Fair warning to "unequally yoked"

( Via Inversionmaster)

My story is probably not that interesting (until the more recent stuff) since I was never a believer. I vaguely recall kindergarten Sunday school and having doubts about the creation story. My family attended church off and on, due to my mother's prodding. Mom might be considered Christian-lite and my dad is probably a weak agnostic. As a boy, I recall going to weekend cub scout event but if you didn't attend the really wishy-washy church service you had to help in the kitchen (it was more fun anyway!). I left out "under god" during the Pledge in school (nobody noticed). A few years later, my mom made me attend confirmation classes but I thought it was a bunch of nonsense. Shortly after that we switched to a more modern Episcopal church where the minister would occasional swear and I even joined the choir (good snacks!). Too busy or not interested in church during high school. As a college student I never attended church but had a couple of strange experiences with the "faithful". There was the student down the hall who sent 10% of his financial aid to the church and I remember thinking that was just wrong. There was a fundie classmate who was into the whole young earth creationist thing. This kind of blew me away since we were both in the cell and molecular biology program at a large research university. He refused to answer questions dealing with evolution and even showed me his exams with the zeros. I respected his determination but not the arguments. Up until this point I would probably consider myself a weak agnostic, other than a few run-ins with these characters, religion just had little impact on my life.

In graduate school I met a woman who was catholic. She was not that hard-core, though there were a couple of things she was strict about like not missing church and Lent. I cheerfully followed along, perhaps feeling like I did something "good" by attending church. After a couple of years dating, we married and had two beautiful, intelligent kids. Slowly the Catholicism was replaced by fundamentalist protestant Christianity. It started with a Bible study class which lead to Sunday *night* services and sometimes Wednesday prayer meetings, AWANA, Vacation Bible Study and other stuff. Our library is filled with books by CS Lewis, James Dobson, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell and related ilk. I attend Sunday morning service but have made it clear that it is only to "keep the peace". All of our friends are church members, so it is hard to develop more than superficial friendships. I can only protest in silly little ways; by *not* singing at church, *not* bowing my head during prayer in church, small contributions to the collection plate (to pay for the air) despite several pleas that god will bless us if we cough up 10%. I've told my wife she is free to get a job to pay her 10% but she is so tied up with bible studies that won't happen. In an odd way this has made me much more liberal on many issues. We don't attend any charismatic churches and I have told her that there will be serious problems if she moves in that direction.

So we have this impasse. I don't know if religion has helped my wife become a fantastic mother but on other hand I know it has mediocre wife. To be fair, she probably feels the same way about me. We both know that if things were done all over again under the current conditions we never would have had a second date, so yeah, valentine's and anniversaries are a bit awkward.

As my children are approaching the end of their high school years they will be under less influence from their mother. There are several looming issues pertaining to college. Their mother has really played up very conservative colleges. I fear attending one of these schools will lock them into a network of like-minded peers, alienating me even further. At this point, the kids have what they think of as a strong faith, is it my job to tear that down? This is a very difficult position, whether a secular or christian university, one parent is going to be disappointed. So in some ways I hope my story is a bit of warning to those consider being "unequally yoked". From what I've observed, people tend to get more conservative in their religious views as time goes on, especially when children are involved.

1 comment:

Sarah Trachtenberg said...

People like your college fried (the young earth guy) really puzzle me. When bad things happen to good brains...

Not My God, www.sarahtrachtenberg.com