August 18, 2018

Open Mic at the iMonk Cafe: How Theology Changed Relationships

openmicUPDATE II: And now the announcement is that this thread means I believe all theology is equally true. See, I 1) shouldn’t be letting you people tell your stories at all. It’s rejoicing in sin. 2) I should be preaching to all of you because right belief is the answer to everything. 3) and then I should be rejoicing that you all never return to this site again. But at least I witnessed to you.

God forbid that we act like people actually matter. Lord, save us from having to listen to someone’s pain. Just SHUT UP and SHOW ME YOUR CONFESSION. Right?

I’m looking for stories; stories of how relationships were changed for the worse because of theology.
I want commenters to tell- briefly- their stories of how theology caused stress, conflict, change, separation and distance in relationships with spouses, family members, parents, friends, co-workers and/or fellow Christians.

I’m not interested in changes from Christian to atheist, etc. Or in announcing you were gay. I want to know how someone becoming Calvinist changed your relationship. How did someone’s charismatic practices cause rejection? How did your family change their treatment of you when you left the Baptist denomination and became Orthodox? How does a creationist treat a Christian co-worker who is an evolutionist? How did your move to or from Catholicism affect your marriage? Are there people who stopped speaking to you or started evangelizing you when you changed your theology or practice?

That’s the sort of stories I’m looking for. With 40% of Americans changing religions and many moving to and from various theological positions, there’s bound to be a lot of these. Share them. Briefly. In the comments.


  1. I grew Baptist/Evangelical, even a little methodist in there for a while. While I was away at college my parents became covenantal/reformed/patriarchal. The covenantal and reformed aspects of their new studies eventually led me to the Anglican church, which stirred no warnings for them (exept the fact that they use crucifixes). But in the last couple of years my (now) husband and I have been seriously studying and considering the Catholic faith. I started a blog to kind of get out the ideas and things I’d been studying and hopefully get some positive input. Well, someone in my family found my blog and showed our parents – who are very anti-catholic. They have not once called to ask me about it, but have gone to my other siblings and talked to them (I had previously opened the subject with a few of my siblings because I wanted them to know where I was at as I had always had a very spiritually deep relationship with them). My parents have still never reached out to find out if I am just interested in the church or interested in joining the church… but for Christmas this last year, before I got on the plane, I was handed a card with the book “More Than A Carpenter’s Son” and the words “I hope you find Jesus this year and don’t get caught up in the trappings of religion.” Sadly, I went from being “the most spiritually mature of all the children” as a 19 year old to being the last in the bucket at 22.

    While my faith was being drawn ever more more towards the authority of the church, my parents’ were becoming more towards the authority of the father. They essentially believe, now, that the father is basically God in family and that if my father tells me not to do something, I have to obey WITHOUT QUESTION. Respect necessarily equals obedience. They didn’t like my boyfriend (now husband) because he had different theological beliefs (namely, that he doesn’t belief the Father has that kind of authority throughout the child’s – specifically single daughter’s – life). We got married in June. Of my family of 9 only three of us were there, and my parents refused to come.

    And it’s hard. The difference of beliefs is SO hard. The whole situation with my Dad is actually one of the major things that threw me into the steady arms of the Catholic Church. Daily I pray that I will only love my dad more and that there will be no anger or bitterness towards him. And I think that is the most important part of being hurt. Forgiveness. True, honest, continual forgiveness.

    • Michelle,

      Your story is moving. I recently converted to Catholicism with reluctant acceptance from my own parents. I told them very early – the day after I decided to convert. I could tell my dad wanted mostly to debate the theology while my mom took it with a quiet sadness. You can read my “Telling the Family” post for more detail:

      My relationship with my parents has complicated in some ways, as was made clear by a recent trip we made together to attend the Catholic baptisms of my Catholic brother’s children. I think they try to be as supportive as possible, but “there are some things that just don’t transmit right”, as my brother described. Theology debates are hard when one side has assumed the role of teacher to student for 18 years, y’know? 😉

      For me it has been important to let my parents know how grateful I am for my Evangelical upbringing – I was one of the most faithful and Scripturally-aware candidates in my RCIA class. And to explain to them that my conversion was not about refuting any of the faith of my childhood and upbringing, but about fulfilling that faith in my own way – the way of the Church.

      Prayers, luck, and peace be with you.

  2. I get the feeling I run with a different crowd than some others who have converted to Catholicism. My family has been supportive – my wife, my parents, and all my available siblings sat thru my 3-hour Confirmation during Easter Vigil! My wife understands and accepts my desire to baptize our baby, and never gives me any flak for any of my Catholic obligations. She has come along to some of our parish “Service Opportunities” and has always been respectful of the Church, even when she questions its traditions.

