On this website, you may have noticed that I keep assuming that you will be losing your friends/loved ones that are Seventh Day Adventists – at least for awhile. Is this true? Will you really? It all depends on your situation. To help you figure out how they will react to your deconversion, read my thoughts below.
You are the best judge
Seventh Day Adventists are not all the same. Some of them are more dedicated to their faith than others. Some only attend church on occasion, some attend church every week. Some do not attend activities/groups/classes outside of the Sabbath service, others do. All of this will effect how they react when you tell them. Seventh Day Adventists that get their personal identity from being a SDA will struggle the most with you choosing to leave. This is for the following reasons:
- Seventh Day Adventists are exclusive. This is very important to understand why they reject non-SDA’s. That article is one of the most important articles on this site; read it.
- If your family identity comes from the church, then you choosing to leave is going to make it very hard for you to fit in. As one reader wrote in, his brother told him; “now that you are no longer an Adventist, you will never really be one of us, because we are Adventists.” This is what they are. You will be an outsider to the family.
- Not only are you leaving something that is their personal identity, you will also be joining something that they have been trained to not like/not trust/avoid/reject. Think about it; you will now be joining “The World“. Think about all of the negative, bad things you have heard about “The World” in the Adventist church, and from your very own family! You are now all of those things. That doesn’t mean they won’t love you; but then again, it is arguable if they do. It is hard. But basically, you are now part of “The World”. How can light mix with darkness?
- If your family/friends get their identity from the church, then they probably do a lot with the church, and this is likely how they spend their “family” time. You can no longer do these things with them.
The most important point though, is that you have now joined “The World” and they will now view you in a very negative way. For more information on that, I suggest you read this article. It is aimed at young teenagers, but it is very relevant. But now; it is time to figure out how your family/friends will react.
It is like being in-love
If you haven’t been in-love, then you don’t know what it is like, and you often wonder if your crush/lust is love or not. But, once you have been in-love, then you know that it was love! In the same way, you are the best judge. Try and picture telling your friends/family. How do you expect them to react? Do you know they will react badly? Or do you think they will be supportive (even if initially shocked)? Will they desperately try to reconvert you?
Your loved ones could react in multiple ways. Here are some common ways they could react:
- They could be cool with it. Imagine how most Anglican fathers would react if their son deconverted; “well son, I think that Anglicanism is the right way in life, but if you believe this is right for you I support your decision.” They will then be very nice about – take a interest in your new life, without being vindictive about it.They will smile, be casual, not be paranoid, and not criticize you – both to your face, and behind your back. It would be treated like you simply changing jobs. This is the reaction that most religious parents have when their kids deconvert. It is cult-like churches that react differently, and part of the reason they are so dangerous and scary.
- They could be terrible about it. They will criticise you both to your face and behind your back, and say nasty, hurtful things about you. They will not want to hear about your new life, or if they do, they will be vindictive about it (e.g. instead of asking how your week was, they will ask how was your weekend, because they want to hear about what you did on Sabbath to focus on how you now break it).They will be both openly and passively aggressive. They will not look at you the same, they will be crying/complaining behind your back (to other church members), saying terrible things (ruining your reputation) and they will make it clear that you are no longer part of the family, but are estranged (even if they insist you not cut yourself off). In the beginning, they will try to reconvert you, they will try to track you down and send literature/people your way. They will eventually give up somewhat but continue to try and reconvert you, always bitter about your choice. Yet they will still want to see you/associate with you – even if it isn’t pleasant. This gives you hope for reconciliation, but it will be a hard road.
- Your less-close Adventist friends will probably start to act like you didn’t exist. They will just start to avoid you/disassociate themselves with you. Expect them to stop calling you, to stop seeing you and to avoid talking to you. You might have expected some of your less close Adventist friends to try and win you back – but they won’t. They’ll just pretend you don’t exist.In many ways though, this will be largely your doing – if you have been following the action plan then you have been disassociating yourself with them as much as possible. To be honest, you wouldn’t have been a great friend to them, so don’t expect them to be a great friend back. You can ignore them at events where you are forced to be around other Adventists (such as weddings and funerals). They may think you are rude/a jerk, but don’t let this make you feel bad. You need to cut yourself off to regain your mind/non-SDA identity and to move on from the exclusive culture.
- If you are a teenager or a young adult, they could even kick you out. This is usually kept for the more extreme offenses, such as if you openly violate principles they feel strongly about or if you are not diplomatic about your beliefs.If you want to continue living at home, you may not be able to bring friends around during Sabbath (or home full stop), you may not be able to have your boyfriend stay the night, you may not be able to wear jewellery around the house or even keep it there. If you live away from home, they may choose to cut you from their life. This is a very extreme response but it is not unheard of.
Those are just 4 ways that they could react. One thing to keep in mind; if you are diplomatic, nice, and reach out, it will get better with time. It may take years (it has taken years for me to reconcile with my family, and things are still tense). After awhile, it is probably only going to get better, not worse. Of course, it is completely up to you as to whether you want to reconcile this relationship, and that is something I can’t help you with.
Whether you think the church is a cult or not, this is very relevant.