Thursday, May 31, 2012

My son told me he doesn't think he is a christian anymore

Last year my oldest son decided he wanted to go on a foreign exchange trip to Finland. Finland is a very secular country, as they have very few churches compared to America. In addition, his host families weren't religious so going to church was very difficult for him. Over the course of the last year, I have noticed that he was talking less and less about God. So today, I was talking to him on facebook and decided to ask him how his faith was doing. Here was our conversation.

My son: Ehhh, I have to be honest, I don't really consider myself a Christian anymore.

Me: Why?

My son: I began to question my faith like you said, because blind faith is no faith at all. And I realized that all of my reasons for believing were based off of you. I don't have any reason of my own to believe.

Me: What are you going to tell mom? So I guess you aren't worried about me getting mad at you? Since you are telling me.

My son: I don't know, I was just gonna keep it to myself and try to get a Sunday shift at the duck store so I wouldn't have to go to church. Well I'd hope that you'd be accepting and understanding and try to teach me, or teach me to teach myself before you got mad at me. I feel like I can trust you with anything and I want to have a relationship with you where I can tell you anything.

Me: Son, I am not mad at you. I don't know exactly what happens when we die. I believe that God puts everyone right where He wants them. If He wants you to be a christian, you will be a christian. If He wants you to be an agnostic or atheist, guess what? You will be an atheist or agnostic.
One thing is for sure. Our time on this earth is short. You are my oldest son and mean more to me than you will ever know and I am not going to waste a single second, being angry with you for what you believe. I have always taught you to think for yourself and "question" everything you hear. How could I condemn you now, just because you came to a different conclusion than me. That would make me a huge hypocrite.
I love you very much now. And I always will. You will always be my son. I will always be your father. And I will always love you.
He had to go, so that was the end of the discussion. I am sure we will have more. I will admit, that at first, my heart started to beat a little faster. I initially felt a little fear about what might happen to my son. But then, I remembered everything I have been researching and writing about. Do I think God will torture my son in hell, forever? No. Not at all. The Bible says that God loves my son more than I do. If that is true, then He would never do that to my son.
I am not sure exactly what I am going to do at this point. However, I can tell you what I am NOT going to do.
I am NOT going to let him feel, for one second, that I love him any less.
I am NOT going to judge him or make him feel condemned in any way.
I am NOT going try to "pressure" him to come back to his faith. I have always taught my children to question everything.
I am NOT going to let a single "well meaning" christian try to scare him back into his faith. If his faith was ever genuine, it will come back stronger than it ever was.
The only thing I am confident I will do, is maintain my relationship with my son where he feels that I love him unconditionally, and he can talk to me about anything.
And of course, I will pray for his wisdom and guidance through life.


  1. I think you handled this well and your relationship with your son will be stronger for it.

  2. What a beautiful reaction to your son. If my parents had been so kind about my proclamation that I only "believed" because I was told to by them, our relationship would be so much better.

    I applaud you, sir.

    1. THank you. He is the only "oldest" son I have.

  3. You're such a good daddy!! I love you!!

  4. Wow I'm so proud of you V! You're an amazing Dad!

  5. Wow... just wow!
    I discovered this blog this evening (from reddit). After reading some of the other posts you made this month I gotta say it's nice to see there's also sane theists left :) (I kinda forgot that with all these reddit/r/atheism threads of stupid stuff some Christian people manage to do)

    Definitely going to bookmark this and check it for new posts when I have the time.

    Thank you for being awesome like this!

  6. I'm agnostic, and I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am by your reaction. This is how I will act if my son decides to be Christian.

  7. I think you handled it better than many parents.

    One quibble. (This is a blog comment after all. :)

    You said, "If his faith was ever genuine, it will come back stronger than it ever was."

    I don't think that's true. There is no absolute faith, just as there is no absolute truth. Our conclusions change when the evidence or reasoning they are premised on changes. People once thought the world was flat. They had good reasons for thinking so. But just because we now know they were wrong does not mean their conclusions were not genuine.

    Similarly, we cannot judge someones faith to be less than genuine simply because they no longer hold it. In fact, we have even less room to judge, since faith requires less concrete evidence than other kinds of knowledge, making its claims even more fragile.

    Even Jesus acknowledged a few times that doubt was a part of faith. The evidence and premises that your son's faith was based on have shifted, therefore his conclusions have as well.

    Plus, to claim someone never "really" believed in the first place is subtly calling them a liar, and seems to me more about the claimants fear of his own doubts.

