Non-Christian Parents?

edited December 1969 in Personal Issues
Hello all,

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.


  • I would tell you what I would do if i were in a similar situation. I would continue praying for him PERIOD. You are not the creator of your father, God is. So if God wants him he will find a way to get him back. Don't underestimate the power of your prayers. God listens and takes the appropriate action at the right time.

    As for the time you are staying with him, I understood from your story that it is only temporary. I would try as much as possible to avoid engaging in such kind of conversation. i am sure you will find some other common points of interests other than religious views. Talk about your education, your expectations in your future husband, political topics.... etc, Show him that you need his opinion in some decisions you have to take in your life. you know what I mean ? Just show him that you still consider him your loving father. Also, try not to judge him for his sinful relation. Give him a hint that you are praying for him every day because you love him. I know that religious converstions may pop up from time to time, but when that happens, try to be relaxed and don't raise your voice tone. Don't expect to convince him to change his beliefs by talking. Just show him that you will continue loving him no matter what he does, and leave the rest for God

    My opinion is not necessarily the best in the world but I just didn't want to leave your post unanswered  :)
  • dzheremi,  I hear the confusion and concern in your note.  I am sorry for the losses you have suffered, as well.  Life can throw us more curveballs than we sometimes think we are capable of handling.  As an older person, let me assure you that whatever is happening in your father's life, God is big enough to handle, just as God can handle your life.  God can take our anger, our sadness, our worship, our love, our fear, our hope, our torment--and knows just what to do with it.  "For we don't even know what to pray for, nor how to pray as we should, but the Spirit does it for us with such groanings as cannot be expressed in words, and we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans" (Romans 8:27-28, Living Bible paraphrase).  I agree with you that what your dad is involved in is false teaching.  Whether or not it is a cult would depend on the autonomy he might have to disagree and/or to leave the group without repercussions.  (You know, if you leave Jehovah's Witnesses, they cut you off completely, same with Amish.)  If your father is all caught up in his relationship with this young woman, he may be willingly fooling himself because he wants her.  You said he had addiction problems in the past, and it might help to remember that this probably makes him susceptible to needing someone else to "solve" his problems and give him an answer he thinks will hold him.  In other words, he is ripe for following the wrong leader.  I would encourage you to pray for him and to trust God for your dad's path.  It is not up to you, nor should you carry responsibility for your dad's choices.  He is entirely accountable for who he is and what he chooses in life.  Do not preach.  (It may be hard.)  Instead, if I could encourage you, I would remind you to concentrate on the goodness of God and on the comfort He gives.  You might play music you enjoy that has a healthy Christian message, or if you like to sing, you might sing hymns that you like.  You might have a favorite Bible verse and you might put it up to remind yourself of it.  If, however, your father raises questions with YOU, if HE initiates conversations about any of these things, any faith issues, please be ready to open your Bible--say, "Hey, Dad, let's look it up together--let's not take the pastor's word, let's look for ourselves, or go online and see what other respected and tried and true teachers say about this..."  and then wait.  You may or may not see any change, but honey, don't let it distress you too much.  Your father has his path, you have yours.  Take responsibility to hear your Shepherd and trust that God knows your situation and wants you to rest. 
  • Thank you for your insights, Godhelpme2011 & ZanAmrikai. Of course I will try my hardest to stay out of religious conversations with him, though I am afraid that eventually it will come up in a big way, as he is planning to marry the Filipino woman (child, really; she's three years younger than I am) in this group. My only consolation is that I will be gone by then, hopefully in another state. I know he'll want me to come back to attend the wedding, but I just don't know if I could do that...

    Anyway, thanks again for your support and advice.
  • I dont have "non-Christian" parents in the sense you probably mean, but both of my parents are protestant. There is alot of tension mainly because my parents want my son to stay with them overnight, so they can take him to church. I tried "not caring" like some of those have advised me, but I cannot. This has caused major tensions, not to mention my books. So I have a rather fun time with my parents.
  • sometimes you have to deal with your parents like they are work-mates or neighbours.
    not everyone is good at being a parent, and many have not had good teaching in their own early life.
    also, sometimes we have expectations that are too high, and we want our parents to be (at the same time) parents, best friends and priests.
    so if you have a poor relationship, don't spend too much time longing for things to change. just accept the situation as it is and try to form some kind of friendship (doesn't have to be close) based on reality.

    you say your dad is generous. so you are probably obliged to listen to him and spend some time with him if you accept his generosity. focus on his good points, and thank him for the good things you have learnt from him. but don't hide your opinion, have sensitive discussions. above all, don't expect too much. this is a very important lesson i learnt and it makes a lot of difference when you are laid back in the relationship.

    ioannes, i think you are right not to let your child attend your parents church, he is your child. they can go to the park with him or you can do other things together. respect them for what they have taught you (even if it is not much) and again, don't expect too much.

    may God bless you both and give you Godly advisors in your church environment who can fill the gaps  :)
  • [quote author=Ioannes link=topic=10275.msg126933#msg126933 date=1294930529]
    I dont have "non-Christian" parents in the sense you probably mean, but both of my parents are protestant. There is alot of tension mainly because my parents want my son to stay with them overnight, so they can take him to church. I tried "not caring" like some of those have advised me, but I cannot. This has caused major tensions, not to mention my books. So I have a rather fun time with my parents.

    What ethnicity are you? How about you tell your parents to come to us! Then everyone's happy and the world lives happily ever after with no more wars... except Israel, Korea, Tunisia, Mexico, Guatemala, Belarus, Cote D'Ivoire, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, China, and Ecowas. Does your family accept that you are now one of us? How do you like the church (sorry for going off-topic).
  • Abnoub,
                Unfortunately I have been struggling with many things, mostly spiritually related. My dad wanted to become baptized but seen some things he didnt like, which I am not starting to see. My mom could care less but she thinks some of the people there are nice. I am american but I dont know how long I will remain Orthodox, to be honest. I do not know if I could ever reject the church, but there are things that bother me and its hard for me to attend. I know you probably didnt want to hear this but I like to say it like it is. Thanks.
  • I am confused. Surely there is something in every church that you won't like? No church is perfect, right? Since we're all sinners and all that. I dunno. Maybe it is too much of a culture shock?

    (Sorry to pry, but this is very interesting and relevant to me, since I am also an American and have no ties to Egypt or its culture. Sure, I took a year of Arabic in college, but...  ;))
  • Well of course no church is perfect and I dont expect anyone to be. I dont really care enough to get into this here. I also do not want anyone to get the idea that I am bashing anyone or cutting anyone down. I have made my complaints known and it has been made known to me how relevant they are. Right now I am looking into some antiochian churches, that is kind of a last resort. From now on I will just keep to myself, I have found that opening my mouth brings undesirable consequences, understandably. dzheremi, if you want specifics then send me a message.
  • Ah, okay. Sorry, I didn't mean to put you on the spot. I am relatively new here and don't have a good sense of the dynamics of this place yet. I hope that you will find a peaceful place to be with God, Ioannes.
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