Can somebody who is very religious give me insight

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MidwestMom, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Some know that my son that we adopted at age six from Hong Kong has found a Christian Fundamentalist wife, become a very extreme Fundamentalist (Promise Keepers sort--the type who thinks divorce is always wrong and the man is in charge and that you need to spank your kids). Since going down this religious path and with this woman, who is joined at his hip, he has all but dumped our family. We range from non-Christians to mild Christians. We are not religious and aren't going to change for him. However, he has never asked us to. He has never been abused and we had a good relationship up until two years ago. Can anyone explain what might be going on in his head? Is he maybe thinking that he is in God's family now? He does see his wife's family a lot, but they are also very religious with a lot of preachers in it. This is very hurtful to me. I love my son, but he basically won't talk about anything, and he never calls anybody anymore. His siblings are furious at him. Any ideas? Is it the degree of his religion? I have to emphasis that this goes way beyond normal Christianity. He believes the BIble is the literal Word (although the Bible isn't literal). He judges everyone by his own standards...and his whole life seems to be the Bible and his wife. I pray they have no children as I am so afraid he'll spank an infant--I've read that Dobson believes in "training" infants by any rate, they have no kids yet and aren't sure they want Do you think he is being told not to see his family because we are heathens?
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't think your son's situation has anything to do with God. I don't know what it is, but it's not God. It sounds more like an excuse. I mean, it's pretty hard to argue with God. That's why it works so well for so many people.

    I hope that you will not continue to doubt yourself. Perhaps one day you will learn what is behind this, but so long as he continues to hide behind religion, you won't get the true story from him.
  3. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    I remember this story from you. I know it hurts you but I also know it is out of your hands.
    even Christ hung out with unbelievers, but he made them change their but he never ignored his mother.
    if he is 30 and is letting others control him that is sad. is he a better person because he is with them? is he a law abiding citizen? if so I think I would just be happy he is not in trouble and that HE is happy.

    there are many reasons people join cultlike situations. remind yourself he is alive because of your input over his young years.
  4. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    I remember your story about your son very well. I also remembered we agreed to disagree about adoption issues. You may not like my response, but since no one else has yet mentioned it, I will.

    I think what he is doing is related to adoption. I believe adoption is a life long process. That does not mean that the the adopted person is doing poorly, but that "it" is always there. I know it is for my kids, especially my son. Often adopted persons are looking for something to complete themselves. There are many ways to do this---searching for a birthparent is one way; having a biological child is another; being "against" adoption is another (CUB counts among their members adoptees); and so is joining a cult like religion that controls everything---that is the ultimate "belonging," to give up one's family and free will. What is REALLY sad for your son is you are the second family he has given up, and you want to continue to have a relationship.

    For me, the goal is to keep "it" from becoming destructive to my children. I am not religious but when I realized my ex-difficult child was so inclined, I really got behind his being an Episcopalian. My husband was really skeptical, being even less religious than I am, but he quickly saw the point of "better an Episcopalian than a Moonie"---an adopted child who is drawn to religion is particularly vulnerable to cult-like experiences in my opinion. Notice I did not say "adopted persons" My daughter is irreligious as one would predict a child raised in our home to be--and I do not worry she will join a cult. She is not "drawn to religion" however but your son may have been for a long time before he actually joined this group by way of marriage.

    Because of what I saw, ex-difficult child was baptized and confirmed at 13 by his own choice and feels he "belongs" to his church. They certainly claim him and do not discriminate against his irreligious parents. I see his adoption concerns emerge in his strong need to get to Korea last summer, his thinking about searching (which will be a lot tougher for him than a US adoptee) and his studying Korean formally. I am very happy that the "missing part" currently has to do with Korean culture---that is healthier than some other things he could be doing right now.

    I do not think anything good about a religion that separates a son from his mother who loves him. What mainstream faith teaches that? None I can think of...Cults always control access to the outside world for good cause if you understand their purposes. So do certain closed religious communities, but they are not cults, and their members may leave, but if they do, they are no longer members of the faith. this is what distinguishes Old Order Amish from a cult in my opinion.

    I hope your son frees himself and comes back to his family. I can only imagine how painful this must be. I wish you the very best...

