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Unequally Yoked? Anyone?


Guest wayfarer2k
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Guest wayfarer2k

Let me start this topic by saying that I love my wife dearly. And she loves me. We have been married for a little over 19 years and have two children together, 12 and 9. She is a blessing to my life in more ways than I can count and if ever there was anyone who has been "Jesus with skin on" in my life, it would be my wife.

 

But she is a conservative Christians (Southern Baptist) and I have moved liberal or progressive in my beliefs. This makes for some interesting discussions between us...but it also makes for some contention. She wants the children "raised in church" which, to me, means indoctrinated into traditional Christianity with all of it's guilt and control. I would like our children exposed to more than one way to see Christianity as well as, hopefully someday, more than one religion. But my wife's parents are strict Baptists and are putting pressure on her to make sure that our kids are raised with a conservative, fundamental faith.

 

Are any of you in a similar situation? Are any of you in marriages where you don't see eye-to-eye spiritually speaking and, if so, how do you work it out? How do you handle raising your children when there are almost two different faiths in your household?

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Wayfarer, When I met my wife in Korea, she was a very conservative Christian. When we would go for a hike in the mountains she would refuse to enter a Buddhist temple's grounds. I on the other hand, meditate and do yoga twice a day. I love my wife as you do. I respect her and have never questioned her faith or religious practice. She has never questioned mine and respects the time I spend in meditation. I am also vegetarian and have been for 40 years. She tried it for two years and stopped. Again we respect each others life style. I have two sons who I feel benefit not only on our cultural difference, but on our different spiritual journeys. I write and share my ideas in print, but I am very quiet in person. I feel living as a Christian is more important than talking about it. My two sons are 24 and 23. I watched, cared and witnessed their spiritual journeys. My wife applies what she believes is right in a very strong armed manner. I on the other hand talk to my sons when the time is right. It might be in the car, after a movie or when going through a crises. The situation always presents itself. I try not to talk above or down to them but straight to the experience or philosophy that is at hand.

 

Many people today view fundamental and progressive religion as two radically different ways to understand the world, but religion and spirituality strengthen each others belief because they are both concerned with what is true. They were not meant to live alone in isolation, divorced from each other. There are no barricades that divide us because faith and spirituality are meant to live happily together. Spirituality does not destroy faith. but fulfills it so we can use our intelligence as a path to spiritual awareness and when our intellect can say no more.

 

Wayfarer your instinctive spiritual view of life will take over. I respect your ideas and concepts. Your spirituality will provide you with a kind of intuitive perception of God as He is reflected in creation. Trust it as it guides you and your family. I never contradicted my wife's perceptions on God with her or our children. I just witnessed God's work through her and the kids even though I would have handled things and did in a different way.

 

I firmly believe that if I live a Christian life, I don't have to preach about it. Being in the witness is the hard part. Preaching only confuses, irritates and causes problems. I think the purpose of preaching is to make the faith of the person preaching stronger, partly because people who preach don't listen very well. You are blessed, keep up the good work.

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Guest wayfarer2k

There are many wise words there, Soma. Thanks for sharing them and for the encouragement.

 

My wife is a truly wonderful person and has given me the freedom to explore my own spiritual journey as it unfolds before me. At the same time, she is deeply committed to the paradigm that I used to hold to (which I do respect) and I have no problem with that. It works for her. I didn't for me. During my forties, my faith came crashing down when I realized that God was no super-parent in the sky who would protect me from life's harsh realities. On the other hand, my wife says that it was solely her faith that got her through. I admire her for that.

 

But what I wonder about, and I admit this may be needless fear, is that my own children will waste 40 years of their own lives under the guilt and control system of modern Christianity. I don't want that for them. At the same time, if I can come out the other side with an intact faith in God (albeit a different kind), they can too.

 

I certainly agree with you that our faith is caught rather than taught. My wife is gracious in that she listens to my questions. The things I question certainly don't bother her (slavery, genocide, atonement, virgin birth, etc.) and I'm trying to learn that that is okay. As far as the children go, I think you are probably right to just live out what I believe. That, more than anything else, will hopefully let them see that both their mom and I believe in the same God, just in different ways.

 

BTW, I am much more "forward" here on the forum than I am at home or in church about my progressive views. I can be that way here because this is a forum for progressive Christians. Most of the time at home or in church, I just smile politely at things and keep my big mouth shut. :lol:

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Hi Wayfarer,

 

I agree with Soma that the most important thing you can do for your children is to witness God's work, even though, as Soma says, "Being in the witness is the hard part." If you follow your heart, model consistency and patience, and, most importantly, believe in their inherent worth (which you already do) then they will find the inner strength they need to sort the wheat from the chaff, just as you have.

 

Jen

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Her parents, as conservative Christians, should recognize you as the head of the house and therefore responsible for the decisions made about your children. They are being hypocritical to the Nth degree by trying upsurp your authority (according to their own beliefs). You may wish to remind them *all* of that!

 

If you want your children exposed to more liberal beliefs, by their system, you have every right. In fact it is your duty!

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Her parents, as conservative Christians, should recognize you as the head of the house and therefore responsible for the decisions made about your children. They are being hypocritical to the Nth degree by trying upsurp your authority (according to their own beliefs). You may wish to remind them *all* of that!

 

If you want your children exposed to more liberal beliefs, by their system, you have every right. In fact it is your duty!

