My name is Jeremy. I wrote to you a little over a year ago with a best friend problem. You'll be happy to know that we have started to work things out. We're catching up via email, he's being very genuine and answering my questions openly. The titles were "the few, the proud, the real men" and "This is your Life."
This good news isn't the reason I am writing to you once again. This problem is with my wife. First of all, I married my wife knowing she was catholic. I didn't know what religion to claim when we first met, I was mostly agnostic. Someone that doesn't subscribe to a supreme being but leaves the possibility that we're wrong. We were married in a non-denomination wedding, one performed by a judge. Since then I have become an atheist. I won't go into the reasons why, just know that this was partially because of my profession in healthcare. Our daughter was baptized catholic when she was first born, I attended because it was my daughter. I wouldn't promise to raise her catholic or guide her on her path to Christ. I simply went to support my baby.
The problem is: My wife now wants me to marry her in the church.. My reasons for declining are as follows:
We are already legally married.
I don't subscribe to a religion or supreme being of any kind and never will.
I will not make a donation to this church for the ceremony.
I won't promise to raise my children Catholic.
I didn't ask her to change who she was and I will not change who I am by taking false vows in her church.
My family isn't catholic and won't attend, I wouldn't ask them.
Those are the top reasons and I am a very strong-willed man, maybe stubborn. I just cannot take vows in her church without meaning them. I would be a fraud and devalue myself as a man. Still, after all these reasons, my wife still nags me. I have told her I won't repeat this list again. She claims that I won't do it, even to make her happy.. My answer is still unchanged. I guess I'm in a pickle.
This is why I came to you Aunt Babz, I need a push in the right direction. You sure helped me last time. Thank you for everything.
Honestly, I have to commend you for taking the moral high ground and not giving in just to be amicable. You have as good a reason to not get married in a catholic environment as your wife surely does for wanting to be married in the church.
Now here’s the kicker. You do want to remain married right? My advice is for the two of you to sit down and have the respect talk. Regardless of what faith you were or weren’t when you two got married, the point is that we all change and grow, and sometimes our religious beliefs change and grow as well. Respecting your partner’s beliefs is a two way street, and I think your wife might be a little confused. I will elaborate.
Some people seem to think that being atheist or agnostic means that you don’t really care if someone else is religious. Some also think that because you have no religion, you wouldn’t mind bending for them because they have beliefs in a religion. It is difficult to explain to a religious person that not having a religion or not wanting a religion is just as valid as wanting one/belonging to one. It is even harder to explain that your lack of belief, and desire to remain “un-devout” is as natural and important as their desire to be devout.
You need to realise that maybe your wife falls into the category of not understanding why you choose not to partake in any religion, the same as you may not understand all the reasons your wife has now chosen to be so faithful.
Bottom line though, if you two cannot come to terms amicably about this I do not think your marriage will last long. Faith, and the un-believer can have a great bond, but if it is not understood and accepted by both parties, there will be animosity. You already know this, given the situations that have presented themselves thus far.
I hope that the two of you do work this out, and are able to respect the differences you both have.
My Dearest Jeremy,
It's good to hear from you, ol' friend and it's especially pleasant to hear that we may have helped you in the past. It's actually inspiring for you to write us again as this tells me you have placed your trust in us. This is something I do not take lightly, in any way, shape or form. I feel the same way about your question for us too!
I do remember you, fondly. I also remember you having stern values as well as a stubborn streak. Welcome to the Club where I'm not only a card carrying member but the N.Y. Chapter President.
I say all this in utter amusement, of course. At the same time, your situation perplexes me. And it's pretty deep, hotter than a well diggers ass, huh? (I am and will always be, "Rude, Crude & Socially unacceptable, eh?)
All jokes aside, I find myself in complete conflict as to how to counsel you. You see, I have strong feelings of faith, personally. As well, I am a very Spiritual person. I would have to say that I have a rather eclectic belief system founded on my own soul searching, seeking the utmost truth.
