Andrew left a thoughtful, interesting comment on my recent post about coming out to my family. I think it’s worth responding to at length, and I’d like you all to chime in if you feel inspired. What do you think about my decision?
The only family member who does not know of my atheism is my brother. I love him very much, and he’s a great guy. I am intimidated, however, by his methods of confrontation, debate, and the tenacity with which he clings to and reveres his doctrines and traditions. He is a passionate conservative, KJV-only, fundamentalist Baptist preacher who loves to evangelize and debate (neither of which I have ever enjoyed).
“Sinning against yourself”
Andrew has this to say about my reluctance:
I can understand your feelings of wanting to keep people in the dark, it is easier to do nothing. My own coming out as atheist prompted a lot of negative comments from my family, but now I am so free! And after a few years have been able to mend fences.
I just want to say that by lying to your brother, you are sinning against yourself. What’s more important, his feelings or your being able to live in an honest, open way without cognitive dissonance?
Gonna be painful tho, I know how hurtful believers can be when they are saving the lost.
Privacy vs. Lying
I hear what Andrew is saying, and I admire him for coming out to his family and working through all of the backlash. I’d like to clarify things just for my own satisfaction:
And after a few years have been able to mend fences.
That’s right. It takes years. It’s like putting off excercising/dieting to lose weight because you know how long it will take to reach your goal and how hard it will be. Sure, it’s worth it to start (the sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over the hard parts). But that’s not what procrastinators do. I’m a procrastinator. I avoid difficult situations and put them off. That’s where I’m coming from.
I just want to say that by lying to your brother, you are sinning against yourself.
If you consider me not telling him about my religious choices as lying, then I can see your point. But I do not think I’m lying at all. If he asks me a question, I answer honestly. Sure, I’m not telling everything and am withholding some pretty key information about my opinions on certain issues, but I don’t think someone is necessarily lying to me if they don’t tell me about the most personal things going on in their lives.
It’s kind of like political discussions. I’m a progressive, and the rest of my blood family are staunch conservatives. If I don’t mention that I’m a progressive, or that I disagree with their views, or shout my opinions to the world… that doesn’t mean I’m lying to them. they may assume I share their views, but I might not.
I may be avoiding difficult situations–and I may be silly and scared of it–but I don’t think I’m doing it in a “sinful” (ugh, that word…) way.