How do I attend services when my atheist father threatens to kick me out of the house?
I became a Christian a year and a half ago. I am an 18-year-old male high school senior. I have a father who is an extremely stubborn atheist. He lived most of his life in Iran (and so did I) which is an Islamic theocracy and my father has come to hate all religions as a result of his experience there. Iran expects 99.5% of its population to be Muslim and does not allow anyone to change their religion. Converting away from Islam is inarguably the greatest and most serious crime any Iranian can commit, and they will certainly face death for it and have all of their assets taken away if they are doing it in a foreign country.
We have been living in the United States for over five years. My father has not allowed me to attend church for all of this time. He makes the excuse that if I go to church, an Iranian spy will see me or the word will spread that I have converted and then my dad will lose all of his assets and real estate in Iran. (All of this is nonsense in my opinion. What Iranian spy would be in a random church in the middle of nowhere?) My father worked very hard for decades to have a good paying job and build wealth. I believe that this is his excuse for not letting me go to church since he has deep scorn for all religious people and simply wants to keep me out of church so that I will eventually fall away.
For about a month and a half, I told him every Sunday that I’m going to take a walk. Then I took a walk for about five minutes and then was picked up by church members and attended services. At some point, he found out and got extremely angry. This happened a year ago.
I am conflicted between Hebrews 10:25 and Ephesians 6:1. Acts 5:29 gives a general principle of obeying God rather than men when the two conflict but I’m not sure if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing here. I have no idea what my dad might do to me if I attend weekly worship. If he kicks me out of the house I have no way of supporting myself financially. I apologize for all of the text but this situation cannot be oversimplified. Please tell me your thoughts as to what is the Biblical thing to do in this situation and any other comments you would like to make. I cannot get rid of the feeling of despair, terror, and hopelessness that overwhelms me every time I talk to my father about this subject and the conversation ends by him yelling so loud that people in India can hear him.
Many people miss that Ephesians 6 is qualified. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). If your parents tell you to steal, the correct response is to disobey the order because it violates what God commands.
I have known a number of young people in your situation who chose to do what God said. One young man was kicked out of his home at the age of 14 for becoming a Christian. One of the elders took him in and he became an outstanding Christian. Another left home because his mother refused to allow him to become a Christian. He moved to another state where Christians took him in for a short while he got a job and earned enough to buy his own car and rent his own apartment.
What I would suggest is that you talk to the members at the church you are attending and tell them about your situation and your fears. Hopefully, one or more of them will be willing to take you in if the worse happens. Meanwhile, quietly continue to serve the Lord. If you can, get a part-time job and save up an emergency fund.
At the age of 18, you are technically an adult in most states. If you get kicked out, you can start working full-time and rent your own place. If you want to attend college, start applying for as many scholarships as you can. Hopefully, you can get a full ride through college. You may have to continue working part-time or full-time while in college to support yourself. It may mean you won't have a social life for several years, but the hardships will be temporary.
But what I suspect (and hope) is that your dad is all talk and no action. He may yell, but as long as he doesn't become violent, you can tolerate it for a few more months. You are correct that his talk about Iranian spies is simply a way to play on your fears so you will do as he says.