This is our truth, tell us yours
This post was inspired by @bishtraining and his #Talkforaminute idea. Seriously go check out his site, especially if you have children, meet children, work with children or once saw a child on the bus and instantly moved seats.
I am, as observant reader are no doubt aware, a Christian. The people I am closest too are not, if we were to use the language of polyamory my primary, and father of my children, is not. When you are in a relationship having different views can be one of the things that keeps it alive, debating, throwing ideas around, learning, and yes even changing. Not sharing a religion however is one of those things that is considered to make a relationship harder, as if only relationships where partners agree about everything 100% can succeed.
Oddly no one assumes that because I am pro palestine and one of my partners is pro Israel we have irreconcilable differences, or that my movement on animal testing from total opposition to holding a baby in my arms and believing it will always matter more to me should lead to divorce. It has led to a few late night heated debates, but then its only when you no longer have anything to say to a partner that you need to start worrying.
Reading this excellent post by a Christian on how survivors are often told their lived experience disqualifies them from speaking reminded me tho that some people view those of us with faith in a very strange way. To compare God to an abusive boyfriend may sound extreme but it is a pretty common theme amongst atheists. Dawkins of course perhaps the most famous, saying that teaching children about religion is child abuse. Many criticised his stance, but still the language of abuse and mental illness is used to describe people of faith.
If you have faith, and are in a relationship with someone who does not share that faith you have to be able to respect each other, to not see this as an opportunity for conversion and proselytizing, and thats from both sides. I do not evangelize to my partners, luckily I think I am on pretty sound theological ground here. Even if I am on less sound ground with other aspects of my life! But they must also not preach their world view to me, and that includes not suggesting its some weakness or failing in me that causes me to believe what I do. Its that respect word in action, it is easy to say “I respect your belief” then follow it with that almighty “but”. When someone does so this usually means they do not respect it at all.
Of course this goes both ways, when the father of my children explains to them he does not believe in God, respecting means not arguing, not turning the dinner table into a choose me battleground. Instead modelling that most Christian of virtues, listening. Things are more complicated when you have children, especially if like me you want them to attend church. I bet you can guess what I am going to suggest as a solution, yup, communication. I know, hardly earth shattering but there it it.
When the younglings were very younglings we sat down and talked about them attending church. His response was a demonstration of what respect in action looks like, he considered someone without a knowledge of the bible and christianities part in the history of the UK to be poorer when it came to history, art, and literature. There was no, but religion damages children, for he respected the fact that I did not want them to be damaged, he respected my view even while not sharing it.
Or in an example perhaps more fitting for an occasional sex blog once Carter and I were exploring some empty hillsides, and he took some of my favouirte pics of me. Afterwards I asked him why he had not taken the opportunity to use an old chapel and church yard as backdrop. His reply was simple, he may not have faith, but he respected those who do too much to trespass upon their sacred spaces.
It might seem trite to say that it all comes down to respect for difference, the challenge is that many people claim to respect the beliefs of others, while their actions show they do not. When you are in a relationship there is no hiding place. If you really do not respect the beliefs of your partner and partners it will come out, and perhaps that is why, for so many religion does become an insurmountable obstacle.