Quick disclaimer; this article is part of a series on the steps to “coming out” publicly from the church. It is aimed at people who come from exclusive backgrounds (usually from conservative churches) and this advice will not apply to all churches. If this article does apply to you, then read on and find out some tips for moving out of a Seventh Day Adventist household.
Is this really necessary?
If you live in a household with other SDA’s, then before you publicly “come out” you are going to need to move out. Why? Well, the truth of the matter is that it is very important to have a positive home environment. Now that you have joined “the world” you are going to face enormously negative pressure/words. It is especially scary if they are your family, because naturally we want our parents/family to be proud of us. They are going to be bitterly disappointed in you, and it is painful to be blatantly reminded of that every day, let alone the other cruel things that will be said to you.
You will run the strong risk of slipping into depression, or pretending to convert just to relieve the pressure. But be wary; if you “go-back” they will be watching you even closer, and it will become harder to do these like breaking the Sabbath without being caught. But as I said in the guide, I don’t intend on spending a lot of time convincing you; its up to you how you feel.
But I don’t have the money/resources?
When I decided to leave the church, I did not have money to move out away from my Adventist household. It took me about 2 years to become financially secure that I could move out. I held off for 2 whole years before I left, but it was worth it! Here is what you need to do:
- If you live at your parents house, figure out how much rent will cost in your local area. Do not scrimp/save to the point that you pick a bad area of town to live in. You need to keep yourself safe!
- Figure out if you are willing to get roommates or not, and think about how many you are willing to live with. It is much cheaper to move in with other people. If you are young, you are probably going to have to do this. It goes without saying that these people need to be non-Adventists.
- Whether you live with Adventist friends or family, you will need to figure out the local rental market. How hard is it to find a new place? Do new places come up all the time, or do they come up at a particular time (college towns have most of their rental properties go up in spring or early summer).
- Figure out how much money you need to live off each week. There are a lot of guides to help you figure this out – just Google it. Be sure to budget in backup money, and if you live in the USA make sure you budget for health insurance! If you currently room with other Adventists, your weekly budget will probably not change a lot.
- Get a job that will pay for your weekly expenses. If your expenses are going to go up, get extra hours at work or find a second job. Make sure you will leave and be financially independent.
- Look at other extras in your life. Do you currently borrow cars from your parents or your friends? If so, then you will need to purchase a car of your own before you move out. Don’t rely on public transport if it is unreliable in your city. Even if you have to wait a few months to save up enough money for a car, it is worth it. When you move out, you want to be completely financially secure so you do not have to seek help from your Adventist social network so that you don’t owe them anything.
What about my lease?
If you are currently tied into a lease with other Seventh Day Adventists, then that complicates things a little. You have two options in this case:
- You could break your lease early and move out
- Wait until your lease expires, and then move out
My personal suggestion is to wait until your lease expires. Why? Well, you want to move out before you “come out”. That way you can escape the emotional pressure at your own place. So, if you want to break your lease, they are going to want to know why, and it will look very suspicious that you want to break your lease for two reasons:
- They will likely be personally offended that you want to leave if you don’t have a good excuse. No one likes to be rejected. If you don’t get along with them already, then this matters a lot less.
- If you are going to move in with non-Adventists, they might very well want to know why you would choose to break your lease with them, to move in with worldly people.
Keep in mind, that what you do will spread within the church. If they are offended, they will tell their friends at church who will then tell their friends. So it is imperative that you do your best to not throw suspicion onto yourself. The problem though is that this is suspicious – why would you move into a house where people drink, swear and live in sin?
I can’t think of many good excuses, but here is one
One excuse you could potentially use – and this is a bad one – is that you could claim that you are moving in with these non-Adventists because you want to be a good influence on them. To do this, you will need to move in with non-SDA friends. Now, this is not full-proof; obviously, they are going to accuse you of missionary friendship – i.e. being their friend so that you can convert them to the SDA church. SDA’s are particularly against this because they are acutely aware that you run the strong risk of being influenced by the world. They might also ask you questions such as “why would light mix with darkness?” And discourage these friendships.
The truth is there is no good answer to this. If they are asking you these questions, then it will be tough to give an answer that will satisfy them; but you can just stick to your guns. You can say, “I know, and I am not friends with them just to convert them. Jesus was friends with people from the world. I think that my presence will be a good influence on them, I think that this is the right thing to do.” While they will disagree with you, this answer is not suspicious; you simply sound like an idealist. If you are confident and stick to this line of thought, then you should be able to get out of your lease in-tact (on the condition you pay it out and don’t offend your friends by leaving, of course). It would however be much simpler to simply wait until your lease is up, and then say that you’ve decided to try something new.
What if my parents object?
If you currently live with your parents, then they may be confused as to why you would move out; especially if you are going to move in with non-Adventists. Before you announce to them that you are going to move out, you will need a cover story. If you are moving out with non-Adventists, you are going to have a tougher time coming up with a good cover story.
It is easier if you move into a Christian household, so look for Christian roommates. You can then use the excuse that I talked about in the section above. It is also easier if you move in with friends, as this is a plausible reason why you might want to leave. If you choose to move into your own unit, then there are lots of reasons you can come up with.
As mentioned earlier, moving out is expensive. A lot of Adventist mothers cling very tightly to their children, as families are very important in the SDA world. As such, while you are looking for a job/saving up enough money, use this time wisely. Start dropping in hints that you are looking to leave. Drop things like this into conversations randomly:
- “You know Lisa? I think she has learned a lot from moving out, it has been good for her.”
- “Do you think that moving out is a good idea?”
- “Jack seems to have liked moving out.”
- Just little things like that. Make moving out part of the discussion. If asked if you want to move out, try to not get nervous/scared and immediately deny it. Say something like, “I don’t know. I have been thinking about it. Still not sure though.”
- Are you going to college or university?
Are you due to go to college or university and moving into a dorm? If so, then don’t worry about finding a house to live in, because you have accommodation already – your dorm room! One thing though; you will need accommodation over the summer. Most kids go home to their parents during this time; you won’t have this luxury. Most colleges/universities have accommodation available during the summer. You will need to act quick though; it is usually limited on a first-come-first-serve basis. As soon as you can, speak to someone in the admin at your university/college and find out more information on how to secure your spot now.
Please help me, I come from an offshoot sect, and I don’t know where to begin!
Unfortunately, if you grew up with an offshoot sect that was extremely exclusive, you could very well not know how to look after yourself. Growing up in an extreme cult is very damaging and you will not know how to survive in the “real world” as you have not been taught basic life-skills. In the case of this, I suggest that as soon as you can, seek out a counselor, who will then refer you onto a psychologist.
And for fun, I leave you with one of my favourite inside-joke Adventist videos! It turns out that a committee nominating another committee (that votes on volunteers) is a legitimate practice, done to avoid corruption.