How can an atheist/catholic marriage succeed? - Catholicism atheism children | Ask MetaFilter
The Seven Benefits of a Relationship Between an Atheist and a Believer . side of the coin for me,” says Jack, an atheist married to a Catholic. An unlikely friendship has made me think that more Catholics and atheists should have relationships — for their own good and the greater good. Catholics are Catholic because of the relationship with God the Church espouses , .. Older Car Buying Advice with Snowflake Details Inside!.
I'm agnostic, married to a Catholic. The one thing I think is that you have to understand that even if she has progressive values, things you consider obvious may never be simple for her. From pre-natal testing to end-of-life care. If the biggest question is whether hell comes up at school that will actually be the easy one.
It can totally be okay.
Could a relationship between an atheist and a Catholic work out? : atheism
But if she really grapples with questions of Catholic faith, it's not just about pressure over First Communion dresses from grandma.
It is about her approaching life's issues with a relationship with a dogmatic, difficult, historic, deeply beautiful regardless and profoundly felt relationship with both the institution and well, God. If she does feel that way you really in my opinion should not propose unless you see some beauty in that; in her capacity to, well, believe at least enough to show up. You can't, I think, take lightly the idea that you would have to decide if you are "loyal opposition" - not agreeing with the Church but respecting that your wife does - or gatekeeper, trying to shield your kids from your wife's religious twist.
And that goes both ways; if you've done the RCIA etc. Can she respect that from a Catholic viewpoint you are refusing the greatest gift of a relationship with the being who loves you the most?
The Jesuits taught me to question everything including what they were telling me. When that was pointed out, the Jesuit scholastic nodded and winked. I think it is possible to over-think this, to over-analyse it, and to derail a potentially loving and excellent life together getting hung up on hypothetical situations that might occur in 10 years!
What if you die? What if she dies? What if one of you gets a revelation and changes to the other person's belief system? These are all possibilities that will change the outcomes of these other hypotheticals quite radically. Then this is a lot of stress and potential for failure for no good reason at all. What I would suggest is a much more big picture view of your shared position as a couple.
For example "we'll decide these things together, and our parents' views will not be an initial point of the decision making process". Let things work themselves out.
Trust, mutual respect, mutual love and affection will help deal with the issues as they arise. We're still relatively early on in our relationship - even though we've nominally agreed on how to handle kids, we're not there yet - but a lot of this has already come up, often painfully.
Your job as, I'm sure, a very logical atheist, who still loves your girlfriend, is to come to terms with that. If your girlfriend behaves in a way that is contrary to Catholic doctrine, but she claims to still espouse that doctrine - say, she's totally in favor of premarital sex but still considers it a sin - it will drive you crazy.
You will think she is hypocritical. You will be infuriated by what appears to be her rejecting all logic and reason by having two directly opposing thoughts in her head and claiming to be in favor of both of them, because you certainly don't do that - you logically reject the thought that doesn't make sense with your observations! Your job is then to start learning about the concept of "Natural Law", and understanding that stuff like this is where the famous Catholic Guilt comes from, and you just have to deal with it.
You will not convince her that this is not the right way to think. You will not convince her to drop one or the other belief. You will eventually start to understand the very nuanced difference between "belief" and "opinion" and that at the end of the day, her opinion is what matters. It will keep driving you nuts, but you will eventually start to understand, if not to comprehend.
You will still respect her intelligence and her faith. If you can handle that, go to Step 2. But I'm still a proud American because I am not my government.
Similarly, my fiance is still a proud Catholic. Individual practitioners are not the Vatican. Separate them in your mind. Catholics are Catholic because of the relationship with God the Church espouses, not because they were big fans of the Inquisition. If Step 2 is okay, go on to Step 3. First off, if it is a Catholic wedding, you will need to go through Catholic pre-marital counseling.
This does not involve telling you not to use condoms or how to be a good Catholic. It is in fact halfway decent pre-marital counseling. More on this later. Additionally, if you were never baptized, then the marriage you are having is not actually a sacrament for her. Realize that this is painful for her and that she is giving something significant up to do this for you. Even my fiance, for whom this will be a sacrament I was baptized, thanks to my grandparents struggles with the fact that we won't have the spiritual marriage he's been raised to understand two people can have.
Yes, you're doing her a favor by deigning to be married in her church, but she's doing you a pretty big one as well. Then do a bit of priest-shopping to find one who is okay with you and whom you're comfortable with.
