Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Difference of Religion

My topic of choice today can bring out a lot of debate.  I want to start by saying this is NOT a debate.  This is not a “My religion is better” forum.  This isn't a place where flaming or derogatory comments will be allowed.  Those who wish to leave those comments, rest assured -I will be monitoring the site today and I will delete your comment within minutes.  Shelle and I have discussed it and if need be we WILL make this post a moderated comments post.  Please don't put me in a position to have to do so.

Whew!  Okay religion.  I'll need to tell you a bit of background before I get to the point.  My husband and I were both raised in homes where we went to church weekly, took religious education classes and followed the church calendar (the specific religion is not important because that has nothing to do with what I want to discuss).  We were married in our church and agreed to raise our children there as well.

When I turned 18 and left home I discovered that the religion of my childhood didn't fit what I believed in.  There were significant issues within the church that I did not feel I could support. After a year of searching myself and reading and contemplating I have found what I had been looking for.  Now that I can decide for myself what I believe I've chosen differently than the religion I was raised in.  I've spoken to my parents and they are fine with my decision.

The problem as I see it is that while my religious beliefs have altered in recent years my husbands have not.  

We are not particularly religious.  We do not currently attend services even though there are two English-speaking churches here representing both of our religious beliefs.  I would like to attend but I hesitate to go on my own  The expat community is a very small one and I know my solo attendance would not go unnoticed.

However, I can’t hide my choices and my husband can not hide what he believes.  Thus far it hasn't been much of an issue other than agreeing to disagree.  Neither of us is asking the other to change what we believe.  But in terms of raising our two children it does give me pause. Next year would be significant for our seven year old in my husbands religion.

How do we decide which church to attend?  I made the promise to raise the children under a certain religion and I am willing to do that even though it is no longer the religion I chose for myself.  Our daughter has not yet been baptized due to where we currently live. This is another issue that we have been dancing around.

I am asking all of you for advice.  How can we peacefully coexist in a home of two religions?  They are both Christian religions and are not overly different (I don't feel his family would be happy with my religious choice however). Which do we bring up our children in?  What is a fair compromise to our differences without either of us becoming angered, feeling hurt or slighted?  Do you face similar issues in your home?

Let me reiterate- this is not open to discussing which religion is better, this is not a place to debate such a thing and it will not be tolerated.  I am asking for advice on an issue inside my personal relationship that comes down to a difference in beliefs.  I'd enjoying hearing what you have to say within the boundaries of respecting each other.


Kritta22 said...

Wow! This would be really really hard.
In my world, my religion pretty much dictates what I do with my every moment. I like it that way. But to not have my hubby on the same page would be tough.

You are a strong person for even going into it.

I am not sure what to suggest. I think 7 years old is just starting to gasp what religion is so maybe ask the kids.

Although that is going to mostly be around where is fun and who goes where with friends.

Gosh I don't know.

I'm gonna think about it.

The Blonde Duck said...

Why not pick a neutral Christian religion that you both agree on? For example, if you're Catholic and he's Baptist, you could take your kids to a Methodist church and fill in the rest of your beliefs at home. That way they'd still get the foundation of Christian beliefs, and you and your husband could tell them your own personal beliefs at home, letting them decide what they wanted to follow.

K said...

My parents went through what you are experiencing: my dad was raised as a Baptist (he had to go several times a week) and my mom was raised as a Catholic (with very devoted parents). When they married my mom was breaking away from the Catholic church for not believing in certain things, but they struggled with how to raise my sisters and me. In the end they decided to introduce us to a few different religions by attending different churches, but then they let us decide what faith we wished to follow. As a result, my sisters and I are very spiritual people but we don't associate ourselves with one particular church. I am glad I had it this way; however, I do wish I had more exposure to learning about the stories of the Bible when I was young.

Then I met my husband, who was raised in one religion by attending church every Sunday. We've tried out several different churches since we married 5 years ago, and we've only found one where I feel very comfortable there (it was laid back, lots of singing, and educational), but then we moved away. We haven't found one yet. I do appreciate going to the services of my husband's church and find their beliefs agree with me, so I think we'd like to raise our daughters with these beliefs, but I still want to expose them to other religions and spiritual ideas.

Sorry to have rambled on so long, but this subject is such an interesting one!

P.S. To make matters more interesting at home, my dad is a Republican and my mom is a liberal Democrat! I heard a lot of interesting debates growing up! Maybe that could be a topic here on this blog one day! How to raise children in a home with opposing political views :)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

As they get older the kids will choose anyway which way they want to go with religion.

