Apologies in advance for what will probably be somewhat long-winded.
Do any of you have non-Christian parents? If so, how do you deal with the tension it creates in your relationship with them? I am in a delicate position and am having a hard time dealing with it: My mother passed away when I was quite young, and for the time being (at least for the next 6 months) I am living with my father while I wait to hear back from graduate schools. We generally get along okay. He is incredibly kind, generous, and supportive of me in most of my efforts, even though we are worlds apart in terms of our values. (I was raised in a single-parent household after my parents divorced when I was three due to his severe drug addiction endangering our family; He cleaned up after the divorce but has fallen off the wagon several times to varying degrees in the 25 years since then; Please pray for him.)
Recently he has gone from being a very lapsed Roman Catholic (baptized as a child in the 1950s, but as he says, "it never took") to being something of a zealot in a group calling itself "Iglesia Ni Christo" (Tagalog for "Church of Christ"), which is the largest non-Catholic religious body in the Philippines. My father is not Filipino, but he is currently in a sinful relationship with a young Filipina who belongs to this organization. I deliberately avoid calling it a church even though that's what it calls itself, because "church" explicitly calls to mind Christianity, and this group is most defnitely NOT Christian. Among their particular heresies are the following:
- The Bible is "the only basis of service to God"
- Jesus Christ, while recognized as "son of God", is not divine in any way. Only the Father is divine. There is no Holy Trinity.
- The INC's founder, Felix Manalo (1886-1963), is God's last messenger and is, in himself, the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
- Block political voting is mandatory (this is explained as one of the indicators of unity of the church). Relative to its size, the INC carries surprisingly large amount of political power in the Philippines. This is why.
There's a lot more in the list found on Wikipedia on this page
, if anyone is curious about this particular group.
Anyway, I think it's a cult and I've said as much, using as artful yet direct language as I can (keeping in mind that he is my father and I do not wish to cause him any undue pain). I have mostly kept quiet about it because I do not trust myself not to be overcome with the passion of the subject (denying Christ is, to put it mildly, one of my "buttons"), but he has in his own ways injected it into conversations with me despite my clear instructions that I am not in any way interested in joining, meeting, or otherwise sanctioning this group or his participation in it.
I just wonder what more I can do, other than praying (this is what I do most often). I know that's the best thing to do
, but I also know that by my outward actions or inactions (e.g., not being visibly in union with any church), my position is inevitably hurt in these conversations that he insists we have, which are creating more tension and discord than is reasonable at this stage in our lives (I'm 28, he's 60...I've tried to make the point that as adults we can disagree and not argue, but apparently that's not good enough).
Please, if anyone has any similar stories to share or advice to give, I'm more than willing and anxious to listen. Thanks.