    Please, give your son the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his faith. :)

  8. God will punish him etc etc.? what the hell is wrong with people still believing something that surely doesnt exist. No scientific proof. Human just wants to search for this kind of insanity to feel better. Oh well, crazy people is what we still need in this world. Boy am i in the wrong place. "But hey, you cant hate on me, God made me this way!" Fucks sake.

  9. That's the type of Dad I want to be.

    I sometimes feel bad for my Christan parents, I think due to my atheism they feel like they are judged in church for not being good enough parents, so be on the lookout for that.

    1. I'm in the same boat.. Actually, I think my parents are pretty sure I'm an atheist, but I've never really come out. I think they are even afraid to ask because they know they won't like the answer.
      I think Victor's reaction was amazing. I wish I had that type of relationship with my parents. While they would still love me, I can see the "wear and tear" my not going to church has on them and it really hurts me as well. It's obvious by remarks made by my mom, that they blame themselves.

      My brother had a conversation with my mother when she was dropping him off at the train station a few years ago where she told him that faith was "all she had." (she was actually a nun for a few years before feeling like she was called to have a family.) My mom suffers from severe depression and told him that if she didn't have her faith, she probably would have killed herself long ago. After that, I knew that not telling them was a good choice. That same brother is also gay, but has only come out to my brother and I. He worries that my family will disown him. The depression he suffered for it through high school took a toll on him, and he feels like he can't introduce any of us to the special people in his life (if he has any). I wish I could be myself around my parents the way Victor allows his kids to be. (Sorry about the long post)

    2. Your parents are exactly the people I am writing to. Although most of my readers and commenters are atheists and agnostics, my message is to the christians that let a misguided "belief" ruin their lives, their family, and their happiness.

      It breaks my heart that people take the message of Jesus (which was love and understanding) and have turned it into a cult like message of judgement and condemnation. Hopefully, enough people will join me and share the real "good news" of Jesus.

  10. Hi Victor,
    It sounds as if you handled this conversation with your son in a very calm manner and you are obviously there for your son. I applaud you for that. We dont want to push our kids away from us.

    However as a christian, I have to say it is disturbing to me that you would say "I believe that God puts everyone right where He wants them. If He wants you to be a christian, you will be a christian. If He wants you to be an agnostic or atheist, guess what? You will be an atheist or agnostic. "

    There is NO WAY that God wants your son to be an agnostic or an atheist. Why would God actually want your son to choose to reject him?
    I'm sure you are familiar with Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

    That makes me wonder if you have accepted the secular world view that "all paths lead to God" which is not correct. If you are a christian who studies the scriptures then you are familiar with the scripture John 14:6 that says, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How does that lead people to believe that all paths lead to God???

    And yes, there is a Heaven and a hell and those who reject Jesus Christ will go to Hell. Jesus spoke more of hell than he did Heaven in the bible. Just because our society rejects this teaching does not mean that it does not exist. I would highly recommend that you watch the following video about the experience of Bill Weise.

    Yes, God is a loving, merciful God who loves ALL people. However, I think all to often people forget that He is also a jealous God and is a Just and Holy God. He will not accept people that reject His son.

    We are saved by grace through faith but you also have to be obedient to His word. Faith without works is dead. Jesus said if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. Yes, loving others is the most important commandment, but if you love God, then you will love Him enough to obey His word and you will not be ashamed of this.

    I am positive this post will result in lots of rude comments and people will be offended but that is just the way it is. As a christian I am obligated to speak the truth and to gently correct another believer who is not acting in accordance to God's Word, according to Galatians 6:1, "Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself."

    Its great that you choose to love your son and be understanding.I think it's important to meet him where he is in this time in his life. But you need to also pray for his salvation and continue to help lead him back to the right path. You can do this without being pushy. If you love him, you will correct him.

    If your son wants to understand Christianity and have a better understanding of WHY we believe what we do, I would highly recommend you visit Dr. Frank Turek's website which addresses this exact question.

    I will remember you and your son in my prayers.

    1. You could also argue that God does not give people free will. Acts 13:48 points to God choosing who believes and doesn't believe, Jeremiah 10:23 says that God chooses people's steps.. Also see these other bible verses.

      What ever happened to "Judge not?" I think it's God's call to determine where people go, and according to my upbringing, we are not to decide who goes to hell.

      I think this is a good example of how one can interpret the bible any way that they would like.

  11. You are awesome Victor.

    I have never told my parents that I am an atheist and I probably never will. I know they would react very poorly and I don't see a bit benefit to telling them. It would be nice if I could truly be myself around them, but it would cause them a ton of pain and might cause rifts in the family. Just doesn't seem worth it.

  12. I recently made a video with the story of my de-conversion from fundamentalist christian to atheism.

    It's one of the best things that ever happened to me!