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-   -   Religion and its hold (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6256)

redevil 02-03-2011 01:08 AM

Religion and its hold
I am not a very religious person, having attended church sporadically as a child and more for the social aspects then true unwavering faith in one particular church. The family that I married into is religious. They aren't really overzealous but rather the nature of their religion is at times one that evokes strong responses. These are people who feel so "connected" to their church (I hesitate to say faith because it seems more of a habitual thing) that they have traveled 18+ hours for a wedding in which much of the family was not allowed to be present, they give a "tithing" that often requires them to then turn to the church for assistance and stay married while miserable and in separate bedrooms for going on 8 years. The way things are done in the church leaves them grappling to deal with our life (haven't even gone down the Poly road!) with me as a person and doesn't allow them to see their son as the person he is.

Because of the teachings of the church (I know this seems to be stereotyping but I know of support groups within the Poly community back home for this) Lobster comes into this with a LOT of self imposed guilt. I know that some of the guilt comes from being a very mono minded person however the extent of it's reach... The thoughts that the poly discussion came up because of lacking in something, of not being enough, I understand. Actually much of the sources of guilt I get. What blindsides me every time is these moments of peace with the situation, these moments of, Wow this isn't as bad as I thought, I'm ok with this and then BAM! Suddenly we are back to day 2, and this is completely wrong and can never be ok. Those moments usually don't last long, and then we are back to the point we were but they are there. It's almost like really on a deep level it makes sense and it's ok but then something comes up to remind him that this was not the way that he was raised (often times a conversation with one of his parents) Usually this not only shakes our poly situation as it is but also his place in every other aspect of life. Suddenly doubts of the kind of father he is are running wild and guilt that his job takes him away, and that it falls on my shoulders..It's a big domino effect after that and takes a long time to get everything back upright.

I don't blame the church or the beliefs, I think a LOT of it has to do with the kind of family Lobster grew up in. However a close friend of my parents' in the poly/swinger community spends much of her free time helping others come to terms with this upbringing as she herself did it. In her case she lost much of her family because of her choice. We have made the conscious decision to keep our choice away from his family for as long as possible. I've gone against his mother many times in the past and she and I have brokered a quiet little peace in which I bite my tongue and she keeps her control through guilt to a minimum.

I guess not being a religious person myself, I don't completely understand how to help Lobster to gain back this part of himself. I do truly feel that a part of him is still very much wrapped up in this religion, in times of stress when I'm not around to help him, he will go back to it like a security blanket. He has not been an active member of the church in about 10 years now, the last few being out of an ultimatum given by his mother. (That helped his issues with the church TONS!) Any advice out there for this..cause I'm drawing a big blank..:confused:

Fidelia 02-03-2011 02:23 AM

I am a sincere Christian, and so I can only say this from my own Christian perspective. If Lobster is an earnest follower of Christ, he should follow CHRIST where Christ leads. Not where the Church leads, or religious tradition, or his family, or his friends, or you or anyone else. Christ alone is 100% trustworthy; nobody else packs the gear.

That being said, a book which helped me a great deal coming to terms as a Christian dealing with these issues is Divine Sex: Liberating Sex from Religious Tradition by Philo Thelos.

Quath 02-03-2011 03:38 AM

I am an atheist, but I grew up in a Christian household. I also have met many people of many different faiths. I see a lot of guilt associated with religious upbringing.

I think children are very easy to indoctrinate, which is why I think it is hard for some people to easily get rid of their childhood beliefs.

It sounds like Lobster needs to find out what he reallly believes and go with that. Create a foundation of beliefs and see how it works out.

For exanple, he could decide that there is a god and this god's focus is on love. Or he could start with Christianity and figure out which version he wants to be true.

I think the best book to help someone become less religious is to read the Old Testament. But try to read it and ask the question, "What would an outsider to the religion think of this?"

Good luck.

redevil 02-03-2011 04:34 AM

..I guess I left out the part that he doesn't believe in organized religion at this point. It's not about a conflict of his beliefs and my beliefs, rather what his upbringing in that faith has left. He will be the first to stand up for certain stigmas associated with the church but he himself isn't interested in attending or participating in that anymore.

What I was trying to get at is the residual effects I guess. Not to sound like I'm bashing or anything like that. Just trying to understand where it comes from is all.

SNeacail 02-03-2011 06:30 AM

I am currently emerging from my crisis in my faith. I was raised in a very strict Christian home. I stuggled alot with many of the teachings and things the church put forth as God's word. Through my own research and study, I am now comfortable with my conclusions and what I believe. Funny thing is my brother has come to some of the same conclussions completely independent of myself. My parents take it as a personal offense that we don't "buy the party line" so to speak. They are convinced that because we don't believe everything they do, that we have rejected God completely.

With just a few words, our parents can make us feel guilty for having a different opinon than they do. They know exactly which buttons to push. The religious groups that scare me the most are those that will have families disown their own children because their children decided to think for themselves and chose an alternate path.

