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.