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  1. #1
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    Question Religion and Relationships

    I'll be amazed if this isn't a trainwreck within three pages, but I do have a serious question.

    How do those of you in a serious relationship with someone whose religious views are very different than yours work things out? We are three years into a wonderful relationship where we have lightly danced around our own spiritual differences. He was raised in a strongly religious family, and I was not. I read bits of the Bible and had a children's bible (I usually read the story of Noah's Ark, liked the pictures) and grew up with the general idea that JC was good and died for our sins, etc. I also grew up reading Native American, Greek, and Norse mythology; I think they are all great stories and parables from humanity's past.

    Fast forward, I have a degree in Earth Science; I believe the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and series of extinctions, geologic change and evolution have brought things to where we are today. I don't completely disbelieve in the possibility of a "divine being" or "great spirit" out there. Just because we haven't seen it or found it doesn't mean it's not there.

    DH-to-be is honestly concerned that because I am not a believer, when the time comes I will not go to heaven. I know that sounds pretty minor in the day-to-day scheme of things, but I know this bothers him. However, it seems to me that you cannot pick and choose what you believe in within a religion. I feel that I cannot say that yes, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and humans evolved from ancestors that diverged from apes, and also say I am a Christian; that feels like that can't coexist. I also find it hard to believe that with so many peoples and cultures around the world, there is only one right way and all everyone else will go to he##.

    I'm sorry this is rambling, and probably makes little sense. I've been having a bit of a spiritual ideological crisis over this and have a hard time putting my point to view into words without getting defensive or irate in a discussion. Constructive advice would be welcome, as well as any ideas who would be good for us/me to talk to, as I feel like I've though myself into a corner on this one.
    Failure is always an option*
    -Mythbusters

    *As long as you figure out what you f'ed up and fix it! -Me



  2. #2
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    Eventually, it will become a problem. You can't avoid it unless the religious one in the relationship makes it clear that they simply don't care what your spiritual beliefs are.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have,
    at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  3. #3
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    I don't have the time for a "long reply" but I've been in a serious relationship where our views were different. He was a fantastic guy and my best friend- at the end of the day, we viewed things very differently... and it was one of the factors (many others involved) that broke things off...

    Personally, the thing that scares me most in the case of different relationships happens to do with kids. If both have different views and don't have kids- it isn't a big issue. If one strongly feels that kids will be raised one way (as in my ex) and the other doesn't agree... that's a train wreck waiting to happen.

    And btw, yes I did take interest in what he believed in, went to church with him, etc. At the end of the day, I didn't feel like what he believed in was bad but too narrow minded for my liking.

    Good luck...
    Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!



  4. #4
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    Seems that religion, a specific belief no less, is important to him.
    You don't quite fit with his belief and that just won't change, that will always be a problem.

    You both will have to want to make this work, but in my experience, it is going to be very, very hard on his part.

    If it was the other way around, the man the less than serious religious follower of any kind of religion, that is acceptable in many religions.
    That the wife and mother is the disbeliever, that is not so much acceptable to the men, if they are very involved in their beliefs, especially if those beliefs involve other members of his family and eventually kids.

    Those differences don't make a relationship impossible, but make it a tough row to hoe.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNT View Post
    However, it seems to me that you cannot pick and choose what you believe in within a religion. I feel that I cannot say that yes, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and humans evolved from ancestors that diverged from apes, and also say I am a Christian; that feels like that can't coexist.
    First of all I am NOT christian but I believe the segment of Christians that hold to "young-Earth creationism" is actually relatively few. Day-Age creationism goes back to St. Augustine (and is also popular with some Jews).
    I'm sorry this is rambling, and probably makes little sense. I've been having a bit of a spiritual ideological crisis over this and have a hard time putting my point to view into words without getting defensive or irate in a discussion. Constructive advice would be welcome, as well as any ideas who would be good for us/me to talk to, as I feel like I've though myself into a corner on this one.
    I feel that differences in religion can be as fundamental as differences in sex or differences in wanting children to be a "dealbreaker" in terms of marriage.

    You have a few choices.

    1) You can find a more liberal congregation in which your views would be welcome and both attend together. Most compromises please no one, but maybe this is one you can each live with.
    2)You can each find a way to completely respect the other's feeling in an "agree to disagree" way where the idea of changing other person's opinion is off the table. Fine for now but if you take this option there are many more tough conversations ahead if you plan to have children. I think if there are huge amounts of mutual respect this can work. Otherwise, no.
    3) You can choose not to marry.

    I wish you luck.
    Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!