Quath 02-03-2011 02:36 PM


Originally Posted by redevil (Post 64597)
What I was trying to get at is the residual effects I guess. Not to sound like I'm bashing or anything like that. Just trying to understand where it comes from is all.

As a kid, I was told that God wants marriages between one man and one woman and they should not divorce. So everyone around me held this as a gold standard of success in life.

But my parents divorced when I was round 9. After they divorced, I noticed that each one was happier. I realized that divorce could be a good thing for some people. At that point, I started to doubt the gold standard.

I played a lot of "why" games. "Why is lifelong marriage the best thing?" "Why was it ok for the people of the past to have more than one wife?" "Why would God want people to stay married and unhappy than divorced and happy."

I just went on a very long introspection and decided to rebuild my foundation of beliefs. Along the way I lost my belief in God. But I knew my morality and felt I could justify it in a consistent manner. I also realized that non-monogamy was ok as long as people were honest with each other.

I don't think there is an easy to get rid of childhood indoctrination other than strong introspection or hanging around long term with people who believe differently.

Laylah 02-05-2011 09:14 AM

Religion was not meant to harm others..... people do that. i have a diffrent perspective on it all I guess. I take some of what the church says as good.... then some of how they interpret things as the bunk.

I choose to live close to the creator.... and in my heart I know what is right. As does everyone if they choose to listen.
Each religion I feel is part of a bigger puzzle... IMO no one religion has all the answers. Why... because they were not given everything.. after all some things are not our business as humans... and we need to leave what is the Creators... TO the creator and let him take care of his business. And when He wants us to know something.. He'll let us know.... either way. Trust in yourself.... trust in what your heart says... if you ask something.. you already know the answer to.. all questions are answered within yourself... if someone takes the time to sit back and look at things from all angles.

I am not trying to preach or nothing... just stating my point of view.
sometimes the way we are brought up..... has negative effects on our lives... but we learn from that to. And its those lessons that make us who we are. Just so long as what was put onto us as children does not hinder our lives as adults.

nycindie 02-06-2011 12:23 AM

Am I correct in remembering that Lobster was raised Mormon? IMHO, that is a whole different kettle of fish. Quite far removed from any of the more traditional or even non-denominational fundamentalist Christian churches in the US.

I am only slightly familiar with LDS because I do genealogy, but from what I've seen whenever I go to an LDS research library, is there seems to be much less emphasis on the Bible as there is on the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that people who were raised LDS and leave the church, even if they were dissatisfied with it, do seem to need a little bit of deprogramming. It's very cult-like. Not to say it is a cult, but...

Has Lobster ever visited http://www.exmormon.org ? [Mods: not a commercial link] Good information there for someone who is struggling. They have a page with links to blogs by ex-Mormons. Might be good for Lobster to read them, because it is simply a different experience from other types of Christian religions unfamiliar with important LDS rituals/beliefs, such as sealings, celestial marriages, baptizing deceased ancestors, and so on. Viewpoints from ex-Mormons might help him a lot in coming to terms with some of the issues and doubts he has.

redevil 02-06-2011 04:23 PM

You would be correct, he was raised Mormon. Raised Mormon and by a controlling mother who forced it on him and a father who was fairly standoffish unless it was church related. The guilt and the self destructive thoughts that have come from this...his feeling of responsibility for everything, his guilt for even having feelings..It's too much to bear sometimes, especially for myself who is not an emotional person. I shut down, he clings.

Maybe I shouldn't answer this right now because it's been a rough morning but..I will do it anyways and shake my head for it later.

I see where this behavior comes from, but I don't process guilt trips well, even when I know..and so began the vicious cycle. :( I don't know how to get us out of this cycle. Because this recent situation is what opened his eyes to it, professionals who he's tried to talk to come back to "No no, your issue is that she wants a boyfriend. Divorce her."

Athena 02-06-2011 11:48 PM

I was raised with a lot of contradictory attitudes to religion - have some Orthodox Jewish relatives who we were always "not supposed to upset" by having them confronted with the evidence that we were culturally Jewish in my home rather than religiously Jewish. Was sent to a Conservative flavor Jewish Day School which in itself is quite the indoctrination....
I can really understand where Lobster is coming from, though I come from a different religious tradition. Also, because many people I care about are still stuck living under rules from over a thousand years ago that had much to do with the political situation of the time, I feel frustrated that today's leaders leave us stuck under this system, especially when the Jewish system of scriptural interpretation makes staying stuck really unnecessary in my view. In reality I am agnostic (that is, I think there is some kind of purposeful force/Being or Beings running the universe - have no real opinion on its nature though other than I think it is basically benign and it is humans who are busy screwing things up for each other and themselves), however - every once in a while, especially when I have a manic episode of bipolar I get stuck back in the ultra Jewish religious gear, but I hope I have enough self realization at this point to be done with getting stuck like that...)
Still when you associate religion with family and keeping the love of everyone in your family it is a real head trip. Keep being supportive of Lobster and his struggle to figure out his own Spirituality.

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