Thursday, February 24, 2011

Between Family and Beliefs

I have an LDS friend here in Cincinnati who is very outspoken about his beliefs regarding gay marriage. He sends out mass emails on the subject, attends rallies that support the traditional family structure, and writes blogs about the subject matter. He was even interviewed at one of the rallies he attended, and he told the journalist that he had a gay brother but he was still fighting against gay marriage. The gay brother found out about the interview, got mad, and, needless to say, stopped talking to my friend.

Meanwhile, I myself find myself occasionally getting into arguments with my parents. For example, they donate considerable amounts of money to a conservative Christian group that refuses to hire Mormons because they don't fit the group's definition of Christian. I should have probably just brought up that fact and then let it go (although even bringing it up made my mother raving mad). But I was a bit surprised that my parents defended this bigoted group, so I kept arguing with my mother about it.

I think many of us are involved in things that can cause conflict within the family. Where do we draw the line on our involvement? Do we go all-out and get into full-blown arguments and attend rallies that directly attack our family members? In other words, do we put our causes, often good causes, and place them ahead of our family relationships? If we want to have strong family relationships, we need to make those relationships a priority.

My mom's family sets a good example. Two of her siblings are not active in the LDS church. One is what I'd call a fundamentalist Christian (not sure of the denomination). The other went inactive--although I hear he's attending church now. Despite the differences in belief, the family is still close-knit. It hasn't torn the family apart like it could have. And that, I believe, is a good thing. Family is, after all, more important than causes.


Katrina said...

I agree with you. I think sometimes we do need to take a step back and see if our beliefs and causes are negatively impacting our family relationships.

As for our mothers' family, though the differences you mention definitely could have led to schisms and don't (currently), part of that is due to the fact that the aforementioned "fundamentalist" family does their utmost to not take offense and to turn the other cheek. (Grandma never EVER stops giving each of them a hard time about not being Mormon, but they just patiently bear it.) As for being close-knit, I'm only being honest when I say it depends on who you talk to and of whom you are speaking. I think it definitely helps that most of them are spread far and wide and aren't all trying to live in harmony in the Salt Lake valley. :) Of course, the fact that my father's family is truly an amazing example of a close-knit family (and most of them live in UT too)gives me a different perspective here.

Tim said...

You're right, of course. I guess the close-knit was in reference to my parents, the grandparents, and the two youngest siblings. Of course it helps that most of them still live in Salt Lake. And it helps that the two youngest are great people who value their family relationships enough to put up with their mother.

Jenni said...

As per that side of the family that we all share ;)
I think there are a lot of good, patient people. Yep, grandma is not terribly accepting of the choice some of her kids have made in 'leaving the fold'. Her son--my dad--about blew a gasket when I DATED a guy who was Lutheran (and did it again when my little sister recently started *casually* dating a Presbyterian). I think a lot of the tolerance comes from the 'black sheep' themselves at least as pertains to grandma.
I think the rest of us are wise enough--and yeah, spread out enough--to focus on the fact that we're family over anyone's particular religious (or medical, or scholastic) preferences. Grandma almost died when my mom had a homebirth too. ;)

I think what it comes down to is that we care about our families. Of course that is good! And then we also care about our beliefs, so it's only natural to want others to share's the same reason we serve missions--to share the truths that we hold dear with others (whom we also hold dear). Whether those beliefs are religious or political or whatever else, it's very natural to want to share what we hold dear with those we love. Unfortunately, with things like politics, there isn't much that's easy to sort out. My parents know that I differ from them quite substantially on political issues. We usually just don't talk about it. I do talk with my siblings, and most of them seem to be leaning my direction. My dad says it's because we're young and still idealists, and that when we get old we'll be cynics like him. (His words, not mine!!!)

Cougarg said...

In the last two years, my relationship with my dad has gotten a lot better. He has chosen to leave "the fold" as it were, and I've had a hard time with that for close to ten years. But now things are better, because I loosened up. Not that I neccessarily accept his choices, but because I don't let that get in the way anymore. We're planning on going camping together for the first time in years, something we did all the time growing up.