They are out there. Remember, individual Catholics are not the Vatican. As long as the answer to "Why does Daddy get to sleep in on Sundays" isn't "Because he's going to hell," what's problematic about them getting an excellent education in an institution that has heavily influenced western culture for years? But the flip side to that is that she needs to agree that the kids can have an open dialogue with you as well, and that while neither of you will denigrate the other's beliefs or the lack thereofyou are both able to be open and honest with your children.
And I think letting the kids decide on confirmation makes a lot of sense. They had a Jewish student body president and a surprisingly good sense of humor about everything.
The ancient priest who taught history once told one of my brother's classmates he was an excellent argument in favor of abortion And this was in the midwestern US, not exactly a bastion of religious liberalism. If you're looking around at schools, evaluate them as you would any other public or private school.
Don't write them off just because of an affiliation. They still learn about evolution, don't worry. And finally, on to Step 5. It's going to keep coming up. You're going to have to keep negotiating and finding middle grounds. Maybe one of your kids will be gay, or maybe one will decide they want to enter the priesthood. You're both going to have to be okay with either of those.
You should also be clear about what you are and aren't okay with for your own practices. My fiance would go to Mass weekly if he had the time he often doesn't due to his work travel but I have 0 interest in ever going, except at Christmas because I enjoy Christmas services as a cultural thing. That you go once or twice a month is surprising to me. Is that something you're willing to continue doing, even once you have kids? And how will you each side with the other when one set or the other of your parents tries to interfere with raising kids?
What if her parents offer to pay your kids' way through Catholic school but your parents say they won't pitch in a dime for the kids' education if you do that? At what point do you say, we're a team, we're the parents, it's our decision, and side with your spouse against your own parents on principle? Also, one extra thing I would encourage you to think about. When you do discuss or even argue these sorts of things, make sure she understands that it's not just you hating on Catholics, it's you being uncomfortable with religion in general.
Yeah, many of us feel a bit odd about Catholicism given the political role the Church has played throughout history, but when it comes down to it you probably wouldn't be super excited if she were a hardcore Presbyterian or something either. In my own relationship, especially as we plan hymns, readings, etc for the wedding ceremony, this has come up a lot. But it has been done and it can be done, it just takes a lot of understanding and patience on both sides. Speaking as a religious historian, I think it would be extraordinarily helpful, with regard to your relationship with your girlfriend, for you to nuance your understanding of Christianity as a historical phenomenon.
Catholicism and, for that matter, Protestantism has a very complex historical legacy that is difficult to dismiss so summarily if you are more familiar with the nuance of it. Certainly Western Christianity has had an intimate role in imperialism, persecution, sexism, protecting criminality, etc. However it has also catalyzed socially-liberal freedom movements, such as abolition think of Wilberforce, or of Northern Methodists in the Civil Warpost-colonialism liberation theologyCivil Rights Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conferenceetc.
In your question, you seem to be fine with your girlfriend holding privatized progressive ethical convictions, but uncomfortable with an official institutional dimension because of its relationship with oppression; I would suggest that this dichotomy that you wish to draw between institutional religion on the one hand and social justice on the other is far too simplistic and binary.
And let's not even go into the ways in which strands of popularized utopian liberalism or secularism have enabled totalitarianism and oppression - eugenics, for one, along with a whole litany of arguable others.
Obviously this isn't a graduate religious history seminar, and I'm not trying to reroute the thread to create this, or to defend religion in its totality. But I think that your practical situation with your girlfriend would be improved if you took more nuance onboard. Your current attitude towards religion seems to veer towards the monolithic, condescending, and doctrinaire. Having a sense of the historical complexity of Catholicism and Western Christianity more generally would render you more sensitive to and empathetic with your girlfriend's beliefs, and the role that the Church as an institution has played in shaping them yes, even the progressive ones you approve of.
Benefits of Atheist-Catholic Relationships
This would hopefully facilitate a compromise that is based on genuine respect, even in the face of ultimate disagreement, rather than grudging toleration. I don't come from a hardcore atheist background, my parents don't have a beef with the Catholic Church.
My partner was only passively Christian, a twice-a-year church goer and a protestant not a catholic. Yet this question became quite an issue between us. What we agreed was this. Their mother can take our children to church as much as she likes.
I can teach them the theory of evolution and in discussions let them explore and deduce all that flows from it, including the non-existence of god.
Will your wife-to-be be happy for you to teach your children about evolution from an early age? I do not come from a Catholic background, but went to a Catholic school for a few years; I got a great education and it did not inhibit me from becoming the atheist I am today, for what that's worth.
