Can You Love Someone With A Religious Faith?
Several times I have read AN members mentioning their religious or even very religious spouse, mostly I remember men talking about their wives.
So I am puzzled. For me, love needs the mutual appreciation and respect for the other as for an equal person. But I consider religious faith as a form of mental illness or at least a serious flaw in their thinking, so I have no respect for religious people, only condescension and compassion.
Logically, I cannot love a religious man or one, who has similar absurd beliefs like astrology. I perceive some invisible chasm between them and me.
Christians are supposed to be tolerant. But what is tolerance between people of incompatible basic values other than the resignation of not being able to share intellectual intimacy?
Are mixed couple having any seriously incompatible attitude concerning religion or politics formed of persons reciprocally taking advantage of each other?
Are mixed couples those who just follow their instincts - the man wants a body, the woman his money, both serving their instinctive urge to procreate?
Do mixed couples sacrifice their own emotional needs in favor of the survival of their genes?
My best friend who I've been very close to for years is a Christian. Her beliefs are her own and don't come from any sense of pride or tradition like I've found a lot of religious types to be guilty of. Sure, I believe there are rational explanations for all the things she attributes to her god or faith or whatnot, but it's not something that would have deterred me from engaging a relationship if I wanted to pursue one with her (which I haven't). Just like most women, marriage is the ultimate goal for her, and she will only marry someone who shares her faith. I would certainly prefer someone that is Atheist for myself as that is a pretty important aspect of my character in relation to the society I live in, but I'm not prepared to say that it's a deal-breaker.
On the other hand... I feel like I've become too picky when it comes to women. An intelligent, attractive, atheist that shares my humor and ethics and also finds me attractive... I've got a better chance at winning the lotto.
(I hope I'm not duplicating what I wrote earlier since it doesn't seem to have posted. I also am a single atheist.)
If God doesn't exist, then how can it matter? God is an invisible odorless tasteless untouchable orange sitting on the coffee table. Who cares? Where God DOES matter is as an amplifier on the emotions -and religious people have no monopoly on emotions as countless communist dictatorships have proven. Emotions are amplified by God thus: I love this, so God loves it too; I hate this, so God hates it too; conflicts between God and the self are conflicts WITHIN the self. God, as such, is the source of nothing.
Find someone you like, whose problems you can deal with, who shares your morals and values, and stick with them. A detail like God is not worth being alone for.
Astrology is definitely pushing the limits though. If they read ALL the astrology columns, pick them at random, or merely consider them to be very generalized good advice that is not written in stone, it's merely eccentric.
At the opposite end, this is getting into some serious wackiness. I've been trying to give a woman her favorite movie, "Serendipity", for the last week. I had never heard of it when I bought it for her. It's about an overpaid, underworked man & woman who engage in high-stakes new age fatalism that somehow manages to get them married at the end anyhow. I don't want this movie, or the woman, & I want her to take the movie I bought for her away from me, and she isn't cooperating.
I think it's possible, but the thing is can he/she love you back and respect you beliefs or lack therof? For all one knows, he/she may be with you just for the intent of proselytizing or "saving your soul". As long as he/she is not uber gung-ho about his/her religion, it would be O.K, but if he/she says it's God's will that he/she should be with you (or vice versa), RUN!
In the political realm, James Carville and Mary Matalin manage to have a relationship without sharing the same political beliefs.
My experience is that it isn't I who couldn't see being involved with a religious believer, but rather the religiously believing women who can't see being involved with a religious nonbeliever. This is especially true, I would suppose, for the very religious women who want to meet their mates in the afterlife and who think that that will only happen if they are both "saved," but it seems to be true a lot even of not-highly-religious women (you'd be amazed at how many women's personal ads specify--or used to specify, anyway; it's been a while--that although a man need not be religious, he must believe in God, or at least be spiritual).
I do think we should distinguish between the religious beliefs held by religious believers, on one hand, and the sincere believing of those religious beliefs by religious believers. The latter should be respected; the former should not be, unless good reason can be given for them.
Human beings sometimes have certain topics on which they are unreasonable, while being perfectly pleasant individuals in all other ways. As long as a belief does not have intolerable consequences, I don't see why it should prevent me from loving a woman who holds it.
Then again, I think of loving as largely a matter of choosing to love, posing less difficulty than the practical problems that can get in the way of people's sharing a life together. Each of us has certain must-haves or dealbreakers or both simply for living with someone as a life's partner; once those are dealt with, I'm very tolerant of differences on other points. Sadly, I've learned that not everyone else is so tolerant of individual differences in companions. I suppose they make greater demands of life's partners than I do.
