Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Mary:
Greetings, Lee. I have been an Eastern Orthodox Christian my entire life, despite brief forays into other denominations, even considering myself an agnostic at times because of the insufficiency of answers to my questions. The return to Orthodoxy always seemed the best default in encompassing at least “most of the truth.” I stumbled across “Off the Left Eye” and discovered Swedenborg’s works and now find more answers to my struggles in faith than I ever believed possible. I’ve acquired nearly all his most seminal writings and feel a depth of satisfaction and connection I hadn’t believed possible for me. Suddenly, it all makes sense.
Yet, I have a continual gnawing problem, regarding my relationship with my very elderly mother. I feel that my intense, nearly lifelong dislike for her (often times, hatred) will keep me from salvation. It is the worst stumbling block I can imagine because I see her as such a horrible, haughty, deceitful, selfish, hateful, Godless person. I can’t even find it within me to pray for her. It is my daily spiritual stumbling. We don’t speak or have any contact and while I know I am not honoring her, I simply cannot do so. Can you possibly enlighten me in this regard? Thank you for any insight you might share.
Thanks, Mary, for sharing your conundrum.
I have often thought that if I had to choose one of the three main branches of Christianity, it would be Orthodox Christianity. It seems to have departed least far from the teachings of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. However, I agree with you that the teachings of Swedenborg take Christianity and our spiritual life to a whole new level. They are also closer to what is taught in the Bible than any other Christian teaching that I am aware of.
Now to your question—which is one that many people face. You touch on this commandment:
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, and also Deuteronomy 5:16)
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms this commandment in Matthew 15:1–9, Mark 7:9–13, Mark 10:19, and Luke 18:20. However, Jesus also says:
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
Clearly there is more to your question than meets the eye! Let’s take a closer look.
For more on hating family members, please click here to read on.