  6. #6
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    Go to an Episcopal church... We're allowed to believe in dinosaurs

    Also... this is a pretty cool site http://www.godandscience.org/index.html


    \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-



  7. #7
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    It can and probably will be problematic in the long run. I was raised strictly Catholic. We were taught Darwin in school, so that is what I believe. I dated for awhile a very strict guy of the Baptist persuasion. He believed in the 7 day thing, and was openly hostile to other views including mine. I think he believed he could save me, from my religious views. NOT...I grew very weary of his preaching. I could agree to disagree, he could not. That was my experience, yours could be different, but I do think the lack of the same core belliefs will result in problems. Especially if you have kids..I would really think about this before you go any further as a couple.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post

    You both will have to want to make this work, but in my experience, it is going to be very, very hard on his part.Those differences don't make a relationship impossible, but make it a tough row to hoe.
    Yes, he needs to agree to not pester you and you need to be free to not attend. He has to like you AS YOU ARE NOW, and the same for you towards him.

    You don't have to agree on the creation thing, there are always going to be things you don't agree on....just like riding horses or raising kids.



  9. #9
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    Honestly, I think it would be a deal breaker for one person in a relationship to be very serious about their beliefs and the other not to share them. I also think that the person very serious about their beliefs should have put them on the table very early on, but I realize relationships can grow in unexpected ways, too.

    I wish you the best, but nothing is going to get any easier on this topic after you are married. If you are incompatible on this and religion is an issue that truly matters to at least one of the parties, I think it would be very difficult to make it work. Maybe not impossible but a whole lot harder.

    For me, that and no children are my two absolutes. I cannot imagine getting in a relationship with anyone who did not share my views on those two subjects. But in all fairness, I would make that clear from the outset, that these are Big Deals. "Lightly dancing around" things for 3 years really doesn't seem fair of him if religion is an issue that is that important to him.



  10. #10
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    I think it's difficult or impossible when one partner honestly believes the other will go to hell if they don't believe. If he thinks you're damned unless you follow his specific belief system, it will be hard to compromise.

    I am a Christian and was in a 7 year relationship with a man who practiced a pagan religion. We managed it through mutual respect basically. However, my church doesn't teach that there's only one path to God.

    I do want to point out that pretty much everyone picks and chooses their beliefs to some degree, even the so-called literalists. If your SO eats pork or shellfish or wears mixed fibers he does it too. There are also many Christian traditions which are fully compatible with science--even Catholicism supports the theory of evolution and all that. They just add in an unprovable creator who must be accepted on faith. Not all Christians (not even a majority!) are young Earth creationists, even though the number that are is somewhat embarrassing.



  11. #11
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    Do you want to have kids? If so, then this will be a hard one to get through, especially if you're not able to talk about it now.

    What other topics do you "lightly dance around" instead of discussing? Money, kids, religion are the big ones that usually cause major problems if you can't talk about them. And even if you can.

    Is his family very religious, too? How do they like you?



  12. #12
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    Nov. 6, 2002
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    Nothing separates people more than religion. Throughout history, many more people have been killed over religious differences, than anything else. Most people who are self-proclaimed as being really religious have not studied history, and can't even tell you the basic differences between Sunni and Shite Muslims, yet they believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Most people who believe the King James version of the Bible is the direct word of God have not studied other languages.......



  13. #13
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    keep in mind, his family may back him and if that is the case....holidays are going to be AWFUL.

    Me, I'd never marry anyone who was devout. Too much potential for trouble with that



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNT View Post
    DH-to-be is honestly concerned that because I am not a believer, when the time comes I will not go to heaven. I know that sounds pretty minor in the day-to-day scheme of things, but I know this bothers him.
    Doesn't sound very minor to me .

    If he thinks he is good enough to get into heaven, but you are not, he will always look down on you for that.
    Jigga:
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**



  15. #15
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    Figured out halfway through my freshman year in college that this is a total and instantaneous deal breaker for me.

    I won't even ask out a woman who I know has weird religious beliefs -- translation: anything that avowedly religious people might consider a 'legitimate' or conventional religious belief. I can't respect or take seriously anyone I consider to be superstitious and irrational.

    Women who profess superstition immediately cease to be attractive. Desire resides in the mind. Someone thinking that it's perfectly fine (much less desirable) to be irrational tells me all I need to know.
    If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?

    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adamantane View Post
    Figured out halfway through my freshman year in college that this is a total and instantaneous deal breaker for me.

    I won't even ask out a woman who I know has weird religious beliefs -- translation: anything that avowedly religious people might consider a 'legitimate' or conventional religious belief. I can't respect or take seriously anyone I consider to be superstitious and irrational.

    Women who profess superstition immediately cease to be attractive. Desire resides in the mind. Someone thinking that it's perfectly fine (much less desirable) to be irrational tells me all I need to know.
    I agree, but in defense of the truly faithful, what they believe in depending on the culture they grew up in or encountered later, they can't help it.