A personal awareness or rather an astute observation I have had is that we must, each and every one of us, seek the truth, search for the answers, most certainly, search for a truth based upon our faith. More importantly we must never ever allow ourselves to be led astray, especially coerced off course or shepherded from the truth by man or the Church. Yes, I said that out loud!!!
I am not, having said that, what I would consider religious, I almost despise that word, the connotation of it and quite frankly steer way clear of it. But me and The Big Guy have a very personal relationship (I have His cell phone number, did ya know that?). Thus, this is a bit difficult if not painful question for me.
Looking for counsel myself or rather a guys point of view, I went to my middle son, Bill. His answer rather amazed me...ZOOM. After telling him what your question was he basically sided with you. He stated that, if the tables were turned and you were, lets say, i.e., a practicing Satanist or you believed in Voodoo, unequivocally, would your wife submit to your teachings and raising your children in that religion, per say? Would she also respect your request to marry or renew your vows in the Church of Satan?
Now, I DID NOT even like writing this but in a sense of fair play and good judgment, I maintain that I do believe that she can not expect you, a man of mighty moral fiber and such strong belief systems to begin Living A Lie.
I would suggest possibly using the analogy I presented when explaining this to your wife. She'll have to respect your wishes, values and beliefs by first understanding or rather putting her in your shoes. Yes, it's all a matter of perspective, my friend.
by saying all this, I want it clear that I do not condone your beliefs but I do respect them. I'd want you to listen to me concerning raising your children by hearing me out on an all important matter;
God expects parents to raise their children to serve Him. Parents will answer to God for every child He entrusts to their care.
Having said this, the importance in the matter comes to mind that if you are wrong, you will most certainly be held accountable, okay? It is my duty or so I believe to have said this. I do not apologize but humbly state what I feel is rather important.
I am quite assured you have researched all this before you came to your conclusions. I mean, in my mind it is a given that you are quite intellectual therefore you do challenge things as they are.
I want to also say that I too have challenged the norm, especially the Church, concerning my beliefs. I am not religious, as I stated but I aspire to be a good person, a better woman than I have in the past. My past, my persona in the past, well, we'll just say one word; Wretched.
I also have my convictions where my children are concerned. I did not ever want to force my or any "religion" on them or thrust it down their throats as it was done to me. And I have, to this day, many horrid hangups because of the fire and damnation of the Catholic Church. There's a lot of guilt trips in the mass of religion thus I did not ever want this for my own offspring.
At the same time, as I stated before, it is my duty to bring my own children up in the ways of the Lord and I'd done a rather horrendous job for many many years. In the "Book of My Life" the pages I was on for far too long were, unfortunately, to teach them how to get over and to be really good at being bad, just like their Mama. But I am not on that chapter anymore, it's a new dawn, a new day, a new me.
It took me years to arrive at this chapter in my own book and I can not expect you to jump forward or skip chapters in your own personal life/book. I can not preach at you nor will I try to convert you. It's a hot as hell subject, all puns intended.
I will however, pray that the scales may come off of your eyes and that you will have ears to hear. I'll pray that you stand down when it comes to rearing your children, that you will not teach your children that they are utterly alone in this world. I'll pray that you'll not influence them in a manner that may be hurtful.
Your wife has got to be patient and respectful. You two are not *yoked properly, in a religious sense and she'll have to pray and use that faith of hers. In addition, I hope that you'll allow her to bring your children up as Christians.
When they are adults, they too can make their own choices. But I dare say, again, if you are wrong and there are millions upon millions of people, intellectuals, scholars, that would tell you that you are wrong, there will be an accounting.
End of Story...
Keeping It Real,
*Yoked; A yoke is a wooden thing that joins two oxen together as they plow a field. In the use of the passage reference, this is on a spiritual realm. If you're marrying a non-Christian, it's a dead ox joined to a live ox, so to speak.
You shall teach [God’s Word] to your children . . . when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. —Deut. 11:19