"). However, maybe, to some extent, I can relate, because my mother is a very enthusiastic, outspoken atheist (secular humanist). She is not really "opposed" to my being Orthodox, but I have to watch myself always, whenever I speak with her (on the phone only, b/c she lives in Ukraine) -  because I know that she would never miss a chance to comment, just how stupid and regressive and fake and harmful all those religions and churches of the world are. My wife is pretty much the same way, even though she does almost always go with me to Divine Liturgies, to make me happy.Smiley (Aren't atheists at times easier to deal with than those Heterodox? Smiley)

I do not know, to what extent the opinion of your parents influences your and your husband's everyday life. In my case, of course, my mom's influence is fairly minimal. Yet, I do not want to upset her and when we talk on the phone, I am just trying to avoid ANY mentioning of ANYTHING Christian, religious, "churchly," etc. Sometimes it is difficult because my mom starts talking about that, telling me yet another story about those horrible stupid priests in Ukraine, etc. - and then I am trying to change the topic, at all cost. She is 77. Physically, she is still very strong, thanks be to God (my wife says that she hears my mom speak from the other end of the phone even when my wife is ~200 feet away), but her perception of the world has already become very rigid. I know that I cannot change anything in what she believes, how she thinks. I know that I cannot "educate" her about anything - it's useless, futile, and a risky business... So, I just avoid, avoid, avoid... Dodge. Smiley

Sorry, this is probably not helpful at all, but I still thought I'd share.

George
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2007, 10:48:45 AM »

My family is opposed to my wife, children, and myself having converted to Orthodoxy.  My sister and brother-in-law are shunning me.  My parents are supposed to be shunning me, but their resolve seems to be failing.

The Protestant church I grew up in considers itself the one, true church.  My parents don't even consider the Orthodox parish I attend every Sunday to be a church.  They keep telling me that I need to get back to church.

I guess what I'm saying is that you aren't alone, because many others have experienced opposition from their family.  The benefits of Orthodoxy are more than worth the struggle.  I can't help my family if I give in to their pressure.  I hope this helps.
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2007, 11:14:29 AM »

My parents in particular have grossly misunderstood the EOC and I don't know how to rectify their misconceptions.

Misconceptions can be corrected only one at a time.  It may help if you were to list your parents' specific misconceptions and objections to Orthodoxy.  I am sure frequent post-ers here can provide helpful explanations that you can use in conversation with your parents.

(This does not mean that you will persuade your parents to change their minds, only that their objections will become more obviously rooted in a bias toward Calvinism and less in whatever it is they imagine Orthodoxy to be.)
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2007, 11:33:59 AM »

Labosseuse,

...so that now she calls herself Bapticostodox.

Heh. I remember when I was called Catholodox for a while during my conversion.


Labosseuse,

My mom has had some problems with the church as well. Though hers mostly focus around the ethnic Greek part. She still comes to church with me on Sunday though (even though she's not Orthodox and not interested in joining).

I wish I could give sound advice based on experience, but I think the best thing to do is calmly explain the Church's history and belief system.
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2007, 11:58:35 AM »

Labosseuse:

I am in the boat with you except it is my wife. Her objections are not so much theological as they are emotional. I am at my wits end since the topic has resurfaced yet again and has not changed in the six years since my return to Orthodoxy. It has intensified since we had a recent, silly, falling out with Orthodox friends whom she had high regard for.  Maybe your parent's objections are also based in nostalgia/emotion as opposed to theology. Well at least you have each other to comfort you in your marriage.

Many prayers and blessings

Dan
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2007, 12:47:43 PM »

Thank you all for your kind replies!
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2007, 02:35:07 PM »

Sorry I've no practical advice other than being tactful and charitable but honest, and praying for the grace to do that, but I know a similar couple: somebody born and raised ultra-strict Dutch Reformed (not Reformed Church in America like Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller; this church is like the Dutch version of Scottish 'Wee Free' Presbyterians) who married a devout ethnic Russian and converted to Orthodoxy.

I'm sure you can see all the commonalities: both ethnic and both religiously conservative Christians, rather different from what's now mainstream society. Probably attracted them to each other.