    Some of the latest neurobiology seems to think that some people are wired to have irrational beliefs, faith you may call it.
    Just like being left handed, you can learn to use the other hand, but deep in your wiring, you are wired to be a leftie, just as they, no matter how they know their beliefs are irrational, they can't help but believe on them a bit, or a lot if they are not deep thinkers.

    Yes, that can be an important difference between most couples not wired to understand that.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by saultgirl View Post
    Doesn't sound very minor to me .

    If he thinks he is good enough to get into heaven, but you are not, he will always look down on you for that.
    Or maybe, if he really loves her, he is concerned about her immortal soul and really worries that she will go somewhere bad/live in eternal torment when she dies. Doesn't necessarily mean that he thinks he is "better" than she is, just that he is concerned about her eventual fate and well being. Nothing to do with "looking down" on her.

    For the record, I consider myself more agnostic than anything else,(as I understand agnostisim anyway) and don't personally believe in the concept of Hell/hell. However, I can see how if I DID believe in Hell, and believed that someone that I loved was destined to go there simply for not believing, I would be very concerned and fearful for them. It might make it extremely difficult for me to "live and let live." Again, not because I thought I was BETTER than they, but because I loved and was concerned for them. Same result though, so still a problem. Not sure what the answer is. Good luck, hope things work out for you.
    I'm not tense, just terribly, terribly alert!
    If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible warning!



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Some of the latest neurobiology seems to think that some people are wired to have irrational beliefs, faith you may call it.
    Just like being left handed, you can learn to use the other hand, but deep in your wiring, you are wired to be a leftie, just as they, no matter how they know their beliefs are irrational, they can't help but believe on them a bit, or a lot if they are not deep thinkers.
    I was reading about that too, I think it's interesting. And I also have to say that I have yet to meet any who doesn't hold any irrational beliefs. Even brilliant scientists can hold totally irrational beliefs in other areas of their lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by azeventer View Post
    Or maybe, if he really loves her, he is concerned about her immortal soul and really worries that she will go somewhere bad/live in eternal torment when she dies. Doesn't necessarily mean that he thinks he is "better" than she is, just that he is concerned about her eventual fate and well being. Nothing to do with "looking down" on her.

    For the record, I consider myself more agnostic than anything else,(as I understand agnostisim anyway) and don't personally believe in the concept of Hell/hell. However, I can see how if I DID believe in Hell, and believed that someone that I loved was destined to go there simply for not believing, I would be very concerned and fearful for them. It might make it extremely difficult for me to "live and let live." Again, not because I thought I was BETTER than they, but because I loved and was concerned for them. Same result though, so still a problem. Not sure what the answer is. Good luck, hope things work out for you.
    That's what I was thinking too. If I believed that someone I loved was going to hell because they didn't believe in my religion, I don't think I could leave it be. I mean, if you truly believe that they'll reside in eternal torment after their death and you truly love them, how could you just let that happen?

    I have some very devout extended family who frequently try to convert me (because my type of Christianity doesn't count) and even though it's annoying and I do avoid them because of it, I do try not to be rude to them when I have to see them because I really do think they're doing it out of love.

    I have also have met plenty of Christians who do think they're better than non-believers, but this thread is about two people who (presumably) love and respect each other.



  19. #19
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    I think that what this boils down to is a basic respect for each other and their beliefs. DH was raised baptist and his family is very religious (though DH and I were friends long before we started dating and he has never gone to church since I've known him). He has expressed a general "I want you to be in heaven with me" but I know that isn't meant to be disrespectful and look down on me. We have basically agreed to disagree. We listen to each others beliefs and views and respect the differences. Neither of us are irrational in these conversations, we basically just want to express what we believe, not convert the other. If we were trying to change each other we probably wouldn't have decided to get married.

    We did have a brief break-up about a year after we started dating when his parents found out. We did manage to get through that after lots of long talks.

    While I have never wanted to have children, DH has expressed interest in having kids (suddenly changed his mind after we got married). This is one thing (of many!) that I really worry about if we did decide to have a child. We've had a lot of talks about this and I'm sure we'll have many more before we make a decision. I don't want this to be something that ruins our relationship so we need to make sure the not only are we on the same page, but that we sit down with our families and make sure that they are on the same page as well.
    A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    Eventually, it will become a problem. You can't avoid it unless the religious one in the relationship makes it clear that they simply don't care what your spiritual beliefs are.
    I agree, which is why I never dated outside of my spiritual beliefs.

    If he truly believes what he says he believes, he will not give up those beliefs for you or anyone else. Sorry to be so blunt.
    Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
    W. C. Fields



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