ASK THE POSEK
SHOULD I LEAVE MY CHRISTIAN FAMILY?
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Q: I recently came to Noahism from a Christian family. My siblings and parents have started talking to me a lot about my soul and that they are worried that I won’t be “saved.” I have argued the truth of Torah with them over and over, but they just won’t yield. I hate to ask this, but I have been wondering it. Should I break off the relationship or should I keep trying to bring them to truth?
A: This is a hard situation and I know how trying it can be. My heart goes out to you! However, you should take comfort in the fact that it is neither a new question nor one that is unique to Noahides. Whenever a person makes a significant religious choice, it is not unusual to encounter resistance from one’s family. This is true of those who become Noahides, convert to Judaism, and even Jews from non-religious families who decide to start keeping the mitzvos of the Torah. Almost everyone encounters resistance from their families. It is very important to consider the source of this resistance because it is rarely what it seems.
In my experience, when someone becomes a Noahide, Baal Teshuva, or convert, his family’s resistance is a product of fear. Fear of what? It is the fear of losing the relationship. The family views the rejection of a prior religion as the rejection of one’s upbringing, background, and, ultimately, one’s own family. No matter how much one’s family may say that their concern is religious, this is rarely so. Rather, they express this concern in religious terms because the stimulus that created the situation is a religious one.
In your situation, your family is not concerned for your soul. They are not afraid that you are rejecting their religion. They are afraid that you are rejecting THEM. Confronting this fear by arguing the truth of your belief over theirs won’t address what is actually motivating them. For now, the challenge is to reassure your family that your rejection of Christianity is not a rejection of them. For example, if in your previous life you spent two hours at church with your parents every Sunday, then you still need to make a point to spend two hours with your parents every Sunday. Visit them at home or have dinner with them. Let them know that, although you don’t go to church anymore, you still value the time spent with them. If they bring up their religious concerns, then tell them “I just don’t believe in it anymore. But, I love you guys and I love my family. .” If they continue then tell them, “I appreciate your concern for my soul, but I am happy with my decision.” The most important thing is to constantly reassure them that your rejection of your previous religion is not a rejection of them.
Do not argue Noahism or Christianity with your family. At this point, focus your energies on reassuring your family and upon your own studies. Immerse yourself deeply in the Noahide laws and relevant areas of Torah study. Let the Torah mold you into a better person. Ultimately, your example is more important and more convincing than any argument you could offer as to the truth of the Noahide laws. Remember, you only have the power to change yourself. At some point, your family will see a difference and start to ask you about your faith. That is the time to have the conversation with them.
Use this situation as an opportunity to build strong bridges with your family. Breaking off relationships is never a good thing (unless, of course, the relationship is patently unhealthy). By terminating the relationship, you are also terminating any chance of having a positive impact on their lives.
May HaShem give you strength and may you serve as a light to others!
For a far more in-depth and advanced study of all the Seven Noahide Laws consider taking the Noahide Laws Yeshiva Course.