When I was living in NYC, I knew a devout Shi'ite Muslim who sent his daughter to the local Catholic school for the same reason—he wanted her to have the best available education—and he seemed pleased with how it was going. I agree that you should talk all this out in advance, and I'm glad you're going to church with her and generally accepting her beliefs without sharing them.
Religion does not have to be a battleground. There's a lot of great suggestions here, but one thing I would like to point out is that in your case, you need to remember that this is not purely a question of religion but of culture and religion. I highlight the above because some in some cultures questioning authority, regardless of whether it's religious leaders or government is just not done not saying that's the case here, but it could be.
The way your GF and her family approach practice their religion is heavily influenced by their culture, as is yours. You touch on it briefly when you acknowledge that her parents reaction is perhaps more going to be more heavily-weighted because of that. Not to scare you, but that culture piece just makes it that much more challenging, and that much more important that you both find a way to discuss this now openly, honestly, and without judgement.
It is unlikely that there is a perfect solution so you both need to identify the things that are deal breakers, the ones that are good for compromise, and the ones that are relatively unimportant and go from there. It's also unlikely that both your opinions and feelings won't change over time, and it needs to be clear that whatever you come up with now is not necessarily set in stone.
I'm a white, 5th generation Canadian with a strong Anglican background and my husband is an Egyptian-born and raised Muslim, and after 3. The key to our success so far is our willingness to have that conversation, or pieces of it, as often as necessary. That being said, those recurring conversations are not about one of us trying to 'overturn' a decision that we weren't happy with in the first place, but are about making sure that our decided approach is reflective of our current perspective.
I learned very quickly not to concede on issues that were actually quite important to me since it leads to a constant undermining of the discussion, and resentment.
Corb is an atheist, and I'm a lapsed Catholic who still pops into church every now and again, with an enormous Catholic family. Please feel free to memail me, either for insight from me, or if you want me to pass it along to Mr. Corb and get his answer on stuff. This will be resolved for you if she wants a Catholic wedding: This was the case until very recently: She doesn't have to succeed, or even think she has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
She has to try. For the minimum bare-bones action on this, getting the children baptized Catholic is enough for them to be Catholic in the eyes of the Church. The Church would like them to go to Church, and read their catechism, and go to Catholic school, and get confirmed, and have a formal First Confession, and all that.
But it's not necessary to "be Catholic. In terms of Catholic school: They will talk about God at some points, yes. They may depending on the school have formal religious classes, they will have priests wander through the schools sometimes to talk about some stuff.
But one thing that's really important to remember in the school debate, is that they are effectively heavily subsidized private schools. The church or parish eats a lot of the cost of them for Catholics. Do you live in an area with a very good public school system? Or do you live in an area with struggling public schools? If it's the latter, and you don't have enough income to easily afford non-Catholic private school on your own, your potential fiance may well want to send the kids to Catholic school simply because it's the best school you can afford.Can a Catholic Marry a Non-Catholic?
However, it does have the problem of meaning that most of the kids that your children socialize with would be Catholic, which is the problem that public school could fix. If you have a very good public school, and choose to raise your children there, there's always the option of choosing a Catholic afterschool - or not, if you choose, and the children are going to church.
One of my strongest memories is going to church, and hearing, "And for those who are unjustly imprisoned The best friends are friends who stretch you. I see our friendship as a rare gift. Scott and I come from different perspectives now, but our conversations are no less interesting. In fact, those differing perspectives have in some ways made our discussions more lively and thought provoking. Since we are both seeking the truth, we have all sorts of things to talk about, even if we might disagree on the conclusion.
But thanks to his inquisitive mind and penchant for thoughtful inquiry, we still have plenty to talk about. And I have to trust that it might just be that intentional search for truth that will eventually lead him back to God, who is Truth Himself. Perhaps, that means God is working in the relationship in a particular way with a particular purpose in mind. Why I give doubters the benefit of the doubt.
So, how do we continue to be close friends? If there's a history of domineering, disrespect, manipulation, hostility or other outbursts, then do keep that in mind.
The cycle describes an relationship built on dominance and inequality, and the only way to break that cycle is to just get out. Watch out for a partner who refuses to allow your atheist books in the house, disallows you to go to atheist meetings, who forces you to come to religious worship, who tells you with no remorse that you deserve Hell, or doesn't allow you to talk about religion to the family. Those are all kinds of controlling behaviors, and abuse is about control. Here's a great guide about the kinds of relationship abuse, along with great extra resource links at the bottom.
Another warning bell to consider is if the two of you alright with your religious differences only because the differences are never discussed. Do the two of you avoid discing all difficult topics?
When was the last time you had a serious discussion about politics, moral qualms, money, social problems, gender structures, etc?
