Coming Out of the (Non-belief) Closet to My Younger Sister

When I got home this evening my wife was on the phone with my little sister.  I haven’t talked with her in a few weeks, so I grabbed the phone and we spoke about life and kids and all kinds of typical long-distance sibling stuff.  Somewhere along in the conversation, she asked me about how church was going…

I said that I didn’t know.  She reacted in a questioning manner.  I figured that now is the time, if ever it was.

So I told her that I haven’t been to church in several months.  Then I proceeded to explain why.  I explained that the last six or seven years of my life, since leaving oneness pentecostalism have been a search for “the ultimate truth” of god and which version of christianity is right.  I gave her the whole spiel about 40,000 plus versions of christianity using the same source text, but disagreeing over what true christianity is, so there must be some flaws in the source text.

She asked if I had prayed about all of this, and I told her I had done more than my share of praying.  I also told her that I had read the stories of others who had gone through the same things that I had gone through and prayed, and when they got to that point, that’s when they realized god didn’t answer their prayers.  I went through the whole spiel about 90% of prayers aren’t answered, but christians chalk it up to “god working in mysterious ways”.  She said that he also says “no”.  So I asked her how she knows that he actually says “no”.  An answer from silence isn’t an answer at all…

At some point in the conversation, I actually used the phrase, “when I was a christian…” referring to something about praying.  At that point, I knew for sure that it was all or none.  I basically told her that I didn’t believe any of the christian myth anymore.  I said something to the effect of “40,000 versions of christianity disagree over what true christianity is, even while using the same source text, so there must be something wrong with the source text.  And god doesn’t actually answer prayers, except when it’s coincidental, so either there isn’t a god or he doesn’t really care about us.”

I then said something to the effect of “I know you don’t fully understand this or support this or agree with this decision, but it’s the conclusion I’ve come to.”

What happened next really surprised me.  She actually said that still loved me and didn’t want anything to come between us as brother and sister.  I returned the sentiment.

I am very surprised in one way that she didn’t blow up or go overboard, but in another way I’m not.  Her Facebook persona is a lot more ultra-right wing religious fanatic than she is in real life.  Or maybe she is a lot like me and wants to avoid a confrontation at all costs.  Or maybe (and this is the one I like) she really meant it.

Hopefully it stays this way and she won’t hound me or become negative like so many of the stories I’ve heard from others who have become openly secular with their families.  Obviously this recounting of events is a paraphrase and I’ve left a lot out, but overall, I am more than pleased with how it turned out, considering the horror stories I’ve heard from others about the same situation.  I’ll keep you updated when new things happen in this story.


17 thoughts on “Coming Out of the (Non-belief) Closet to My Younger Sister

  1. It’s wonderful to hear that a family member responded in such a good way to your coming out. I’ve had no luck at explaining to my dad why his saying I’ll “make the right decision eventually,” implying that I’ll come back to Catholicism, isn’t the healthiest way to maintain a parent-child relationship. I’m really glad to hear that she put her relationship with you first.

  2. It is always interesting to me how Christians wrap their minds around god answering “no” when the prayer is asking for help in a faith crisis. If my faith in him is not currently part of the plan, what am I doing on my knees?

    I am glad it went better than expected for you, and good luck in your future interactions 🙂

  3. Good on you for being able to be honest with your sister. Mine knows already and I’ve been hesitant on the full Monte with my friends let alone my own blog. We are still in transition and somewhat afraid of both letting go and going full forward.
    Not sure atheism is our destination, just moving away from christianity… slowly

    • Best of luck to you on your journey. It is definitely a difficult decision to let others into your changing worldview, especially when they are close and it goes against everything they believe in. But I’m getting tired of not being able to be myself around people, so the more confidence I build, the more I let go.

  4. I commend you for your courage and honesty. You make an interesting point about problems within the source text. Part of my departure from faith was the realization that faith is not a form of knowledge or certainty. It is a conviction or a state of mind. Since this is the case I have had to level out my playing field and admit my own uncertainty. Feel free to scroll through my blog and read my post: Faith vs. Knowledge. The next three after that form a larger argument. Take care and happy truth seeking!

  5. This notion of “the ultimate truth” is a question I completely identify with. The pursuit of this has taken my life and thinking to a place I never would have imagined. But I have to hope that, if there is a God, an honest pursuit of this question will eventually lead me to the answer.

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