    Also, I’m still close friends with everyone at our post-Evangelical “Emerging” church – which I still attend with my wife, though I don’t receive communion there. (She very rarely comes to Mass with me because she finds the liturgy boring) In fact, the Emerging pastor also came to my Confirmation! He has seemed nearly as excited as I am about the whole process – I think he enjoys having a Roman Catholic representative in the church discussions. What’s more, my wife and I maintained roles on the church Leadership team for a couple of years including my conversion. (I’m always the one calling for more liturgical or Traditional changes in the church. 😉

    Every once in a while, some of my Protestant or Evangelical friends or family will press a hot theological button in my mind, but I try to make my own comments or discussion about my personal faith journey, and try not to preach or proselytize.

    From the comments on this thread, I think I’ll stick to the rule of keeping my mouth largely shut for the first three years; which is coincidentally enough time to finish my bachelor’s in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University! For now I’ll be sure to check out JPII’s ‘That They May Be One’ … so thanks to all Catholics here for the tips!


    • Have Catholics ever given you flak for maintaining your relationship with the Protestant church, especially sitting on their leadership team?

      • No … not yet?

        I think a large part of that is because they know that my wife and I’s relationships to our Protestant community is such a big part of her faith. She isn’t theologically opposed to the Catholic Church, but she never had any real faith until we started going to this certain Protestant church.

        But acting in a leadership role there is one of the few subjects where I feel a tinge in my faith. I must remember to bring it up at Confession.

  3. My grandmother was Catholic and my grandfather was Protestant. My grandfather forbid my grandmother from practicing her Catholicism. The theological dispute was so intense that my father decided at a young age to forgo organized religion and has never been baptized.

    My wife’s family is Mormon. When we got married I was a fairly new Christian contemplating Catholicism and my wife was unsure what she believed. Given this diversity of opinion, finding a church to marry us was impossible. We ended up getting hitched by a justice of the peace.

    Now I’m a protestant with a Catholic leaning spirituality (I still listen to EWTN podcasts). My wife is still unsure, but often falls back on Mormon theology. This isn’t the forum to go into the Christian/Mormon divide, so I’ll just say things are difficult. I really want to practice my Christianity with my wife, attend Church with my wife, and have a Christian marriage with my wife, but theologically that’s impossible. I have delayed joining a church in the hope we could find one together. Now I’m looking for one by myself.

  4. …It’s very interesting to read the comments on a thread that is monitoring (my nice word) this comment thread.

    Blog eisegesis? I want to say it makes me wonder what thread they’re reading, but I’m used to it by now.

  5. One of the things Christians like to use to disparage other religions such as Islam is to poitn out how people will get disowned and rejected if they leave Islam, whereas only Christians lvoe unconditionally.

    Lots of people here have commented that they have been disowned and rejected for leaving a certain theology, so it appears we as Christians don’t have room to put down other religions since we do the same thing.

  6. From reading the stories, it seems to me that the larger portion is from people who have joined or rejoined Roman Catholicism. While there is so much to appreciate in the church (I’ve attended Catholic school myself for six years), those of us outside of it just cannot deal with the extra-biblical things, not on our life.

    We will NOT be able to find unity without being diligent about Bible study and theology. We can’t get around it. ” Theology ” is NOT a dirty word. “Theologian” is NOT a dirty word. I think i-monk is making a real contribution. Let’s have decent discussion, as we are. It is good.

    And I just wanted to mention the Book of Concord, the Lutheran confessions again. Are there people who really don’t think it’s a great collection of documents (Bible based documents) ? Read the new “reader’s edition” from Concordia Publishing House.

    • You’re thoughts are appreciated, but may be valued more on another thread. Let’s keep this a safe environment for opening up. It’s too easy to use these confessions as tinder for a flame war – and while I don’t think you intend to start one, it escalates all too easily. Peace.

    • Brigitte,

      The main reason that Roman Catholicism plays such a large role in these stories is that the gap between the Evangelicals and the Catholics is one of the largest in America. If there were more Orthodox, there probably would just as many stories about them.

      I do miss the friendships that I might have found as a Baptist, but I treasure the inner peace that I found there. There are many things that I regret about the divide. But, I will not reject the path that God has placed my feet upon.

      Peace and God’s blessing upon you.

  7. I am merely suggesting that for unity’s sake we want to dig more deeply theologically, not less deeply.
    Pax Domini to all, no problem. 🙂