Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Unequally Yoked

opposites-attract“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”2 Corinthians 6:14 (English Standard Version)

Growing up Seventh-Day Adventist, it was only natural to wonder about the nature of male/female relationships. Everybody growing up wonders about that, but for the SDA it was almost like sacred territory. We saw couples at church, but we were only privy to their public relationship with the Lord, not to their private relationship with each other. But you know how kids are. We talked, and it was pretty easy to place the couples we saw into three categories:

  1. The Ones Who Were Genuinely Happy
  2. The Ones Who Were Pretending
  3. The Ones Who Weren’t Even Pretending

The ones who weren’t even pretending were the ones who we never even saw together. Either the wife would bring the kids to church, the husband would bring the kids to church, or they would both be there, but never in the same place at the same time. These couples tended to be middle-aged with young children. The ones who were pretending could always be seen together, but they were never actually found communicating with each other. And those who were genuinely happy had a seamless nature to how they went about their business while at the same time tending to each other. Those couples were usually smiling, and had an ease to them that we could tell the other couples obviously envied.

But one thing that was hardly ever in question was that each couple we saw at church were in fact baptized Seventh-Day Adventists. While there may have been degrees of faith, the faith itself was never in doubt. Apparently this isn’t so clear-cut in some other religions, but I didn’t know anything about that then. I assumed that everyone who was married was “equally yoked,” meaning that they were of the same religion. I also assumed back then that when I grew up I, too, would marry a Seventh-Day Adventist and raise Seventh-Day Adventist children together with her. That assumption would prove false. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Unequally Yoked”

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home

“There is no past. Only present. And future.” -Theodicus

There’s a saying that you can never go home again, and I believe wholeheartedly in it. Not that you can’t go back to the physical place, but that you can’t go back to how you used to fit into that space. That’s important for a world of reasons, but the biggest one is that there is something to be said for nostalgia, once that distance has been forged, that connects us back to that time period, and to who we were at the time.

So many people have memories of their childhoods, be they good or bad, that they come back to in one way or another. For me that childhood was a solid mix of the good and the bad. But whichever sentiment clouds my memories, it’s safe to say that every single one of those thoughts involves my religious upbringing. In fact, just today I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” while at work, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was on the second verse.

My mother used to always ask me to go to church with her every single time I went back to Philadelphia for a visit. I could hear it in her voice, too, that emotion that said I was doing a horrible thing saying no, but there was also that feeling of sadness. And I knew that she wasn’t just asking me to go to church. She was wondering where she went wrong, that I would so fully abandon the church that pretty much raised me nearly as much as she herself did.

But what I wanted to tell her was that it was never her, that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home”

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: The Aftermath

I left home at age twenty-one, at a time when most people would have recognized me as an adult, but I was in turmoil. My whole life I knew one way to be, and that was Seventh-Day Adventist. Even in my late teens when I might have been qualified as being a backslider, I still identified with being SDA. It was all I had ever known, and breaking away from it was one of the most difficult things I had ever done.

At the time I felt like I needed to make that break for several reasons. I had been introduced to several different types of religions and I was confused. How could one truly be THE religion of God, one religion to rule them all (to paraphrase Lord of the Rings)? I took a History of Western Religions course my first year in college, and one of the requirements was to visit several places of worship, so in the span of one semester I attended a mosque, a temple, a Baptist church, an Episcopal church, and a Catholic church. Each of those visits taught me more about the world, more about myself, and more about my own view of God, and that view showed me the many facets of a God I originally thought only had one. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: The Aftermath”