Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Group Therapy-Religion, My husband, My son

Welcome to Group Therapy:

"My husband and I when we got married were the same religion, we both believed in God and we both were, I thought, devout in our religion. About 9 years ago my husband decided that he didn't believe in God shortly after we lost our first child. We were lucky enough to have our first son join our family a year after my first son's death. Although my husband had decided that God no longer existed or that he wasn't sure he existed, he still allows me to take my son to church. Coming up this year is a very special year in my church for my son he can be baptized, however, my husband is now telling me that he believes my son is not old enough to make an important decision such as this one and that he will not allow it until my son is an adult, which means 18.

I'm devastated and hurt and I feel a little betrayed. My religion is everything to me, my son has been allowed to be a part of that and I believe that what he receives with his baptism is important enough to help him through life. I know he will be fine. I know God understands, but it is more me and how I feel that my husband isn't holding up to his commitment with me when he told me that I could raise my child in the church regardless of how he feels about God. He says he is still holding up to his end of the bargain because he allows me to take him to church and he allows my son to be involved in all church activities. He just won't allow him to be baptized and without his permission my church feels it is best to have both parents give their blessing if living under the same roof.

I guess I'm asking your readers what they would do in my situation? Am I being over dramatic? Or am I validated in what I am feeling? Has anybody been in my situation? Any and all advice is appreciated.


***If you have any questions or problems that you would like to have addressed in Group Therapy please email me at blokthoughts@gmail dot com or realworldvenusmars @ gmail dot com.

Leave your advice in the comments, comment on other comments, and feel free to comment Anonymously.


Anonymous said...

That's a tough situation. My spouse had a crisis of faith due to a whole host of events, among them the death of his father. In the meantime, he did not oppose the baptism of our children, so I don't have personal experience with that. I prayed for many years that his heart would be healed. 11 years later, it took something major for me to see that those prayers had been answered in many small ways all along. He has recently had a change of heart, but it was something that he had to work out on his own. Despite my heartache & for the sake of marital harmony, I came to the conclusion that having contention about religion was not worth the toll it took on our marriage.

I do know a teenaged girl, who was the child of divorced parents, neither of whom provided a great home environment for her. As a result, she and her sister have had the burden of practically raising their younger siblings, and are mature beyond their years. She wanted to be baptized for many years, but her father would not allow it. When she was 15, he finally relented. In her case, she had spent her time developing and strengthening her faith and she KNEW that this was what she wanted. Although she went through a lot of frustration and heartache because of the situation, in the end it was a benefit for her, because she appreciated the value of it so much more.

None of this may help, but I do believe that God does understand. He knows you, your husband, and your son, and what is in your hearts. Fast and pray for strength, comfort and guidance. If you are determined to stay in your marriage, it is probably something that you will have to reconcile yourself with. It is one of those situations where both of you obviously have strong feelings about this. It is hard to see where a compromise could easily be made. I wish you and your family all the best, and hope that this comes to a happy resolution for all concerned in the future.

OneZenMom said...

This may come as something of a surprise coming from the godless heathen of the group, but I'm leaning more toward agreeing with you than with your husband.

You obviously have strong feelings about this and, I don't quite understand what he thinks the harm would be from his point of view.

If he has no objections to your son being involved in every other aspect of your religion, then why would he deny just this one piece of that?

Personally, I think it's great that he seems to want your son to be able to choose his own path. But he seems - to me - to be drawing his line in the sand in a funny place.

I think the important thing here is that the two of you really need to have a long talk about this aspect of your lives and your relationship and your parenting - this is not the last time this will come up.

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Some assumptions:

1) Your son is about eight years old.

2) Your husband, being an atheist, finds most religious rituals meaningless.

3) Your church has a clear understanding regarding the "age of accountability" and the act of baptism is seen as the next logical (perhaps even required) step in your son's religious training.

All which lead to further questions:

Does your son want to be baptized? Is this a sincere expression of his commitment to the faith? Or is this just something the church (or perhaps you) require that he take part in?

I think there's a difference.

In one case, your son is saying, for all to hear, that he accepts the gospel message presented by your church and is making the decision to devote his life to that message. He is sealing the deal and going public. Your husband, no doubt, sees that as completely unacceptable, for how can his own seed embrace something which he so vehemently opposes? He might see your son as a victim of brainwashing techniques, and you as the one who led him down that path.

