I am a father in a preachy-religious family.  Only my middle child, a daughter, knows that I am an Atheist.  She completely accepts me and has admitted to being a skeptic, but still a Christian.

I want to be an honest person with my wife and oldest daughter, but one upon a time I left Christianity to become a Jehovah's Witness.  The fight my wife and I had lasted for several weeks and left me so wounded that I don't want to repeat it again.  It was a horrible experience.

I feel badly that I have to fool her, but I also feel that a peaceful household is a good thing, even if I have to lie to get it.

I also fear that she may leave me if I admit the truth.

I am running a blog page that I hope she finds that explains why I am Atheist and dissolves some Christian mysteries using logic.

Any advice? 

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"I want to be an honest person with my wife and oldest daughter..."

Honesty is the closes thing you will get to the truth.

As an Atheist, why is lying so bad? Upon which precepts do you base your morality on? Yours?

If truth is relative, then it should make no difference what your wife believes. As, it does seem to be the case.

I want to share the reality of life with my wife. I want to share the truth with her.  I am living alone in this matter and praying at dinner or going to church (especially donating to a church who doesn't really care) seems like a waste of money and time to me.  I want to do good for the world, but churches are not the answer.

I feel very dishonest pretending to pray and pretending to care what she says about religion, when I know it is false and wasteful.


The question really is: Do I continue to fake it and never share the relief and joy with my wife, or risk everything and tell her? 

I am not, nor have ever been, married.  I have also never had to "come out" as an atheist since my family is mostly secular, so I can't really give you direct advice...

...but to me it sounds like you know what you need to do.  Like your topic says: the question is "How?" not "Should I?".

A lack of empathy is a troublesome burden when lecturing other people about a perceived lack in morality mr. Whitehurst. Seems to me the opportunity you saw to insert a remark about the relativeness of truth, moral truths I presume from the context, is not only wrong, but more importantly it is utterly distasteful.

It is wrong because Atheism is not irreconcilable with moral realism, in fact I would say most Atheists are moral realists. Even when there is much opposition to Sam Harris' idea of discovering what they are using science. But you have bought into the false notion, maintained as a theme in lesser apologetics, that moral truths existing in a metaphysical sense can be equated 1:1 by them existing as a limited set of immutable prescriptions or rules, revealed, fully sufficient and applicable for all eternity.

Yet no one, not even the maddest of the mad fundamentalist thinks all those revealed rules should be carried out. Or perhaps only on other people. Some rules are simply too repugnant to contemplate. Some of the better rules like: thou shalt not kill, repeated a few times throughout the whole Bible has never been exactly prioritized by the religious ever. And it still isn't. In the US Christians consistently come forward as being the most warlike and the most pro-torture group of all embarrassingly enough. So in practice moral truths are pretty relative to them it seems.

But it is utterly distasteful because this is about a personal dilemma, an interpersonal matter. It is a request for advice, preferably by people having gone through something like this, some feed-back. I would be surprised if such a request was meant as an invitation to receive a dose of apologetic sophistry not even having to do with anything.

Lying is bad ethically.  Ethics are not created by some god or the bible, so they are still relevant among atheists.  What does it matter which "precepts" he bases his morality on?  That matters not.  It didn't matter which precepts the authors of the Bible wrote theirs on seemingly.  But good ethics are not founded by spiritual-religion/theism.

Agreed.  I'm not afraid of some sort of huge surveillance camera in the sky watching me lie to my wife only to punish me with eternal torment and fire.  Honesty is something I desire among everyone I hold dear.  Honesty builds trust, and I think that's going to be the worst thing about finally "coming out" is that my wife will not trust me.


I think I'd rather her find out by my telling her rather than by accidentally leaving my laptop open to my blog and her finding out that way. 

Casually. Don't be forward by sitting everyone down and saying "I have something to tell you." Wait for it to come up organically, and then talk about it as if you were talking about your attitude toward spicy food. The key here is to emphasize that it's a personal viewpoint, which is to say it's irrelevant to the feelings you have about your significant others. Smoothly downplay it; show honesty honesty, but show them peace. Then show them love. What else is there?

Great answer :)

My friend just went through a horrible break-up.  Her boyfriend of 10 years (I'm sure they had a common-law marriage) lived a farce for the last 4 of those years.  Did he cheat on her?  No.  But he lied, and his lie escalated as the years went on.  He even went so far as to photoshop documents.  It took four years, but the truth came out.  He thought he was doing it to keep the peace, because he loved her, because it didn't matter, because they needed to stay together, but it in the end it hurt more than anything.  Finding out that you've been hiding it and blogging about it might feel like betrayal.

Perhaps instead of just saying you're atheist, think of what that means in terms of your family.  Do you want to do anything differently?  Do you want to change the way in which you participate in family events or in the way that you support your wife?  These are the unknowns that may scare her and the questions that should arise when you tell her - being prepared with some answers may help to facilitate the conversation (once the shock wears off).  If she asks something you can't answer or just flies off the handle, then be prepared to take a break (set a time - 5 minutes or so) and return to it soon.  Good luck!

You can try to gradually showing her through actions rather than words (such as secular volunteer work) so that she can understand your side first hand without a direct confrontation. You could also tell her about your blog and have her read it by herself and hope that she will be understanding enough to see the toll that this deception is taking on you. I don't really know what type of person that your wife is or how exactly how irrational she might get to such news. You could also try and start with your older daughter and try to gauge her reaction and then she might be able to help you with telling your wife as well. I wish you good fortune in which ever path you decide to take.


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