I say...introduce them to both...just talk about what you love about both of them when you are around the kids, try not to demean the others religion, at all really, but especially when the kids are around.

I'm sure you are probably already doing all that.

As for myself...I'm lucky I guess that we both believe the same...I'm strongly involved in my religion and so is my husband...I honestly don't know what I would do if he didn't believe the same as me...it would be way hard.

We live our religion...what we believe kinda directs where we go together.

So Andrea...tough one. It's good that your guys' relationship is a good enough one that you agree to disagree...

I'm no help. But thanks so much for sharing with us something completely personal! :)

Missy said...

I think, just like you did, the decision is going to be up to the children. I can appreciate that you are trying hard to do the right thing and not hurt anyones feelings. If you let the kids explore both religions, since they are so similar, they will have a good foundation to work from. Let them know that all religions are different. Some more extreme than others. See where it goes from there.

Missty said...

Great topic. We have two sets of friends who are in this very situation. Both seem to be handling it with - they expose the children to the good of both religions - and let them choose what fits with them as they get older.

Not sure what I would do. We are both the same religion. But I have issues with some things with in my religion. I guess every religion has issues, now and then. Thank goodness, my husband and I are on the same page with this sort of thing.

Can't wait to come back later today and see what others have wrote.

Me said...

I was raised by parents who were of different (very different) religious beliefs. As kids we went to church with both and heard from both about beliefs. We were allowed to choose once we got old enough. My parents had a solid relationship and huge amounts of faith so we grew up fine (okay, fine in my opinion). Funny, we are all now going to different churches...but really, it's not the name on the door that's important. Is it?

Susan said...

I guess it all is based on the extent of disruption or conflict this is bringing to your relationship and family? I was raised by parents of two very different religions. We were never pushed one way or another, just taught about both. I'm the oldest of 5 kids, and I think it has made us respect all religions or simply realize the fact that there are so many differences in what people's origins and beliefs can be... It's a personal decision... and the beauty is the "right" answer comes from within you and your husband together. Good luck!

rebel said...

I live in the Bible belt of the Ozarks and grew up in a time when children usually were raised to attend the church of their father. My husband and I are both Christians but grew up in two very different churches. My children attended my husbands denomination but I have always explained the differences between the two religions and how I feel. I always tell them to trust in God and he will lead them the right and only way, the way to him. I just feel there is no wrong or right as long as your personal relationship with God is true.
I feel for your concern here for your children and I hope you will be able to find the right way for you and them. God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

My advice would be this....

Since you agreed and made a promise to raise your children in your husbands religion, you should honor that agreement. If you do not, he may feel betrayed in what you agreed to, before the children came into the picture.

How significant of an issue this becomes all depends on what type of religion you came from and what type you are now. What I mean by that is, if your previous religion is one that declares that if you are not part of that religion then you will not make it to heaven. Then of course that will be very signifcant to your husband and him wanting the kids raised in his religion.

But, if it was a religion that teaches that all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ and you're saved and it doesn't matter what church you belong to, then it wont be a very significant issue other than we agree to disagree.

With that said, since you seem to be okay with letting your children be raised with your husbands religion, to keep peace and tranqility in the home, I would honor your promise and allow the children to be raised in your husbands religion.

When the kids get old enough and ask why you do not attend church with them, you can explain that you attend the church you do, because it makes you happy.

I am just saying....

Mr. Anonymous

I am Harriet said...

It's not so much about religion as is is about what kind of person you are and how you conduct yourself as a human being. I like to focus on being a good person rather than participating in ceremonies because someone else says that I have to participate.

wendy said...

That can be hard to deal with sometimes. My husband and I are from different faiths ---it's ok. We HAVE A TON of differences between us actually, but we believe in some of the same fundamental things of life and keep our balance that way. He doesn't critize mine and I don't critize his. It is a matter of respect, listening to each other, learning from each other. Sometimes my husband is not even sure he believes in a God. Luckily though ------- for us, we are not raising children. This is a second marriage for me.
In this life I think it is so important to embrace each others feelings and learn from them.
Even though my husband is never what he considers himself a "religious" person (raised Catholic, but not practicing, --but like you said, the NAME of the faith is not what matters here) BUT - he is one of the most Christ like people I know --through his actions!!!

Susan said...

Go Mr. Anonymous!

TisforTonya said...

wow - some good thoughts on a tough situation.

I commend you for not making it a big issue - for respecting his decisions (and he yours).

Hold to your commitments as far as raising the kids - let them see that you respect their fathers' and both of your families' choices - they will see without it being said that you have made other choices and they will know thereby that they are free to choose as they wish when they want to look around.

