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Article ID: 10111
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 18th. 2005
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When one thinks about interfaith relationships, they tend to think along the lines of boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, or whatever romantic relationships there can be. Other times, they consider it from a platonic view, between regular friends. And if they are to bring families into the picture, they look at it as being between the parents, or between kids and their parents.
But what about interfaith relationships between siblings? This type of relationship can often be overlooked because the people in question are related by force, not by choice. They are born into this relationship without any say in the matter. Some may not see the problem in this. After all, they are raised the same way, brought up under the same circumstances, and taught the same lessons and beliefs. How can there be any real trouble there?
At the very least, that’s a common mode of thinking for only children. But as anybody with one or more siblings will understand, while we can be born into the same situation, we can equally be worlds apart in how we think, believe, or act. We react in our own unique ways to our living conditions, and we make our own changes as we grow older. So when one sibling changes their religion, the effects on this relationship can be anywhere from insignificant to devastating.
I have one other sibling - a sister who will be fifteen this year. We were both raised Roman Catholic. We are both religious by nature, and up until I took up Wicca, we were devout in our own ways to the Catholic Church. We served as altar servers, got up early for church every Sunday, and believed in the Christ God without question. In those early years, that was religion for us.
Outside of church, we were at constant odds. We fought over the most frivolous things, as all siblings tend to do. As we grew older, we grew closer, though we still have our bouts of fighting every now and then. But other than that, we were happy, or at the very least tolerant, with each other.
But as I grew older, I grew more introverted. I had various personal issues to contend with (my homosexuality, constant ridicule from my peers, and anger management, among others). Squaring all these problems with my Roman Catholic faith doubled my anxiety and pain. As a result, I ended up staying silent around my family, never giving them any idea of just what I was going through. I shied away from my sister, and when we did communicate, harsh words were often exchanged. I had no one to talk to, especially at home. This was the low point in my life.
When I found Wicca, it was the start of a long, ongoing process of self-healing. I found so much more freedom and tolerance for who I was as a person that was absent from my Catholic upbringing. I knew this was where I belonged. It just resonated with much of my past experiences, with beliefs that I had held deep down, despite what I had been taught to believe by the church. I was, to put it simply, home.
Still, that home was only in a state of mind. I still had a physical home to contend with, and unfortunately, that home was comprised of Catholics on my father’s side and Baptists on my mother’s side. To this day, I have not told my parents, as I’m still learning Wicca and have not fully initiated myself yet. As other teenagers who come to Wicca will profess, keeping your religious beliefs from your parents and family is no easy task, and is often a burden which we are less than happy to bear.
So where does one turn in one’s family to ease this burden? Well, I certainly didn’t know where for months after finding Wicca. I mean, the conservative nature of my family wasn’t exactly the most conducive to the changes in my beliefs. I had considered telling my sister once or twice, but hesitated. She was still a devout Catholic, after all, and even though she had learned of and accepted my homosexuality prior to my discovery of Wicca, I thought my beliefs would be too much for her to bear.
But during the last Summer Solstice, I was forced out of the broom closet to her. I had just set up my altar when my sister unexpectedly knocked on my door asking to borrow my DVD player. I was mortified - here I was all decked out to celebrate the Goddess, and my Christ-worshipping sister decided to pop in and ask for something. I tried to hide everything, only handing her the player through the door, but she grew worried, and pressed me for questions behind my locked door. I knew there was no escape, so expecting outrage, I came out of my room and told her.
Her reaction was more than I could have asked for. Apparently, she had Wiccan friends, and had her own knowledge of the Craft. I was overjoyed at how surprisingly accepting she was. After assuring her that there were no more secrets, I went on to celebrate the solstice with a newfound sense of relief.
Since then, my sister and I have been more open about our lives. We don’t fight as often as we used to, and we get along quite well. We don’t really get into religion or sexuality though, mainly because it’s not a big deal and there’s no real need to talk about it with one another.
However, I’m not saying being honest with her on my religious beliefs has solved all my problems. As I’m not out to my parents, she’s constantly worried about what will happen when the truth gets out. When I have considered coming out as gay, she always manages to convince me that now’s not the right time (which in fact is true, as I need my dad for financial support in college). And I know she worries about my fate after I die. I mean, how do you think a Roman Catholic feels when she discovers her brother is living an “immoral lifestyle” and worshiping “false idols?” I mean, she understands my faith is totally legit, but she sometimes worries that I’ll end up burning in a non-existent hell. Still, she and I have made sure to not let those worries affect our personal relationship.
Being in an interfaith relationship with romance or friendship is one thing. Being born into one is something entirely different. But the benefit of the latter is that a sibling will know more about you than any friend and possibly any lover will. As a result, the road to acceptance is much shorter and quicker.
For those of you who are not out as Pagan, Wiccan, Druidic, or whatever path you choose, to your brothers and sisters, I really recommend telling them. If you’re unsure as to how they’ll react, find examples of Paganism (be it a person or an article or whatever), and see how they react. Unless you have verifiable proof that they will disown you in their own way for who you are, you should tell them. Especially if no one else in your family knows, because it’s always helpful to have someone at home you can talk to about your beliefs, if the occasion ever presents itself. It won’t solve all your problems, but it’s a healthy start.
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