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?