The Elephant in the Room: Sleeping with a Theist

I am not trying to put down a set of rules for dating a theist, or telling you this will work for you, what I am doing is putting down my opinions and beliefs after a long time of thinking about the question, “Can I as an atheist have a long-term relationship with a theist?” This is something that I have pondered for quite some time and currently am living it.
So I figure we’ll start with the beginning of a relationship and work from there. First you meet the person and you find out they believe in a faith. I am upfront and state that I believe in no religion, but accept their choice to have a faith. I’m not so arrogant to believe that I am right 100% of the time and all should follow my directive. So, this may or may not be the deal breaker. Fortunately for me it was not, but it was stated that she did not want to talk about it, thus creating the elephant in the room.
Now the key to this relationship working is that neither party tries to convert the other to their way of thinking. You must just accept it. I see it as this, if she were to become curious or start to question her faith and want to know about my views then I would be supportive and informative about what led me to my current belief, which hopefully she would see the same way if I were to become curious about her faith or interested in coming back to Christianity. Trying to force Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” down here throat is not the answer and will only lead to resentment.
So now we move from initial dating to meeting the parents. This is a touchy subject depending on how religious the family is. The girl I am currently seeing does come from a very religious family and so I would talk to her about it and find out if she would like me to claim my former faith or be honest. Then I would say that, “I was raised Lutheran.”
Honestly, if it helps smooth things over, I will play along. This also leads to possibly attending certain church functions for appearance sake, and I can tolerate that. I have no problem attending a church service as a social event, I’m not that militant. I would prefer to be open about my atheism but a relationship is compromise, so this is one of my compromises. I also looked up her church to make sure it was not some crazy fundamentalist church.
So let’s say we get serious enough for marriage, this leaves the wedding ceremony, and honestly I am open to a Christian service. A friend asked me once to do an atheist service for his wedding and I was struggling to come up with something. I was pretty much talking about him and his wife’s relationship and quoting some poetry, this all was nixed when his wife decided to go with the minister that married her parents.
Now we come to the issue of raising children and I would not be opposed to my child be baptized and going to church. I would attend major events like the baptism and first communion, and such, but I would not attend church regularly. I would explain my views to the child but ultimately it would be up the child to make a choice. I came of my conclusions on my own and would give my child the same freedom to do so on the topic of religion. Even if I my partner was not a theist and my child’s friend invited him/her to a church function I would not bar it. I would allow him to go to church if he/she so chose to. In the end, it really comes down to the person making their own choices, and I hope to only raise a rational free thinking child.
So I guess that sums up the initial gist of my views. I don’t expect everyone to agree with them, and I encourage people to comment on what they agree or disagree with. I welcome open rational dialogue (which I expect from this group, unlike some of our theist counterparts). Honestly, the key is finding someone who is rational enough to except your differences and is willing to compromise like you are.

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Comment by Andrew the Fluffer on February 8, 2009 at 10:46pm
I don't think that I could date a theist, just on the off chance that our relationship escalates to a permanent one. I don't want to have to argue about raising the children with religion or not. I think it would certainly be possible for an atheist and a theist to get along just fine, but I dislike religion enough that I personally just couldn't do it.
Comment by Andrew the Fluffer on February 8, 2009 at 10:48pm
My girlfriend, who is an atheist like me, has parents that are very religious. We go to great lengths to hide it from them. My parents are religious too, but they have accepted our atheism and don't put us down for it.

When it comes time for marriage, are we going to have to do it in a church to appease our parents? What will they say when we have children and don't "give them the gift of religion?"

There may be some hurt feelings in the future. We'll see.
Comment by Frank on February 8, 2009 at 10:50pm
My mother doesn't know, but she isn't pushy about religion...I see her on average about once a year and that is Christmas and I do go to Christmas Eve service with her.
Comment by River Otter on February 9, 2009 at 10:12am
I date a Christian man who comes from a very Christian family. I was staight up with him about being Atheist from the start.

I don't bring up religion unless he starts it, and he does from time to time. When this happens, I slam him. I can back him into his religious corner without escape. Heeheehee. It is almost so easy it's no fun. In doing this, I can get him to think outside the box and so far he has been a GREAT sport!

Having said this, he is a wonderful person and I adore him.

I don't attend church with him unless it is a special celebration. Marriages, funerals, ect. I would be to tempted to raise my hand and point out that there are women in the church who are speaking and not wearing the proper head etire. It is best if I stay out of church as much as possible. My man understands this.

I am not sure how many of his relatives know that I am an Atheist. I know a couple do, but they don't say anything to me about it. I kinda wish they would. I would love to enlighten them.

One thing I make sure NOT to do is pray with them. When they pray, I just sit there patiently waiting for them to finish thanking their imaginary god and saviour. I wish they would let me lead the prayer. I would thank the things that actually made what we were praying about happen.

Children are not an issue with us. We are older and have children from past relationships. I am not sure if this would work if we wanted children. I wouldn't care if he brought our children to church but I am not sure if he would want me to talk about the bullshit side of religion to them. Oh well, I don't have to worry about this.

I have never been married and he has once. As a matter of fact, he blames the church for cohersing him into it & he is bitter about his first marriage, (the woman really screwed him over). I have never married because I will only do it once and haven't found anyone I feel would be compatible enough. We have been dating for a year and have been talking about getting married (maybe) in another year.
We have discussed what type of ceremony we would have if we were to get married. I told him right up front that I will NOT make any vows to any god and I don't want to get married in a church. Any vows that I make will be made to him and him only and I think that the Dan River will be a wonderful place to do that. I have enough intergity to make a marriage work and know how a family works as a team. God doesn't know shit. I don't think he quite understood what that meant. I will go over this with him again in the near future. .

We are considering living together first in order to get to know each other on a daily basis. This might be a good idea. I don't want to make a commitment without knowing for sure if I would be happy, and this goes for him too. I do need to bring up the subject of our differences in beliefs again before doing this. I will bring it up again today. He needs to be absolutely sure he is alright about my Atheism and my activism. I really don't care if he is a Christian and couldn't care less if he went to church.

I am interested in hearing any experiances with Atheists dating Christians. Especially older people's experiances. This feedback is important to me. I will keep you updated if there is anything I feel I need to share with you all on this subject.


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