Things are not that black and white at all, and how we treat other people is more a function of our underlying personality and character traits than our external ‘religiosity’. Some secular people have sterling middot, and some (externally) ‘religious’ people really don’t.
But what we can say is this: When a person truly believes in God; truly believes in the concepts of reward for doing good and punishment for doing bad; and spends some considerable time and energy trying to see past their own blind-spots to ‘catch’ what immature facets of their own personality still needs some work, then their chances of emotionally abusing other people are much, much smaller.
Again, while there are some (externally) secular people who really do have hearts of gold, a pronounced sense of right and wrong, and a strong belief in God (and I’ve met some of them…) many secular people don’t. Without the Torah’s laws to guide them and coach them about what is spiritually and emotionally healthy behavior, and what is spiritually-corrupt, mentally-ill behavior, many secular people can fall into an abyss of terrible, emotionally-abusive, toxic behavior that is often very difficult to exit.
Without the objective standards of the Torah and Jewish law, there’s always some excuse, or rationale, that makes their terrible behavior ‘OK’, justified, and even a mitzvah.
Which brings me to the topic of today’s post. Recently, I had some unsolicited correspondence from a very toxic individual who is ‘anti’ Judaism, anti-God, and definitely ‘anti’ me. This person married out of the faith, and now regards all religious Jews as ‘bigoted liars’ who are stuck in a fog of superstition, deceit and medieval opinions.
And they - and their extended family - aren’t at all shy about stating their views and about how ‘bad’ and ‘bigoted’ we are.
When my kids started to approach the beginning of the difficult teenage years, my husband and I made the painful decision to do everything in our power to keep these ‘anti-God’ individuals away from our kids as much as possible.
I honestly haven’t regretted that decision for a moment. My kids’ souls are the most important part of them, and these people are nothing less than a soul-destroyer. But these decisions are still never made easily, and they dragged so much heartache in their wake for years.
Recently, God has been showing me more and more how we did the right thing by our children.
Last week, I got an unsolicited email from this toxic relative, where they reiterated the same sort of horrible, emotionally-abusive sentiments they always do, like:
- We’re a disgrace blah blah blah
- We’re scroungers and ‘nothing but parasites’ blah blah blah
- They’re so sorry my kids have to grow up in a house full of ‘bigotry and lies’ blah blah blah
- We’re not good or kind people, and we use religion as an excuse for our despicable behavior blah blah blah
And then they signed off with their usual ‘prophetic curse’ that our observantly-Jewish life is going to be SOOOO horrible and awful and lonely, and we brought it all on ourselves!!!!
(With relatives like this, who needs ISIS?)
Now really, why on earth should I let people like this, with their incredibly poisonous outlook on Judaism, religious Jews, and me as a religious, Jewish person anywhere near my children?!?!?
Or myself, come to that?!?!
The fundamental basics of emotional health - namely compassion, caring, being able to see the other person’s point of view and ACCEPTING THAT GOD EVEN EXISTS - are completely missing by this person.
According respect to someone else is a function of being an emotionally-healthy human being. We’re all different, we’re all unique. If someone can’t respect my basic humanity - even if they disagree with my ideas and lifestyle - then that is emotionally-abusive behaviour. When the problem is compounded by heresy and atheism, it goes up a whole other level.
My kids (and my husband) are the most important things in my life. I know it’s not ‘polite’, comfortable, or socially-acceptable to close out the emotionally-abusive ‘anti-God’ relatives in our lives. But just because they’re on the fast track to Gehinnom, doesn’t mean I have to let them try and drag my family down there with them.
I originally wrote this a few days ago, but delayed in posting it up, as I thought maybe it’s a little too strong. The last two days, I’ve been feeling completely flattened emotionally, and just wanted to ‘disappear’ out of the world. In the old days, it would have spiralled off into an attack of depression that could have lasted for months.
Now, because I know that emotional abuse and emotional neglect is what causes depression (and a bunch of other serious emotional issues…) I knew that all the toxic emails I got last week was underneath my two day crash this week - and that’s what helped me to pull out of it so quickly.
My experience showed me that I really do need to stick this post up after all. These people really are soul destroyers, and family wreckers, and mental health trashers, and the more people who know to watch out for their poisonous behaviour and to avoid them, the better it will be for everyone.