Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems
I know I have discussed this subject in previous posts, either in posts by myself or excerpts by other people, and sometimes only indirectly, such as…
The Isolating Power of Family-Centered Language (How churches exclude singles and the childless) by E A Dause
(Link): Study: People today living alone more than ever before
(Link): Neither Fully Widow Nor Fully Wife – Married People Will Be Single Again
(Link): Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died
(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely
(Link): The Walking Dead television series – Virginity and Family – One of TV’s Most Popular Adult Characters is a Virgin and Single And Most Are Okay With That
(Link): What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage
But I wanted to address another angle to this.
I have in the past heard of Muslims who convert to Christianity and are then ostracized by their family of origin.
A former American Muslim found himself in that very situation and recently gave an interview on a Christian television program, which you can watch here; his family have nothing to do with him any longer because he converted to Christianity:
(Link): A Journey From Islam
Author and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi shares about his dramatic conversion to Christianity.
You can also watch a copy of the video here:
(Link): A Journey from Islam, on 700 Club’s site
Here are a few additional resources on this topic, with more comments by me below this assortment of links and excerpts:
Testimonies of Muslims who became Christians
(Link): Muslims converts face ostracism in France
(“Zee News,” February 6, 2007)
Paris, France – Muslims are converting to Christianity in their thousands in France but face exclusion from their families and even death threats.
(Link): Kurdish Converts to Christianity Ostracised By Society and Family
(Link): CARING FOR THE MUSLIM CONVERT.
(Link): Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity goes into hiding
(Link): When Muslims Convert
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
In the Islamic world, there is a broad consensus, both popular and scholarly, that apostates deserve to be killed. A rich theological and intellectual tradition, stretching as far back as Muhammad and his companions, supports this position.
Though official proceedings against those who reject Islam are fairly rare–in part, no doubt, because most keep their conversion a closely held secret–apostasy is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Comoros, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.1 It is also illegal in Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar.
… The most common dangers faced by Muslim apostates come from their own families.
At a recent evangelical convention in Falls Church, Virginia, a couple of female converts from Islam told a reporter about their fears as new Christians. One woman said that when her family finds out, “I know they’re going to disown me if they don’t kill me.”
The second woman had similar fears. “My brothers haven’t spoken to me in the last couple of years, and that was only because I married an American,” she said. “Can you imagine what they would do if they found out I was a Christian?”
…. Roy Oksnevad, a missionary with the Evangelical Free Church in Minneapolis, tells of a Turkish convert whose brother, an ultra-conservative imam who also owns a lucrative carpet and jewelry business, threatened to have him killed if he ever returned to Turkey.
A Farsi-speaking pastor [name withheld by request] in Oakton, Virginia, told the Washington Times, “I’ve seen some people who’ve come from Iran to the United States to persecute, if not kill, in order to bring back their relatives to Islam.”
Even when apostates do not face physical danger from their families, they are often ostracized. This experience is not unique to Muslims, of course; it is a fact of life for many people who convert out of the faith into which they were born.
But for Muslim apostates, the loss of family and community support can carry a heavy price, especially if they are immigrants. If they lose their livelihoods or the means to maintain themselves financially, they can be forced to return to their home countries–and that can amount to a death sentence.
Many conservative Christians are emphasizing the traditional family unit far too much.
Not only are many adults today staying single indefinitely or past their late 20s, and not only do some become widows or get divorced, but there are people who are ostracized and cut off from their family of origin for accepting Jesus Christ.
I wonder what churches near to where these former Muslims (who convert to Christianity), whether in the USA or overseas, do to help these individuals, now that they are totally alone, now that their biological families have rejected them?
And I don’t mean just financial help, but, do the Christians in these churches adopt these new converts as new family?
Do Christians invite these former- Muslims- now- Christians to their homes weekly or nightly for dinner, or invite them over for holidays?
The world can be a very lonely, difficult place if one has no spouse and no flesh and blood family to turn to, but many Christians, especially in the United States, seem to forget that.
There are people in the world who walk to Christ which means they are walking away from their only support systems they have ever known – their families: their mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, grandparents.
Will American Christians stop obsessing over traditional marriage, parenting, and the “nuclear family,” to reach out to these types of people who give up everything to follow Jesus?
Judging by the American church’s response to American- born individuals who are single, those who never-married, or who are divorced or widowed, my guess is sadly, no.
One of the best things you can do for someone else is to offer yourself, your time, and your companionship. Some people are lonely and hurting and have nobody to turn to and could use the friendship, a shoulder to cry on, and encouragement.
But your married Christians who have children, the ones who attend mega churches, seeker friendly churches, evangelical, Reformed, and Southern Baptist churches, only hang out with other married with children couples, and they continue to market self-absorbed programs and sermons about how each individual can achieve his vision or dreams in life, how a person can have a better marriage, and be his or her “all.”
Truly, these are the concerns of people who have no serious challenges in life. These sermons and ministries are irrelevant to 50% or more of the U.S. population.
If you are a middle class husband and father living in the American ‘burbs, and you feel that weekly sermons about how to “reach your potential” or “how to have a hot marital sex life” are relevant, applicable to all (or most), or of equal concern to all, may I suggest you may be living in a bubble and need to realize there are people out there that are not as fortunate as yourself?
You have what is called “rich people’s problems,” also known as “white people problems,” or “first world problems.” Visit the (Link): First World Problems site to see (humorous) examples.
I can’t imagine how churches offering potlucks for middle class, married couples with children, or offering another ‘ten steps to a great marriage’ sermon series is going to aid, comfort, or help people like the 25 year old single Muslim man who just left all he had to follow Jesus, or the widower who is living alone at 72 years of age, or the never-married adult who is 36 years old.
I will leave you with the words of Christ:
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And, from Matthew 12,
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.
47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
September 2015 edit:
Muslim refugees express their loneliness being without families on Eid al-Adha
(Link): The loneliness of Eid al-Adha for refugees
Muslims across the world are marking Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.
This is the day when families get together and have a big celebration, but many Muslim refugees who have recently arrived in Austria say this day makes them feel lonely, as it reminds them of their families they left behind.
Zamir Rizoyi is an Afghan refugee who is now staying in a camp in Vienna. He told the BBC how he felt to be far from home on what is usually a special day.
Related posts this blog
(Link): Unmarried America: How Single Adults Are Changing the Face of the U.S. and What It Means for the Church by R. Hurst
(Link): Church Is a Family, Not an Event by K. Kandiah
(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High? (Christians Who Idolize the Family) (article)
(Link): This Headline Has My Fellow Conservatives In A Tizzy, but It Should Not: Just 18% of US households are ‘nuclear families’ with a married couple and children, down from 40% since 1970s and the lowest since 1959
(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t
(Link): Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? by S. Hamaker
(Link): Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church? by Gina Dalfonzo
(Link): What Churches Should Do for Singles by T. Campolo