A Family Problem

Q. Recently my brother-in-law has revealed to me that he no longer believes in God. He claims to be Agnostic now. While my sister used to study and go to church, she no longer does, though she is still a believer. Her comments to me concerning what her husband now believes is that “his beliefs now are a mess.” My problem is this, he knows that I study the Word of God every day and he challenges me quite often on the truths of the Scriptures.

This has obviously turned into a debate of sorts and I’m wondering what my position should be? He stated that he was challenging me to be open to other things and to not be so closed minded as to not listen to all the views before I decide what I believe. What should I do?

My sister and I are only one year apart and we spend a lot of time together. Considering all these new developments, should I reconsider spending time with her? My husband and I decided that if something were to happen to us that my sister and her husband would take our baby girl. Should this be reevaluated?

I want to be loving in every way about this situation but I also want to do what is best for myself and my family. What is your advice on all this?

A. Yours is a heart breaking story. It does appear as if your brother-in-law is more interested is dissuading you from your beliefs than anything else.

The problem with debates over religious views is best defined in 1 Corinthians 2:14:

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

This is why I don’t advocate debates over religion. If he’s truly rejected God that means he never was saved and has never been able to comprehend the things of God. That being the case, there’s no way to debate or argue him into believing. The best thing to do is also the only thing you can do. Pray for him.

Before doing anything else, you need to be sure your own faith is strong enough to withstand an attack, and that you’re truly called by God to debate with this man. I think you also need to be certain of the condition of your sister’s faith. If she’s a believer then continue to support her by spending time together. If your sister is not a believer, you may want to consider finding another couple to take your daughter in case you and your husband co-decease.

You don’t say how long this situation has been in the making, but I wouldn’t act too hastily on severing all ties. There may be issues between God and your brother in law that he needs time to work out. Until you are certain that things have finalized, maintain your closeness with your sister, but back away from the debate unless you’re convinced that God has commanded you to continue.

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