I'm stuck in an interesting situation.... First, I just joined this today, and I've been an atheist my whole life (although I consider myself more agnostic now because I find the idea of religion interesting, but I don't believe in anything)..... I've recently been asked by my boyfriend to go to his baptism (he's Seventh Day Adventist, like most of his family).... At first I tried to politely decline the invitation, explaining my discomfort in participating or going to church-related activities.... But, he just says that that's ridiculous. He's known for a long time that I'm not religious, and is generally fairly respectful of that.
But this he says is extremely important to him. I feel bad not wanting to go though, as much as I'd love to support him. But, I feel like he's very upset I don't want to go. We've been dating for over a year and a half, but have been close since middle school (I'm in high school). I don't want this to become an issue in our relationship, and religion hasn't been an issue so far, but this is different to him for some reason. I have been told that religion would be a big issue for us by friends, but to be honest, neither of us cared.
Anyways... I am kinda looking for advice as to what I should do. Should I go even though it's against my (nonexistent) beliefs? (If so, how would I let him know that there are limits to what I'm comfortable with)...Or should I say no? (If no, then how should I tell him)....
I don't want to upset him or hurt his feelings and I want to show I respect his beliefs, but I don't know how to go about this situation. I don't really have anyone to ask since my parents are strictly atheist and would just say to not go and I don't know many others in my situation.
Any advice is appreciated! And thank you so much ahead of time!
Yeah.... He did say that someone might try to convert me, but to just ignore it... But that's kinda hard for me.... I'm quiet around others I don't know, and I don't want his family to get the wrong impression of me (especially since they already aren't too fond that I'm not religious and we're dating).... I feel like I wouldn't be able to speak up and say anything (or if I do, it might not work) if someone tried to convert me....
I have on occasion resorted to telling such evangelists that I am a Catholic. It's funny when they fall all over themselves trying to convince me that they love Catholics.
How long have you been with this boyfriend? Should you revisit that decision?
It's hard to calculate how such an issue might work out and what your boyfriend means - is he testing you how serious you take your relation? Or is it a step in trying to convert you? Or a show of something he and you don't share? Keep us informed!
I don't think it's a test of any sort..... And we've already come to an understanding of not converting eachother (something that people have tried many times since I finally said I was atheist in middle school).... We both have a strong understanding of why neither of us would like to have anyone try to convince us that our beliefs are wrong, so we never test eachother's boundaries regarding that.... I feel like maybe he's not seeing it from my side though... as someone who has only been to church a few times and wasn't fond of it (with the exception of a universal church that was very casual and talked more about politics and acceptance of anyone).... I think he might be under the impression that I am just avoiding any religious-related activities more than anything and maybe he even thinks that I am just using my beliefs as an excuse to not go.... but I am truly awkward and uncomfortable with being in churches..... It sorta feels like I'm lying by being there, you know? I also don't feel comfortable participating in prayer, singing, discussions, etc..... I don't know how I can phrase how I feel so as to not come across (unintentionally) rude or disrespectful of his beliefs... Any ideas of what to say?
I've been to church and synogauges before for weddings, etc, out of respect to family and friends. You'll be fine. You can even ask people questions out of intellectual curiosity. I find it a bit weird that atheist parents would get upset for you going, how theistic of them. Or maybe you truly don't know how your parents would react. Just don't go in there with a negative mindset or pass bad vibes. They probably won't even know that you're atheist.
It's not so much that they'd get upset, as say that it would be easier not to go (and they would probably try to convince me to not go)... but maybe I am wrong on that..... And yes, I try my best not to be negative about things like this, but it's hard not to be nervous..... The thing is, he's brought up in conversations before that lots of the people from his church (friends, family, family friends, etc.) know he's dating someone who isn't religious.... (Don't ask how, I have no idea...). I feel like I'd get lots of comments about why I should be religious and such..... something that I would try to politely change topic or decline because in the past (when I first told someone I was Atheist) I was told it wasn't possible and was wrong and stupid of me... which (for lack of better word) was offensive.... I don't know....
It'll be one thing if he lies and tries to hide you from his family. He wants you to go because this is important to him and he wants your support and loves your company. That's completely a reasonable reason to go and you're not there to satisfy the people of that church because you have no emotional investment on them. If you still feel uncomfortable ask your boyfriend if he can make sure that he looks after you when you are there.
Thank you! I'm going to be talking to him this weekend about it, and I'll ask him...
Going will not hurt you in any way but it appears this situation is causing problems already. One way of knowing is to go and see. If the whole group seems to know in advance that you are atheist this maybe should not have been told. If you go and the BF seems happy and supported, then fine. Trying to convert you is not the normal function of a baptism.
I've never been to a baptism (outside of for my cousin, but we were from out-of-town so no one really talked to us much. Plus, I was little, before I came out as an atheist)..... So I guess I don't know if I should really expect to have people try to convince me of religion of any sort. But, I do feel like it's a possibility.
Also, if I was to go to his baptism, what would I do when they hold their normal ceremonies and such? I don't know what all they do, but I always feel awkward when I'm the only one not singing or praying or whatever.... So what do they do when a baptism is happening that day (a Saturday, since he's SDA)?
Ha... well... We aren't exactly at the point of those discussions (I'm just becoming a high school senior).... And yeah, it's not so much the baptism. For me, it's more of the morals (I can't think of a good word for it now) behind going. It might just be me, but going to religious events feels like I'm lying.... I don't know how to describe it.... But can I ask why you think that because the baptism is important to him, why I should be concerned? He isn't going to make me go by any means, but he really wants me to.... And I want to be there for things that are important for him, just as he would do for me... But religion isn't something that's been part of anything with us so far, aside from the occasional conversation.