What should I do when family members disagree with my religious beliefs?

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What should I do when family members disagree with my religious beliefs?

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We understand how challenging it can be when there are strong, but differing, religious convictions within a household. Jesus Christ forewarned Christians that following God's way of life might well trigger this kind of painful conflict (Matthew 10:34-37). At the same time, a Christian should work to maintain as positive a family relationship as possible. Such a situation calls for love, understanding and graciousness. In most situations, Christians who conduct themselves this way find that conflicts and attitudes soften with the passing of time.

Many people erroneously believe that Christ would have them press their convictions on those around them. But the apostle Peter's admonition is to be ready to give an answer "to everyone who asks," doing it with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). If someone is not interested or antagonistic, we should not press our beliefs on them.

Note this prophecy about how Christ conducted Himself: "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench" (Matthew 12:20). That is, He would not force His way on anyone—even when doing so would take no more effort than to break a reed that was already bent or to extinguish a fire that was already about to go out.

It wasn't then time for God to establish His Kingdom. It still isn't. God has a plan for all people, but He doesn't call everyone to understand His truth at the same time and, of course, there is no reason for boasting for those called first (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Treat those around you with respect and kindness, not criticizing their religious convictions. Do not attempt to persuade them that they are wrong or that you are right. It is up to God to call them to understanding in His time (John 6:44). Until He does, they will likely receive any "preaching" poorly—perhaps even with hostility. Remember that the example set by a Christian is a priceless service to all who know him or her (Matthew 5:13-16).

Please bear in mind that those who do not understand what you do would naturally have concerns about any changes you are making to your religious beliefs and practices. Although you do not share their convictions, you can appreciate and respect their concern. Regularly ask God for wisdom and guidance to meet the daily challenges that come your way. We recommend you read our brochures Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension and Making Life Work, which contain several sections about creating and maintaining healthy family relationships.