Opposition from Catholic Parents
Question: I left the Catholic Church some time ago because I just could no longer believe what I was told I was supposed to believe. I found the Truth in the Scriptures and was set free. I have a problem, and that is my parents. They are rigid, unquestioning Catholics and believe that Rome is never wrong. They have been aggressively badgering me to return to the Eucharist and I finally told them I no longer believed the way they do. I tried to speak to them lovingly and with compassion and understanding, but my efforts were to no avail. They were furious. What is my further responsibility to my parents, other than praying for them? I want to do what is right and Christ-like.
Answer: I appreciate what you're going through at the moment. Your letter reminded me of my own experience many years back. I became a Christian at about 15 years of age, and at one point my parents tried to force me to go to Mass the following Sunday. I replied that religion is a matter of personal conviction; if they forced me to go against my conscience, I would be constrained to leave home. It was not the brightest day of my life!
As your brother in the Lord, I encourage you to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and His Word. Do not make spiritual compromises for your parents' sake (even though, if you could, you would be very quick to do so to please them). Keep in mind the words of Jesus, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
On the other hand, and this is what I want to emphasize, your responsibility to your parents remains to honour and respect them always. When you speak to them it should always be with an attitude of respect. I thank God that you are already doing this. I encourage you to continue to show respect and reverence, no matter what their attitude might be, even if they are angry. Your parents love you and want what is best for you in their eyes. Take it that way and thank them for their concern.
Furthermore, I certainly would not advise you to avoid speaking to them. But, just as Peter tells the Christian woman who has an unbelieving husband, I recommend that you avoid theological debates and arguments at this point. Show them what Christianity is by your attitude and not with your preaching. By all means answer their questions about religion, but do not bring up the subject yourself, and at some point, make sure to underline the fact that you understand their motive, "Dad, Mum, I appreciate your concern for my soul. I disagree with you on certain things, but I am sure that you're telling me this because you love me. Thank you!"
May the Lord give you wisdom and strength in your difficult situation. May God have mercy on your parents - they may or may never come out of the Roman Catholic system, yet God can still save them through that simple faith in Christ Jesus. You may be His instrument to show them the beauty and perfection of our wonderful Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
© Dr Joseph Mizzi