In the other case, he may see this as your church's attempt to coerce his son into doing something which he is in no way able to understand. While rituals to him are meaningless, this one seems to go a bit too far down the road of manipulation.

This is an interesting statement:

"what he receives with his baptism"

This leads me to believe that you embrace the notion that there is something salvific about the act of baptism; that by doing it, he will be somehow "sealed" and saved for good in the eyes of the Lord. If this is the case, and your religious views are truly as important as you claim, then perhaps your husband is worried that your pressuring the boy to make a decision about faith and God before he has had a chance to explore alternative views, something that happens, a lot, during the teen years. Maybe he doesn't want your son to reach a point later in life where question his faith - and the moment will inevitably come - means dealing with accompanying guilt and shame and abandonment.

My wife and I have been on different ends of the religious spectrum for several years, and it hasn't been easy. She remains committed to her evangelical Christian faith whereas I linger elsewhere, no longer embracing much of what the organized church has to offer. This has led to numerous fruitful discussions, both with her and with my kids.

So, I guess I'm with Zen. Talk it out. Find out the roots of his objection. Why doesn't he want this to happen? It goes deeper than "he's not old enough" I assure you.

Meagan said...

I think he can wait to be baptized. I am assuming based on the info you gave that you go to a Christian church and believe all you need to go to heaven is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

I don't know why your husband is against your son being baptized. I think being baptized is a wonderful way to publicly show your acceptance of Jesus, but I know a lot of people who have been baptized and people that haven't and their faith varies.

My only advice would be to continue to pray that God finds a way into your husband's heart and continue going to church with your son.

Missty said...

I would wait. For a few reasons.I would hope the first thing would be making sure you and your husband have a loving family and relationship, then religion. So many people put religion first and relationships suffer.

Maybe because it is a HUGE issue with you, your husband is pulling the other way. Put each other first and maybe it won't be such a big deal later on.

Hubman said...

This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but here goes anyway...

My parents divorced when I was 16. Mom always has been pretty religious and spiritual (heck, her 2nd marriage was to a divorced Bishop in our church!), my dad, not so much. Years after the divorce, my mom told me she knew it was over when one day in counseling my dad declared to her "You have a Christian marriage, I don't"

I hope your marriage goes down a different path than my parents' did.

SciFi Dad said...

Something else is at play here, whether you're avoiding it or ignoring it or unaware of it.

A man who does not believe God exists, or is unsure of the fact, should not have strong feelings about the rites of Christianity. It makes no logical sense. What difference should it make to him if his son is baptized or not? Will it change his son somehow?

Again, something doesn't feel right about this story. I sense there is more to it.

DGB said...

A very tough and sensitive subject here.

It's always so hard to give advice on these tough questions without knowing everything. I find it interesting that you constantly refer to him as "my son" never "our son".

I was originally going to say that since your husband opted out of religion and has granted permission for you to continue your son's religious upbringing, that he shouldn't have so much sway in this matter.

However, I can't help but feel like there's something else going on here.

First and foremost, does your son WANT to be baptized? Secondly, I think you and your husband have a lot of talking to do. I understand that you want your son to be baptized, but he's your husband's son too and you need to be open enough to listen to his side and digest his feelings, as they are valid.

Ultimately the compromise might be to have your son baptized when he's older to fully grasp what the ceremony is all about.

Shirley said...

I know this must be hard for you, but I'd wait awhile. President Howard W. Hunter's father would not allow him to be baptized at the age of eight. He finally gave permission when President Hunter was twelve. Continue to take your son to church. Get involved with Scouts. Hopefully, your husband will be willing to come to pack meetings, or maybe even help with the pack. Continue to treat your husband with the respect he deserves. Continue to pray that his heart will be softened.

Shirley said...

I thought of a friend of ours whose father was very against the church. He would not let his wife or children be baptized. Sometimes they were allowed to go to church. At other times, he refused to let them go. Once, he burned all their church books. Our friend's amazing mother was active in her husband church for years to keep peace in the home. She even taught Sunday School there - adding quite a bit of LDS teachings to her lessons. : ) And she taught her children well at home. On Dave's 18th birthday, his father asked him what he wanted to do...and Dave told him he was being baptized. His father was upset, but Dave was an adult and had the right to make that decision. A year later, Dave left to serve a mission. While he was serving, his father finally allowed his mother to be baptized too - 20 years after she had been converted. It will all work out.