  5. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    I guess your son forgot about the Commandment that admonishes us to "Honor your mother and father".

    I agree that this has nothing to do with 'real faith' ...

    I'm sorry this hurts you so.

    I have read several of James Dobsons books on parenting. I do not believe he would ever - ever - ever endorse spanking an infant. Ever. While I don't always agree with some of his political ideologies ... I always founds his parenting advise to be sound.

    Do you happen to know what church he attends?
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think this issue is completely difficult child centered. Might even be less of the wife's fault than you currently think.

    If this is an extreme church, been there done that with my own Mom, well they usually attract people who crave to be a part of something they see as "special", or apart from everyone else so they themselves can also feel special. Whether it's to feel Better than others, or just apart from others.

    My Mom will fall for this set up every single time, while all it does for me is to completely turn me off. We are opposites in personality makeup.

    Wife probably isn't helping much, but he's making his own decisions.

    Eventually, sometimes years later, dear ol' Mom will come to her senses until another such church strikes her fancy. She's just recently come to her senses about one of the most fanatical churches I've come across in a long time. Took her 20 yrs. This one had her but good.

    The point I'm trying to make is, something about the church/religion/ whatever is forfilling a need of difficult child's. It could've been triggered by the adoption, no matter that he had a wonderful life and loving caring parents. But my mother wasn't adopted and STILL has this sort of issue but bad. It's part of her personality makeup.

    As far as I'm concerned, it's just as bad as a drug addiction. Almost the same mentality. While in the midst of religious/or whatever fevor you can't reach them.

    Lucky me, husband also has this personality. I keep him as far away from organized religions as possible. He'd go fanatical on me in a heartbeat.

    Bottom line. It's not you. It's not his sibs. Like a drug, nothing matters to him right now except people, things that support or aide this fanatical fevored sense of Belonging to something Special.

    I know it hurts you so much. And I keep praying it won't take him long to come to his senses.

  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{{MWM}}} So sorry you're feeling so detached from your son and his life.

    I agree with Daisy's thoughts. I think it's more about his belonging to something, a group of people, that makes him feel 'special' and he has acquired a sense of belonging there. It could be that he is being very selfish in his need to feel special and like he 'belongs' and, therefore, puts your needs or the needs of his family secondary.

    Has anyone expressed to him their feelings of disappointment and hurt? Does he know to what extent he has detached himself from his mom and siblings and how that makes them feel? Without recriminations, would it be possible to have a family meeting (sans the wife) and discuss how much his presence is missed?

    I think that his religious beliefs are very personal and if it's a truly honest relationship with God, he should still be able to maintain his contact and relationships with family. No loving God would have one of his children estrange themself from their family for Him, Know what I mean?? At least that's not the God I knew growing up or presently. I think that blaming his wife or religious beliefs only clouds the true reasons for his estrangement from your family. It may be a waiting game and in the meantime, you perhaps could seek counseling to help you come to terms with the limitations of your relationship. I'm so sorry as I can hear the pain you're in from reading your post.
  8. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    just wondering how you know about him and his desire to not have kids yet? does he talk to you?? if so I would be sure to maintain any contact he allows and keep a loving relationship if at all possible. send him cards, invite them to dinner.
  9. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa


    I am a "Christian Fundamentalist" by your definition -- e.g. I believe that the bible is God's Word and "literally true". Actually a better term than "literally true" is "inerrant". ([long digression here, you may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph] Many of the passages are not meant to be taken literally, they are allegorical, e.g., the parables of Jesus, the book of Revelation. But these are clearly "labelled", as it were, in the text -- the original Hebrew and Greek typically have stylistic differences between straightforward history, poetry, and allegory. It is fairly common, in my experience, for non-believers to think that "fundies" take everything literally when that is not actually the case. On the other hand, we believe that the creation account, Noachian flood, and Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, with the attendant miracles and signs, and the miracles of Jesus and Acts of the apostles, for instance, really did happen just as set forth, because these are written in a historical "mode".)