IIRC the Dutch Reformed parents physically couldn't stand being in the Russian Orthodox church for the wedding.

I don't know how it all turned out but I think a kind of peace was reached.

They're still married and both still Orthodox!
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2007, 04:43:53 AM »

In my case, my family (who was Episcopalian) was thrilled that my wife and I left the Mormon Church and eventually found a home in the Orthodox Church.  They were a little confused as to why we did not return to the Episcopal Church (we did for about a year) and stay there.  But after almost 20 years they  have come to enjoy the Orthodox Christian spiritual insight we have on the Scriptures, the historic Church, and general Christian life.  My mother was so attracted that she eventually become Orthdox and was Chrismated several months before she reposed.  She found great joy and solace in the orthdox Church after my father's death.
Her funeral has  opened the church to a possibility for many of my other relatives who are now favorably asking questions and talking about that ancient Christian Church that Tommy goes to.

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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2007, 02:33:36 AM »

Thomas, glad you left Utah. If you ever have problems with them just about them about James Strang, whom Joseph Smith appointed as his successor.

Labosseuse , perhaps you could give them a copy of Thirsting for God in a land of shallow wells by Matthew Gallatin (http://www.amazon.com/Thirsting-God-Land-Shallow-Wells/dp/1888212284/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-9708132-1028000?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185517491&sr=8-1).

It is a fairly gentle book which may help them come around a bit. Have you tried talking to them much? You could always give them a copy of Becoming Orthodox (http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Orthodox-Journey-Ancient-Christian/dp/0962271330/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-9708132-1028000?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185517897&sr=1-1) if they are more likely to prefer direct answers.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2007, 02:41:54 AM »

Didymus,

"Thirsting for God" is actually the book that changed both my mind and my husband's mind.  We love it!  I have tried discussing this issue with my parents.  Their objections are many, but none of them get to the heart of Orthodoxy or reveal any kind of understanding of the faith beyond superficial, knee-jerk Protestant reactions. 

At this point, I really just feel like giving up trying to help them understand.  Maybe it's better not to discuss it.
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2007, 02:50:12 AM »

Labosseuse, I gave Thirsting for God to a Baptist library I thougth it was so good! If you can not reach them now, perhaps you are best to convert first and pray for your parents. You may find that they are more open once you are baptised. Why this is I do not know but it seems to have worked for quite a number of people. As a former Seventh Day Baptist I could relate to Gallatin in some ways however I wish he had said what the verse was that caused him to leave the SDAs.
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« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2007, 08:39:34 AM »

My husband and I are having trouble with my parents.  They are Reformed (very staunchly so) and are quite opposed to our interest in the Orthodox church.  We are very close with both sets of parents.  It is very hard to think that if we convert we may distance one or both sets of parents despite our best efforts to avoid doing so.  My parents in particular have grossly misunderstood the EOC and I don't know how to rectify their misconceptions. 

This is just another reason, in our minds, to take our time on this journey and not rush. 
I'd just like input on how others have handled this...thanks. 

I take it you were Reformed too immediately  before being an EO inquier (you didn't join another denomination, the charismatic movement etc. in between becoming a EO seeker)?

I might advise that you look into convert testimonies, and focus on ones that mirror your own back ground.   Like the book "Coming Home" is a great example because the pastors of that book speak about "Why they were interested in Orthodoxy", but freely highlight the positive aspects of their past background.   So for example, you could speak about pursuing Orthodox as a continuation and fulfillment of those earlier lessons you learned about such things as "fearing God", "the importance of having proper doctrine", "The importance of corporate worship" "daily prayer", etc.    And sort of give a testimony.

That approach has worked well for me when questioned on the issue.   Of course I haven't faced much hostility except on the issue of fasting which my parents saw as legalism initially.
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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2007, 02:57:50 PM »



We face this every day. My father is an ordained 'evangelist' from a famous baptist seminary and you would not believe the stuff that came out of his mouth as to 'doctrine' when he found we had converted. He would not even speak with me on the matter, due to my sorry gender.  He had to take it up with my newly converted husband who was just as newbie as I was.  It was pointless.  It just doesn't come up anymore now, as we rarely see one another.
My mom was supportive, and is watching me every so carefully as I struggle through unsurmountable odds. No time like the present for testing our resolve you know. Who knows, maybe in the future she will convert.
Dh's parents are absolutely hostile towards the faith.  We are now in a "cult", and I don't even remember what else has been said. It's not been pretty, because being younger automatically means we are wrong, stupid, and endangering our children.