Religious exploration can be extremely healthy...
barring scary cults there isn't a whole lot of danger out there in challenging your current faith if you have a solid belief...

but as you said, your basic beliefs are similar - if you are close enough in your beliefs to prayer together and teach truths at home that reflect the tenets you can agree on - keep that part up.

And good luck to you!

Unknown said...

I left a comment but it apparently didn't go through. Oi!

I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts and comments. I don't know what we will end up doing. I will raise the kids to what I did agree, that is fair and I have told my husband that. At the same time my husband isn't practicing his religion so I do take the lead on things like reading the bible with our son. I'd like our kids to attend church (of any kind at this point) but a lot depends on when and where we will move.

Thank you to everyone who chimed in. I'm really glad this wasn't a 'problem' discussion. Even Mr Anonymous' comments were fair and that was all I was asking for.

Mark said...

I would say that you should allow your children to attend both churches for a period of time and allow them to choose which one resonates with them. In the end this is what they will do anyway, weather it be now or when they become adults. I think it would be healthy for them to make that choice now once they have been exposed to both. Good luck.

MakingChanges said...

Shortly after we were married hubby and I hit a rough spot with religion. There have been a couple of times since then when we still have had to have a heart to heart on the subject. It all came down to what we agreed to when we got married and started having kids. It is a hard one when your hubby isn't really an active participant in his religion, but for me, I am. I needed to know that what my hubby agreed to would stick.

Each family has their own way to deal with this issue. Good luck with it, as your children grow.

I think the most important thing to remember is just to teach your children and then when they can make their own choice, let them. You made yours, your hubby made his and they should make their own. Obviously that freedom has been important to you as you have ventured toward your own belief system.

I don't envy your position (especially since I have been there, don't that, got the t-shirt).

Seriously though, good luck!

vailian said...

My father was a church organist as a second job all his life... but it meant we had to change churches every time we moved! So I got an introduction to a wide range of denominations...
I think we all need a faith of whatever kind to give our lives some moral structure, and I feel that societies can only remain stable over generations if this structure keeps its shape. But it can be a source of tension when varying beliefs are percieved as a threat, as many of your commenters indicate. And it can be taken too far, as the growing number of religious conflicts prove.
As I was growing up, I was convinced that the world had grown out of wars of religion. Sadly we are now living in a time when faith-based wars are increasing. During the Cold War, the battles were over ideology, which seemed to me just as idiotic. Some guys invent an ideology and then are arrogant enough to kill others over it.
What is the difference with religion? Also invented by people and who am I to judge which religion is superior?
We all find our own personal brand of faith (and this changing daily, probably) and the act of searching that this involves is an ongoing proof of our humanity.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Wow, this is super hard. My brain is too fried right now from reading papers all day to give any good advice, but I love your signature at the bottom.

Just saying.

Wish I had me a cute signature like that.

Who cares what religion you are if you've got a cute signature.

And a cute green coat.


DGB said...

I agree with Anonymous that you should honor the promise you made before you got married.

That said, things sometimes change. People's opinions change. And sometimes there needs to be discussion about this change.

I think you both need to ask yourselves, what does religion mean to you? Why is this particular faith so important? Does your husband really subscribe to the aspects of his faith? Or is it more comfortable because it's familiar?

I was in this situation once...I'm Jewish, she was not. I was not practicing a lot when we were making choices, but came to realize that my religion was important to me as part of my culture and my identity. So for us, it became a deal breaker.

I think you both need to stay open minded about it and openly discuss your feelings. I don't think it's enough to just say that someday the kids will decide for themselves. We know that kids will tend to believe what their parents believe...at least for a while. I think if this is important to you guys, you need to come to an understanding together.

"Cookie" said...

That's a hard one!

Partly b/c you're "deciding" the religion of a seven year old but stated that you found a different religion when you were 18 compared to what religion you were raised with. But saying that, if you want to attend services and your husband does not..... then why not start your child off by taking him to "church" with you.

I'm a firm believer that children need to have some form of religious base and attend "church" on a regular basis. THat's my opinion of course. Saying that.... My husband and I are of the same religion so I'm not facing the choices you are. I think I'm going to spend the day thinking about this!

Unknown said...

AS Christian's it is presumable that you both enjoy and learn from the teachings of the bible? In the New Testament, James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not."

So if the bible contains the historical and loving teachings from God and the Savior that you both believe in; why not work together and individually to seek out, decide and then pray for the answers that would resolve your dilemma.

James 1:6 "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Have you been feeling like a tossed wave?

The internet is nice for exploring, researching and surveying, but the ultimate source for what you want to know is from humble and sincere prayer.