I will note that different religious believers are different. My roommate (and she was only a roommate) some time ago was a woman who, partway through our time as roommates, converted to a rather fundamentalist brand of Christianity. But she remained a rational being, and we had many enjoyable theological discussions. I actually enjoy theological discussion with rational people. On the other hand, there are religious believers who seem incapable of rational discussion of religion, and such a one would be harder to deal with, I think. Nevertheless, one of the best human beings I have ever known was a girl of great faith (who, unfortunately, drowned after her religious friends directed her to a homeopathist who told her her epilepsy was caused by worms in her colon and gave her sugar pills and had her stop taking her medication). Had she lived, she would never have wanted to be involved with me, because she wanted children and I did not; but had she wanted to, and had the whole I-want-meet-my-mate-in-Heaven thing not been a problem, I'd've been happy to be involved with her.
Some of the nicest, cheeriest people I've known--some of the ones you'd most like to spend time with, when not discussing unjustified beliefs--have been New Agers, believers in all sorts of stuff and nonsense. I'd rather spend my time with a warm, loving, cheerful religious believer than with a cold, unloving, dour nonbeliever--although best, of course, would be a warm, loving, cheerful nonbeliever.
Can You Love Someone With A Religious Faith?
As opposed to hate? I dated a Jehovah Witness once...I really liked her, and I knew she was batshit crazy with her beliefs, but that didn't change my fondness. To make it quick, she dumped me because I told her I didn't believe in that stuff, and she couldn't accept that. So the question is, if you accept them, can they accept you? Look on the other side of the coin before making a commitment.
For me, the question love between a "mixed" couple (one religious, the other atheist) hinges upon the kind of religious faith. A born-again follower of Jesus would almost certainly not be suitable. The world-views of the two partners are simply inapposite. But a person raised in a Christian household who follows Christian tradition while being emotionally relaxed about religious doctrine and precepts, and willing to examine those precepts with an analytical eye, would likely make a decent pair with an atheist. The key is for both partners to approach questions of religion, morality, spirituality and so forth, from an viewpoint of curiosity and a high threshold of evidence before accepting something as "true". Whether this is approached from a theistic or atheistic origin isn't so important.
I have a coworker who self-styles as a devout Lutheran, but when pressed, this individual opines that the essential purpose of religion is to teach humility, human interdependence, the importance of mutual deference, and the golden rule. Not a word about Jesus, the gospel, Satan, sin, holy spirit or any of that tripe. Maybe that's just a ruse to garner my respect or to ensure peace in the workplace, but if sincere, then assuredly this is a form of believe that I could tolerate and even respect in a partner.
You can love anyone but ultimately a religious person will not respect you. There are an infinite situations where you have to compromise your non-beliefs and walk on eggshells. It's not worth it. Go with someone who lives in the 21st century.
I've tried it numerous times and it always ends in an argument. I think it's best to leave the religious folk to their own delusional kind. I don't mean it as an insult to them. Most of the religious people around me are seeking to looking forward to something "bigger" after death. They feel they "need" to believe in something. I had a conversation with one of my younger coworkers. She asked about my religious affiliation and I told her. She thought being an atheist had to do with lack of belief. She wanted to know what I thought of God. I told her he is a mean, misogynistic, bully. She asked what evidence I had to make such a conclusion. I cited several stories from the bible. Also, I told her that 49% of people haven't read the bible. These people claim to be religious. She countered that it didn't matter. I told her that the bible is like a guide book or instructional manual on Christianity. She told me not reading the bible was like not doing your math homework, any thoughts?
Isn't it a lot higher than 49%?
It's a hell of a lot worse than not doing your math homework. This stupid book is supposedly what's going to determine how you spend eternity, and you don't even read the damned thing? What kind of moron would do that?
It's worse than that. It's like trusting a math textbook (even without doing the homework) that sometimes asserts that 2+2=4, and in other places that 2+2=5.
Of course, if one of your axioms is that 1+1+1=1, anything can follow....
On a lighter note: there is a "proof" that 2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2:
2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8
Then round to integers.
(Yes, this tangent should be in Geek and Nerd Haven....)
1) Being an atheist *does* have to do with lack of belief, doesn't it? True, there are strong atheists (who deny God's existence) and weak atheists (who simply do not accept God's existence), but all fail to accept God's existence. (But there are two conventions on the use of "atheist" and "agnostic"; on the other convention, an atheist denies God's existence [which still has something to do with lacking belief in God] but an agnostic simply doesn't believe in God--perhaps that is what you meant?)
2) I suppose not reading the Bible is like not doing your math homework. If you don't do your math homework, you won't learn the assigned mathematics. If you don't read the Bible, you won't learn what the Bible says. I would want to ask her how it could not matter what the Bible said if she counted herself a Christian.
3) Different religious believers hold different religious beliefs. Some are more benign than others. Some religious believers couldn't imagine getting involved with a nonbeliever (they want to meet their spouses in Heaven, or religion is a really big part of their lives and they want to share it with their partners, or some such); others easily could (their belief really amounts to little more than an optimistic attitude). It really depends on the individuals, I think. But you'd *certainly* want to get the religious difference hashed out early!