The fact is, dh has to give an account for leadership of this family-and we can't stand before the Creator someday and say we didn't convert because it would upset mom and stepdad.  So we did what we had been led to do, and haven't looked back. Basically, we don't answer to them anymore. I know that sounds harsh, but we do have several children to raise in the faith that we will also give an account for. That new family is more of a responsibility than the one to try and placate the initial family (ie, parents, etc)
You guys have to do what is right no matter who it upsets, sorry to be so blunt but it's true.  If this is what you have been led to, be grateful you have found Orthodoxy and live within it no matter who likes your choice.
Blessings
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2007, 03:05:28 PM »



We face this every day. My father is an ordained 'evangelist' from a famous baptist seminary and you would not believe the stuff that came out of his mouth as to 'doctrine' when he found we had converted. He would not even speak with me on the matter, due to my sorry gender.  He had to take it up with my newly converted husband who was just as newbie as I was.  It was pointless.  It just doesn't come up anymore now, as we rarely see one another.
My mom was supportive, and is watching me every so carefully as I struggle through unsurmountable odds. No time like the present for testing our resolve you know. Who knows, maybe in the future she will convert.
Dh's parents are absolutely hostile towards the faith.  We are now in a "cult", and I don't even remember what else has been said. It's not been pretty, because being younger automatically means we are wrong, stupid, and endangering our children.

The fact is, dh has to give an account for leadership of this family-and we can't stand before the Creator someday and say we didn't convert because it would upset mom and stepdad.  So we did what we had been led to do, and haven't looked back. Basically, we don't answer to them anymore. I know that sounds harsh, but we do have several children to raise in the faith that we will also give an account for. That new family is more of a responsibility than the one to try and placate the initial family (ie, parents, etc)
You guys have to do what is right no matter who it upsets, sorry to be so blunt but it's true.  If this is what you have been led to, be grateful you have found Orthodoxy and live within it no matter who likes your choice.
Blessings

This has to be one of the best if not the best post in this "Convert issues" Forum since I joined in Dec 2005! Brilliant!
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« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2007, 03:16:06 PM »

Agreed. Follows the Lord's words exactly.
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« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2007, 05:12:39 PM »

Imagine the difficulty when the one opposed is your husband (who is ordained American Baptist).   Roll Eyes  Glory to God, we are well reconciled on the matter now and have blessed peace between us.  But it was a hard go for the first two years.

Is it permissiable to "advertise" a Yahoo Discussion group that is dedicated specifically to those who are Orthodox without their spouse?  Though that does not appear to be the issue on this particular thread, I don't think.

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« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2007, 05:14:04 PM »

Is it permissiable to "advertise" a Yahoo Discussion group that is dedicated specifically to those who are Orthodox without their spouse?  Though that does not appear to be the issue on this particular thread, I don't think. 

While I'm glad there exists such a group, board policy is that no, it isn't permissible to advertise this group.
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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2007, 08:35:29 PM »

That's a shame.  It's a good group.   Grin
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« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2007, 11:49:53 PM »

My parents are still violently opposed to my conversion and are both staunch Mexican Presbyterians with an awful hate of anything that even smells Catholic (which Orthodoxy does to the untrained eye).  They cringe at my icon corner and prayerbooks, and have told me my soul is in peril several times.  God alone gives me the love to love them and argue no longer.  It seems they will never accept it, so all I can do is live as best I can in Jesus Christ, and hope one day they can see it.  If not, God's will be done.

Peace to you.
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« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2007, 11:55:11 PM »

  God alone gives me the love to love them and argue no longer.  It seems they will never accept it, so all I can do is live as best I can in Jesus Christ, and hope one day they can see it. 

Truly, this is all we can do!

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