Do the two of you only talk about superficial stuff? If so, you might want to reevaluate if this relationship is really substantial or if you're just in the honeymoon stage of the relationship.
If there's no deeper connection, no deeper common ground, then why would you want to be in a long-term relationship with this person? Seriously consider if you're there just because it's comfortable and tough to leave. Now, it's quite all right to have topics that are avoided. If the two of you talk about social, financial, political and other issues issues, while religion is just the odd duck, then that's probably fine.
Russell and I have topics that we've just agreed to disagree on and never bring up, because they're fruitless discussions male infant circumcision, for example but we are pretty much in agreement when it comes to other debates, and we enjoy those discussions thoroughly. There's only so much time we two can spend discussing World of Warcraft and other superficial things, before our conversations would go silent.
Having these deeper connections keeps our conversations constantly new and fresh. Having deeper connections is important, and if those are lacking and have been lacking for quite awhile, then it's pretty easy to see where the relationship will go in the future: It can be tough, but really look at these outside issues.
Trying to Deconvert a Partner is Usually Not a Good Idea Perhaps a more popular question from atheists about religious partners is how to deconvert their theist partners.
That's a much trickier topic to navigate. The approach I take to this sort of question is to generalize it out. Instead of making it about religion, let's say instead, "I have a partner with a large character flaw.
How can I fix that flaw? Now, a small amount of personal change in a relationship is healthy and normal. It's part of being accommodating, loving and exchanging: In a normal relationship, there is a certain amount of change that is willingly and happily made to accommodate and improve each other.
It's a positive embracing of newer and better habits, hobbies and experiences. When it becomes unhealthy is when that change is forced or coerced, or when the change is in forbidding previously enjoyed activities.
Marry that virtuous Atheist! « Catholic Insight
If there is someone who feels continually pressured to change, then the relationship ceases to be based on mutual respect and love. Here, I recommend a deep evaluation of whether pressuring is an appropriate tactic. You might win and deconvert them, but more than likely you will just put an extra strain on the relationship.
And the thing is, religiosity is a very strong emotional and religious meme, and it is a tough thing to shake. In a way, it's like an addiction, as strong as an alcoholism. Try reframing this relationship deconversion problem as trying to get an alcoholic sober.
You can see the problem, you can see the logical gaps, you can see how it's possibly destroying their lives and eating up their money, you can see everything. And you deeply care about this person, and would love for them to be freed from this one affliction that is ruining an otherwise perfectly good person. But anyone who has tried to help an alcoholic will tell you how fruitless it is.
That person is in an addiction and sees no reason to change. You will have to accept that probably they will never want to see the light. You will probably have no influence on them leaving their religion or their alcoholism.
Now, this feels hypocritical for me to write, because I used to be a Christian who was in a relationship with atheists, and now I am quite the atheist myself, so I know change is possible. But I feel like my story is merely one anecdote, and I prefer to trust general facts instead of individual stories, even if that individual story happened to me.
This is tough to do, but an essential part of being a skeptic. And looking back, I don't think I would have deconverted while I was dating my high school atheist sweetheart. At that time someone pointed out to me the bad things the bible says about women, and I had flippantly excused it with "Oh, that's only The Old Testament.
I did change my mind later, but that was only because it was something I came to slowly, and independently, through a love of skepticism and evaluation and not until I was single. I changed not because of who I was with, but because I chose to follow the facts and they slowly led me to disbelief. I don't think my story is all that typical of theists. After all, most of the theists I know are still theists. There are always those alcoholics who independently decide to kick the habit and cure themselves.
There are those religious people who slowly realize that their faith is based on nothing. But it shouldn't be your job to sacrifice yourself on the unlikely chance that they will spontaneously change themselves, or that you can be the one to "fix" them.
It likely won't happen. That spark and desire for change has to come within, and there's nothing you can do to put that into someone else's brain. As another example, Russell and I took a premarital class to waive a marriage license fee, and in it the director gave a story about how on his honeymoon he flipped out and punched through the glovebox of the car.
A scary story by itself, but then he then he continued that kind of behavior for 9 more years before finally figuring out that was unacceptable. He slowly realized he needed to change, and turned himself around. I'm glad that he had that self-realization, but would you have wanted his partner to have stayed through that for 9 years on the hope that he would change?
Do you think that there was anything this woman could have said to make him re-evaluate his behavior, or would he just have ignored her? The truth is that something clicked in his head on its own, and he self-motivated his own change. A good method for self-evaluation is to pretend that a friend is in a similar situation, and ask yourself how you would give them advice.