Monday, April 23, 2012
Open Letter to the Spiritually Unequal/Unequally Yoked Communities
Dear Christian married to a non-Christian, agnostic, or atheist:
I'm writing this letter to try and explain what's going on with us, that is, with those of us who don't share your passion and devotion for Christianity. I can draw only upon my specific experience and attitudes, but I hope to shed light on what many of us actually think and how we all can move forward together...happily.
The first thing you should know is that, yes, we are hostile to religion, and Christianity in particular. One reason for this is your immersion in Christianity tells us you want more than us and more than our relationship. Your adoption of Christianity and injection of it into every facet of your life seems a clear message that our love is not enough. We don't make you happy, in other words. Our marriage doesn't fulfill you.
And there's an asymmetry here: we love you, just you. We're fine with only you. We don't need to love God or to love Jesus in order to love you. We don't need anything to enhance our love for you. Yet you need help to love us. You need strength to be with us. Now, you can talk about how much better your love for us is because you've found Jesus, but we know that we have become second place. Frankly, we don't get why this should be so. We didn't marry you to be second place in your life.
We're also hostile to Christianity because, honestly, you can be rather oppressive with it. Your declaration of KNOWING (in all caps) that God is real and Jesus died for your sins is made too confidently. The truth is you feel strongly, not that you know.
You believe. You really, really believe. But belief doesn't make facts. Every time you talk about what God really wants and what Jesus's true message is, we think you are acting arrogant and unfair. If God is who you say he is, then you cannot know his desires or will. His desires and will are beyond your ability to fathom. And if Jesus is who you say he is, then his message really could have been made more clearly. Surely, one part of the triune God could have made it so that his very important message was understood by all people in the way he intended. Yet, Christianity is fractured into tens of thousands of denominations, each claiming to have the authoritative reading of Jesus.
So yeah, we're a bit hostile because we feel hurt and we feel attacked.
What's more, you don't seem to treat our view seriously. You pray for us to find God or to have our hearts turned, which is insulting. You don't accept our non-religiousness, yet you demand that we accept your religiousness. You don't grant that skepticism of Christianity is reasonable and legitimate. You are as hostile toward our skepticism, maybe more so, as we are toward your Christianity.
We need you to accept and understand our skepticism as being our idea, as belonging to us. It's not the influence of the evil one. It's not our vanity or a desire to worship ourselves. It's not running away from a truth in our hearts. It's not rebellion, immorality, or parroting atheist blogs. It's what we actually think, and it's what we have learned after a long period of trying to understand these topics. We have read the Bible, and we know what it says. We understand the Bible no less than you do, and to us it appears to be a man-made book.
Please, understand that we are skeptical because we have studied and considered the relevant matters seriously, and we think atheism is probably correct. Please, understand that it's possible to know the Bible as you do and still conclude that Christianity probably isn't true.
If you can understand this, then we can certainly talk about religion without attacking each other. We can do other things, too. You can ask us to come with you to church as your companion. And we hope you will be willing to take some Sundays "off" and do things together with us.
We understand that your religion is important to you. We want to support you, and we want to be part of things that make you happy. We also want you to support us and to be part of things that make us happy. We're sorry that we don't agree with each other about religion. Maybe our lives would be a little happier or a little easier if we both believed exactly the same thing in exactly the same degree. Maybe not.
We love you, and the life we have with you. We want to spend the time making life better and better. Our differing views of religion don't have to be a cancer in our marriage. We already have differences: we like different activities, different foods, different movies, different political candidates, and so on.
Let's not just co-exist with different religious views. Let's flourish. We'll enjoy how happy your religious activities make you, and you can enjoy how happy our skeptical and non-religious activities make us. We can both embrace the fact of our difference.
Yes, we are still growing. Our views are never static and final. Who knows how our minds will change and grow? But let's agree not to try to change each other. Let's agree not even to want that. Let's agree to enjoy the people we are now, the people who are married and building something unique together.
Your non-Christian, agnostic, or atheist spouses