The Bible’s Viewpoint

Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?

When Avtar began studying the Bible, her Sikh family was upset. “In my homeland,” she says, “changing your religion cuts you off from the community. Even our names have religious meaning. To change your religion is viewed as rejecting your identity and disrespecting your family.”

AVTAR eventually became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Was she wrong to change her religion? Perhaps you identify with her family. You may feel that your religion is inextricably linked with family history and culture and should not be changed.

Honoring one’s family is important. The Bible says: “Listen to your father who caused your birth.” (Proverbs 23:22) But it is more important to seek to know the truth about our Creator and his purposes. (Isaiah 55:6) Is such a search possible? If so, how important is this search to you?

Searching for Religious Truth

The world’s religions teach conflicting ideas. Logically, those teachings cannot all be true. As a result, there must be many people who, as the Bible says, “have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.” (Romans 10:2) Yet, as recorded at 1 Timothy 2:4, the apostle Paul says that it is God’s will that “all sorts of men . . . come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” How can such accurate knowledge be found?

Consider reasons for examining the Bible. Paul, who was an inspired Bible writer, stated: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16) As part of your search for truth, examine the evidence that the Bible’s claim is true. Investigate for yourself its unparalleled wisdom, historical accuracy, and fulfilled prophecy.

Instead of presenting all religions as equal approaches to God, the Bible tells its readers not to believe everything they hear but to “test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) For example, any teaching that truly originates with God must be in harmony with his personality, including his dominant quality of love.—1 John 4:8.

The Bible assures us that God wants us to “really find him.” (Acts 17:26, 27) Since our Creator wants us to search for truth, it cannot be wrong to act on the evidence that we find—even if this means changing our religion. But what about the problems that this may bring?

Balancing Family Loyalty

When people change their beliefs, they may decide that they will no longer share in certain religious rituals or holidays. Understandably, this can result in strong feelings within the family. Jesus acknowledged this. He told his followers: “I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law.” (Matthew 10:35) Did Jesus mean that Bible teachings were designed to be an unavoidable cause of contention? No. He simply foresaw what could happen when family members react negatively to one who takes a firm stand for beliefs different from theirs.

Should family conflict be avoided at all costs? The Bible teaches that children should be obedient to parents and that wives should be in subjection to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22; 6:1) However, it instructs those who love God to “obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Thus, at times, loyalty to God may result in your making a decision that is unpopular with some family members.

Although the Bible makes a clear distinction between true and false teachings, God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family. Does study of the Bible lead to family breakup? No. In fact, the Bible encourages a husband and wife who practice different religions to remain together as a family.—1 Corinthians 7:12, 13.

Overcoming Fears

You may fear how the community will react if you study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mariamma says: “My family was worried that I would not be able to find a suitable husband who could provide for me. So they opposed my Bible study.” Mariamma put her trust in Jehovah God and continued studying. (Psalm 37:3, 4) You can do the same. Rather than fear the results, consider the benefits. The Bible’s message changes lives and personalities for the better. People learn to show unselfish love for their family. Bad habits, such as verbal and physical violence and abuse of alcohol and drugs, can be overcome. (2 Corinthians 7:1) The Bible promotes such wholesome traits as loyalty, honesty, and industriousness. (Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 4:24, 28) Why not study the Bible and see the benefits of applying its teachings in your life?

HAVE YOU WONDERED?

▪ Why examine your religious beliefs?—Proverbs 23:23; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4.

▪ How can you identify true teachings?—2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:1.

▪ Should family opposition prevent you from studying the Bible?—Acts 5:29.

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The Bible’s message changes lives and personalities for the better

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Mariamma and her husband