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Living with non Christian Parents


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#1 Phoebe K.

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 09:02 PM

Hi all,

 

I am a relatively young Christian (I was revived by baptism at Pascha this year). I am however the only Orthodox Christian an in my family and I am wondering what advice the fathers give on living the faithful life in a non christian household.  In particular what advice they give on relationships with parents who are outside the faith.

 

Phoebe



#2 Kosta

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:48 AM

Expect persecution. Many saints were born of pagan parentage, they either didn't mine, or the father divorced the mother as in Constantine's case, you can even throw in ST. Monica. Sometimes the believing child ended up being martyred like ST Katherine.

Truth be told your relationship won't be any different than any child who is devout as most households today are quite secular. Meaning you will be the black sheep and relatives will think you have joined a cult.

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 07:29 AM

Phoebe, much depends on your family's reaction.  Did you explain anything to them about your turning to the Church and your reception into it?  Was their reaction on the level of 'oh, that's nice dear' followed by indifference (my family's reaction to my becoming Orthodox) or are there problems?  Fasting is an obvious area which might cause at least practical difficulties - having different meals from your parents.  If your family notice a change for the better in you, that may mollify any concerns or doubts they may have.  I would suggest that, whilst patristic comment and accounts from the lives of saints who experienced such problems may be helpful, this is essentially a pastoral matter to talk through with your priest who knows you and your particular circumstances.  But sharing any experience with others here could also be helpful.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 28 August 2013 - 07:30 AM.


#4 Phoebe K.

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:23 PM

Well, my parents considered my converting to Christianity (Anglican as I was before I came home to orthodoxy) as a rebelian.  They let me get on with it most of the time, and even bourt me some of the things I needed for my baptism.  Fasting has not been too much of an issue as we only eat as a family once or twice a week and we various diary peculiarity in the family anyway so it has been accepted as what I do.

 

the main issue is with using incense and candles in my room when praying.

 

My parish Priest is really good about supporting me, and so is my Godmother.

 

Phoebe



#5 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:24 PM

I think the attitude in general by the faithful toward non-believers ought to be one of compassion (and not in a condescending, patronizing tone). 



#6 Ryan

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 03:56 PM

I would say that burning incense and candles at home is not essential enough to warrant irritating the family. I think you could safely forego it without compromising your faith.



#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:00 PM

The best advice I can give is to love your family - not just feel warm and fuzzy, but love them with the Christ like love. Sacrifice yourself for them; forgive,serve, embrace, be kind, be generous, etc. In other words be Christ to them. As the only Christian you are the instrument of God by which He will express His love for them. You are the expression of God's love to your family.

Some "don't"s: don't preach, don't teach, don't make yourself better than them, don't try to convert them. If you do the first thing (Love them) then all the rest is unnecessary and if you do any of the second without having first done the first, then you will only drive them away from Christ.

Fr David

#8 Athanasia

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 07:41 PM

Phoebe,

 

Not knowing what "relatively young" means exactly, I suspect you are still a minor (under 18) living at home with your parents (as you've said).  Fr. David has given you excellent guidance.  I suspect your own parish priest would say exactly the same thing.

 

What does "love your family" look like? If I may take the liberty of unpacking Fr. David's words, it is to do your best to be obedient to your parents and the rules they have in your home.  If they ask you to clean your bedroom, do so with as little (or better yet-no) complaint as possible.  Better yet, keep it clean (make the bed, dust once a week, etc.) so they don't need to ask.  Clear the dinner table.  Keep curfew, if you have one.  Or better yet, get home 5 minutes before curfew.  Call them to let them know where you are when you are out with friends.  Stay on top of class assignments.  Do your best at your school work.  And when they do something that seems unreasonable or makes you angry, sit down and talk with them about it.  Explain your thoughts about it.  It may not change their mind, but it will show them that you want to be cooperative but also have your own opinion of things.

 

You may already do most, if not all, of these things.  But I just thought I'd throw this stuff out there as food for thought.

 

In Christ,

Athanasia (a mom to 2 grown kids - and soon to be Grandma)






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