    Now, I believe that your son's rejection of his family is unbiblical and I feel safe in saying that other "fundies" would say the same. Numerous citations of scripture regarding honoring your parents and carrying the Word to the world, not withdrawing from the world (we strive to follow Christ's example to live in the world, but not of the world) have already been given. If the group to which he belongs is preaching this withdrawal from his family (rather than it being a personal issue with him), then, by definition, they are not "Christian Fundamentalists" (another digression here: "fundamentalist" is not a biblical term, it is usually applied pejoratively by non-believers). I belong to neither Promise Keepers nor Dobson's group (I have some theological differences with them), but they would not, I feel certain, preach the kind of things that you have mentioned regarding your son's attitude towards his family.

    I would like to caution against making too-broad assumptions about "fundamentalists" and would also counsel against using that term, especially to your son, as it sometimes signals a certain hostility to and/or misconceptions about beliefs which are very deeply held. For example, the parenthesis in your opening post ("thinks divorce is always wrong and the man is in charge and that you need to spank your kids") is, IMVHO (and please don't take this as criticism but as an attempt to possibly provide some of the insight you desire), overly simplistic. We do not teach that divorce is "always" wrong, but rather we follow Christ's teaching that it is wrong except in cases of adultery. It is teaching against regarding marriage vows as less than sacred, unnecessary. (I am once divorced, myself, by the way). We do not teach that the man is in charge, but that the man and woman are equal partners but have distinct and different roles to play in the household (Ephesians 5:21 sets the tone: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." This teaching was quite radical in the first century, when women were generally treated as little more than chattel.) We do not teach that you need to spank your kids, but that discipline is necessary -- with an admonition: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger..." (Ephesians 6:4).

    To reiterate -- if his group is telling him to ostracize his family, they are not Christians, even if they call themselves that. It is very possible that he is involved in a cult if they are telling him to do this. But, the people who you seem to believe teach such things, in fact, do not do so, and if he is in a genuine Christian "fundamentalist" group, then he is in error.

    Perhaps if you were able to signal a willingness to accept his religious views, if not agree with them (I'm not saying you haven't done this, only that the terminology you've used and assumptions you've made may, unintentionally, have come across as hostile to his beliefs), it might lead to a thawing trend.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks. First of all, Martie, I don't remembering that we disagreed about I don't believe an infant gets Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but that's it. This child came at six. I know he's deeply affected by the adoption, and I've sensed that he is trying to find himself both by marrying into a family of his roots (Chinese) and in joining an extremely religious group. Whether it's a cult or not, I couldn't judge because I have only gone to mainstream churches. I never ever said anything bad to my son about his religion, but it has taken over his life. Maybe it's to hide behind. I don't know. I don't use words like Fundie to him. I've asked him to explain his beliefs. Many doom me. I've been divorced and not over adultry. Janet, I know he isn't sure they want kids because before he cornered himself up with K. he still talked a lot to me (in fact, he told me all about her and was very excited about her). He told me he wasn't sure either she or him needed or wanted kids in their lives. I pray every day they don't have any. They are both so rigid, I can't imagine them raising a happy child, and my son is obviously not comfortable with himself. However, I never told him I didn't want him to have kids. I always said I wanted grandchildren, and I do! (I'm expecting Grandchild #1 in March from biological son!)
    The breaking from the family was very abrupt and shortly after we met his future wife. Maybe she thinks we aren't Godly enough. He is crazy about her, he maybe is doing anything she asks, but, of course, at least part of this is his wishes.
    I'm also puzzled about "honor thy mother and father." He's NOT! Nor his sisters and brothers! I was told that some churches discourage members from circulating with non-members (their idea of a non-believer). I wondered if it could be that.
    I am VERY sad about this and would never adopt an older child again. The bond isn't the same to them as if you'd had them from a young age. He was always very distant, unlike my other kids, and yet I still love him so much.
  11. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    Unfortunately, if his religion/cult is anything like what my family comes from, they absolutely discourage any contact with nonbelievers, or as they call them “worldlies”. Doesn’t matter if one is family or not. And, because status within the congregation is very important, especially for the males (females have little to none), that can be greatly diminished if it is discovered that a member is associating with non-believers.

    Unfortunately, I have much experience with shunning. I have a very large extended family on my Mother’s side that cut us off years ago when my Mother left that wacky group of brain washers. They also discourage having children because they believe the world is going to end any second now (I heard THAT ONE my entire childhood). I can’t tell you what that does to a kid’s head to think that god is going to butter his toast with your dead carcass because you want to be like the other kids. So, maybe it’s good they’re not having kids while in that group.

