Help, I have a very religious brother, and I know he means well, but his dogmatic views on religion has become a bone of contention, no pun intended. He espouses love of all, but it comes across as love for those who believe like he does, and the rest can all burn in hell. I want to be able to talk to my brother without it becoming a spiritual slugfest.
Religion and politics…the two topics you should never discuss in mixed company, right? Well, sometimes the same goes for family too. I come from a family with a wide variety of views on religion and spirituality so I can tell you firsthand, its not an easy path to navigate at times. So, what kinds of things do you want to talk to your brother about? Because talking religion with him (or politics for that matter), is not likely to end well. You’re going to have to have some off-limit topics and I’m guessing those two will be at the top of the list.
The deeper concern here, of course, is that you feel like you cant’ speak openly to your brother because he will judge you. There’s not really any easy way to get around this problem. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your relationship with him is to have an open conversation about how you feel. Tell him that the “spiritual slugfest” makes it hard for you to talk to him. Tell him that you want to be able to talk to him and suggest being more open about how you both feel so that you can develop a better communication style. The truth is, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, he probably is too. Imagine getting into an argument with someone over your beliefs every time you’re around them…oh wait, no need to imagine.
And then…let it go. You can’t change the way that he thinks, only the way that you react to it. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you want to have a relationship with your brother, you’re going to have to agree to disagree. Focus on what brings you together, what you have in common. Find new things that you can do together that don’t go down that spiritual path. It may not be an easy road, but if you want to travel it together, you’ll both have to do the necessary work to create a strong foundation that allows you both to have your beliefs without stepping on the others toes.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.