Saturday, May 29, 2010

Loyalty to Adventist Culture

Fairly liberal Adventists become strict orthodox Adventists the minute I enter a room. While they may completely disregard or disagree with many of the SDA doctrines, it is interesting to watch how they all of a sudden will become offended if I say what they have always thought... (and at times even said themselves.)

I grew up in a home that was pretty liberal. We drank Dr. Pepper, ate meat, wore jewelry on occasion, went out to eat on Saturday, my dad was not a big fan of Ellen White and taught grace to almost the point of universalism. My parents hung around the "cool, edgy" Adventists who broke ranks on many of their doctrines. But now, whoa.... I dare not even mention that fact.

This same phenomenon occurs with other Adventist friends and family.

What is it? When I know perfectly well that an SDA doesn't believe in some of its beliefs (or even most of their unique ones) all of a sudden they become super Adventists when I am around.

What is even stranger to me is that some of these people I encounter were secular Adventists. One grew up in an Adventist community, he attends church, keeps Sabbath, refrains from all the SDA taboos, goes through all the motions for his family but has admitted that the doesn't even believe in God. Yet, since I left his culture, now defends it.

Another person, born and raised in an Adventist culture, doesn't believe in God, lives in complete opposition to morals and rules, has abandon everything Christian and yet now, suddenly, proudly calls herself Adventist. (Still doesn't believe in God though....)

So, therefore, I do not think this is loyalty to God.

Somehow I am now a threat because, instead of debating how some Adventist doctrine is not biblical with the label of Adventist, I debate how some Adventist doctrine is not biblical as a former Adventist.... Same people, same discussions, but now---I am the enemy. If this was a loyalty to God, the debate would still be the same. The ingredients haven't changed--only my label.

When I first left Adventism, zealous to preach the true gospel---I actually argued (in the same way as always) but I got the most revealing comments:

"I don't care HOW wrong Ellen White was, she had some good things to say and I'll never quit being an Adventists no matter anyone says about her--if they prove her to be the anti-christ himself."

"If the entire world were to fall apart and if every doctrine of the church were proven false--I would still believe in Adventism because of the Sabbath."

"Bloom where your planted, even if its not a great garden."

This is not even loyalty to Adventism. It is loyalty to a Adventist culture.

Because I left, that threatens Adventist understanding of the balance of nature. Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying in any way my family and friends have been intolerant, rude or mean-spirited. They have simply become more entrenched in---not their doctrinal beliefs-- but their culture.

My mother tends more towards a southern accent around certain people. My husband wore a cowboy hat and boots when he was in Europe. My daughter made certain she wore high heels and carried an umbrella the whole time she was in Seattle.

This is about our identity.

I once read that history proves the most effective way of getting someone to fight for your cause is appeal to their patriotism, their national pride. It has proven more effective than promises of booty, or money; it has even been more effective than appealing to religion. People will leave home and wife, parents and children and will risk their life or kill someone of their own religion (even their own brother) if you appeal to their patriotism!

When it comes to Adventist reaction to former SDAs, I think there is a similar instinct to preserve their culture. They have been raised with no other real identity than their Adventism. So, when I walk into a room---I have quite unconsciously challenged their worldview. I have emerged from Adventism intact, happy and most of all loving the Lord! That is not how it was supposed to happen. I am not playing by the SDA rules. When you leave, you give up the Lord.

It is so uncomfortable to know I make so many people I love dearly--so uncomfortable!

How does one get past this? Any suggestions other than returning to Adventism?


Anonymous said...

I can only say from my own experience that there is no way known to me. It is not easy, being in my place. My parent's give me the guilt trip many a time and say thing's like, "you left our church and it breaks our heart's".

What I do is remain silent because I have no clue what to say to that. First of all, it isn't true. How can one leave something they never really believed in the first place?

It is very interesting you mentioned how you know people in the SDA church whom don't believe in God. It makes sense to me now because more than once I have found myself saying, "she sounds like an atheist!"...and it's because she is! lol


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should hang out with another (non-SDA)croud or don't discuss Adventism with them at all. They will probably continue to see you as a threat to their status quo no matter what you say. You are no longer one of them and you know too much. They must fight to protect their narrow little worldview and you are now an outsider--an enemy of the Truth.

Anonymous said...

My SDA brother just sent me a scathing message online about how I shouldn't abreviate SDA. I have been doing this since for as long as I can remember! I learnt it from when I attended SDA school's. WHat a joke! He claims the church doesn't accept this anymore. Very funny.

dpm said...

So very true. I have to save this post. We've been officially out for 3 months and I'm seeing this in living color everytime I'm with SDAs.

Teresa Beem said...

It's hard to leave, but what joy you are going to find leaving all the prejudices, fears, suspicions! God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I left the SDA church 10 years ago. It wasn't an easy thing. At the beginning I was so angry at the church for deceptions on certain issues like 1844, EGW plagerism and downright lies... I was so appalled. So I wasn't exactly a safe person to be around for an SDA because I'd want to be in their face. Now I exercise alot more grace but still firmly speak the truth...just not in an argumentative way as before... some of my old SDA friends are now friends again, and have even gone to coffee w/ me to hear my story. Others will not allow me to speak one word against EGW and so they've cast me out, but it doesn't bother me like it use to. I think I feel Godly pity for them now. One day at a time...

Teresa Beem said...

I go back and forth about how to handle Adventists. At times I think the direct approach, the "you are WAY too smart to accept all this garbage as truth" route. Then I look at the beautiful people who ARE Adventists and I melt with compassion and almost want to accept them as true mainstream Christians... after all, its about Christian unity right? What a little dangerous heresy among friends?

In the end, I know for me a middle road is the best--truth in love.....