    I’m sorry. Unfortunately, your story, aside from the adoption, does happen all too often. I hope your son will come out of his religious fog and realize he was raised by a loving woman that he should be honoring
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I really do feel son is being told not to see us. This came on very suddenly. And, yes, whatever church he's involved in, I think it's very cult-like and non-inclusive. I'm sure he feels we are all a bunch of heathens. He doesn't even approve of watching television. Once my youngest said "Oh God!" in his house with K. there and she snapped, "You don't say that! It's wrong!" I have to remind myself that things like this don't just happen. There is always a reason for severe behavioral changes. My son's involvement with K. and her church made him different. He's not the nice person he used to be. It's even call this Christianity...thanks again.
  13. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    my brother joined a cult when he was in college (back in about 1971 I think) and is still in it now but they and/or he has mellowed. When he first joined it he could only call my parents to ask for money--they said he should "hate" his family. My parents at first were so relieved he had found something to keep him off drugs but soon they were heartbroken since he could have no contact with them. Eventually he moved out of the U.S., married, had 4 kids, then divorced and remarried and now has a total of 11 kids I think. This was a kid who hated religion and children--he was so cynical when we were growing up!

    He now comes to the U.S. every year to raise money and he sees my mom (my dad is dead)and they have a nice relationship. He doesn't talk about his religion and seems pretty normal. The cult he was/is involved with is called the Children of God and they pretty much had to get out of the U.S.--their leader was being investigated for shady stuff.

  14. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    MWM, here are some generally recognized characteristics that can help you determine if your son's group is a cult:

    - Charismatic/messianic leader -- members revere some individual who dictates/interprets the group's beliefs and practices

    - Authoritarian structure -- rules and punishments dictated from the top

    - Isolation from society -- members are told to shun contact with outside world, or it is heavily regulated/monitored

    - Deceptive recruiting and fund-raising techniques

    - Exploit psychologically vulnerable people

    - Mind control / brainwashing techniques -- isolation, excessive study/meditation requirements, demanding tests of loyalty

    - Money benefits only the leader or top echelon, not society or membership at large

    Google "cult characteristics" for extensive resources.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea if that applies to my son. He hasn't shared. I don't believe there is any ONE leader. I think it's just a very fanatical church that believes their way of interpreting the Bible is right and everyone else is dead wrong. I'm quite sure they accept my son's money. He's very well off. And I believe, with all my heart, that he is being told not to hang with the heathens, even if they are family members. But I believe he is free to come and go if he chooses, although I wouldn't be surprised if he was put under a tremendous amount of guilt. And this child was an atheist at age seventeen! I liked him better that way. He was kinder. Now he is very selfish--I don't get it. Oh, well. Thanks.
  16. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    I think you are correct--whatever it was that we were debating had to do with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I think that abuse is required by the DSM does not matter at all. I know that you love your son very much and I hope you can find some way to have contact with him.

    The information provided on cults is exactly what I know/believe...and it is very sad.

    Best to you and congratulations on the expected grandchild.

  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Martie. I have no doubt that THIS adult child of mine has attachment problems. He is super-intelligent, and knows about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and feels he has issues too. However, he has never acted out in a typical "Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)" way, and could always bond well with his peers. Maybe that's because he spent six years depending on his orphanage buddies for moral support. I have NO doubt that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) happens to older kids! This son was always a "do the right thing" person who tried to impress people with his brains and wit and charm, but I felt a distance from him. I do believe he tried hard to bond, but never did, at least not the extent that we did to him. He is OVERLY enmeshed with his wife. Unfortunately, he is a handsome, educated, extremely well off young man (he told me he is close to being a millionaire and I believe him). His lifestyle would indicate that. There are many women who chased after him and this one caught him. I've always been suspicious of her motives, although I tried to hide it. She seems to want him all to herself.
    I would LOVE to know the name of their church so I could attend a service. I have a feeling that it wouldn't be like any church I've ever gone to before. From his talk about his beliefs, they were nothing like I'd ever heard in a Christian church before. Oh, well.