 

OA, this is too funny! I'm still chortling and guffawing as I imagine this scene play out as you've so wittily devised. :D

 

Jen

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Guest wayfarer2k
OA, this is too funny! I'm still chortling and guffawing as I imagine this scene play out as you've so wittily devised. :D

 

Jen

 

Yep, they would say, "No, only the GODLY man is the head of the household. If he is not going to raise the children to be GODLY [interpret "conservative, fundamentalist"] then he has abdicated his role and it is the wife's place to step up and raise the children rightly."

 

In fact, just last week they told my son, who loves Transformers, that he should think about Jesus more than he thinks about Transformers. Yeah, right. What is he going to do, sit on the floor and repeat, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." ad infinitum?

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Yep, they would say, "No, only the GODLY man is the head of the household. If he is not going to raise the children to be GODLY [interpret "conservative, fundamentalist"] then he has abdicated his role and it is the wife's place to step up and raise the children rightly."

 

In fact, just last week they told my son, who loves Transformers, that he should think about Jesus more than he thinks about Transformers. Yeah, right. What is he going to do, sit on the floor and repeat, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." ad infinitum?

 

I had a good chuckle for a while there until you reminded me that there is no getting around the severe logic of a conservative Christian. They seem to have a legalistic answer for everything.

 

My son who is still living used to love Transformers. (He's 24 now, but he was about 5 when he fell in love with Transformers). I let him watch the cartoon that ran on TV. I watched it myself, and the stories were old-fashioned stories about bravery and heroism. So I didn't have a problem with it. (On the other hand, he was not allowed to watch shows like Married With Children where people were cruel and vicious to each other.) Meanwhile, I gave him a running commentary on my own time about the danger of guns. I made sure he understood that in real life guns were a bad thing, something I didn't approve of. He managed to hang onto the stories about being a strong man who helps others while not buying into a culture of violence and abuse.

 

Plus, the Transformer toys that were available 20 years ago were amazing pieces of design. They twisted this way and that in ingenious ways that piqued my interest in basic mechanical stuff. I don't know if today's Transformer toys are like that. But the older ones sure were cool.

 

Our son learned about Jesus, too, just in case you're wondering.

 

Jen

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Yep, they would say, "No, only the GODLY man is the head of the household. If he is not going to raise the children to be GODLY [interpret "conservative, fundamentalist"] then he has abdicated his role and it is the wife's place to step up and raise the children rightly."

 

 

They might want to check with the Promise Keepers on that one. The pre-marriage counseling I was involved with said that it didn't matter. That the husband was ultimately responsible for the children and his wife for better or worse. She still was not to upsurp his authority "No matter what!"

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  • 4 weeks later...
Let me start this topic by saying that I love my wife dearly. And she loves me. We have been married for a little over 19 years and have two children together, 12 and 9. She is a blessing to my life in more ways than I can count and if ever there was anyone who has been "Jesus with skin on" in my life, it would be my wife.

 

But she is a conservative Christians (Southern Baptist) and I have moved liberal or progressive in my beliefs. This makes for some interesting discussions between us...but it also makes for some contention. She wants the children "raised in church" which, to me, means indoctrinated into traditional Christianity with all of it's guilt and control. I would like our children exposed to more than one way to see Christianity as well as, hopefully someday, more than one religion. But my wife's parents are strict Baptists and are putting pressure on her to make sure that our kids are raised with a conservative, fundamental faith.

 

Are any of you in a similar situation? Are any of you in marriages where you don't see eye-to-eye spiritually speaking and, if so, how do you work it out? How do you handle raising your children when there are almost two different faiths in your household?

 

Wayfarer:

 

This is a timely topic for me. I have so much to say, so please forgive my long post. Here we go...

 

Like you, I have a completely different view of Christianity than my wife. She is my second wife and she is a proud evangelical Christian who doesn't understand why I don't want to accompany her and her children (I am the step-father of her 7 children) to the Assembly of God church on Sundays. My wife is from a large family (she is 1 of 15 children) and the majority of her family is either Assembly of God are some other evangelical group. The matriach of the family, my mother-in-law, thinks that 'I am lost' and she makes it her goal to remind me of this on a regular basis.

 

Oh, by the way, I am also a very active Freemason, which according to my mother-in-law and numerous in-laws, is a Satanic cult and I am esssentially doomed to burn in the fires of hell forever if I continue my evil ways.

 

So, with all of that said, I will just say in the words of Bill Clinton "I feel your pain"...

 

I have a limited group of close friends who I can confide in. This, unfortunately, does not include my wife. I have tried to discuss my beliefs with her. It did not lead to a productive discussion. To this day, I regret ever having told her some of my thoughts. However, we both agree to disagree.

 

I love my wife. Period. She has helped me to become a better person. I was mentally abused by my first wife over a 17 year marriage. My current wife has had to deal with many issues that I have brought into our relationship. However, she has shown me a better marriage over our last 4 years together than I ever had in my previous marriage. Although we do not agree on our Christian points of view, she exemplifies the true meaning of love by her actions towards me, towards our children, and towards others. Although she will not admit it, I think she is far more progressive in her ideals than she is willing to say. It is through our actions that we promote our true beliefs.

 

Like you, I cringe at the thought of our children sitting through the guilt trip on Sunday morning. But remember, many of us on this forum have been brought up that way and we haven't turned out too bad. I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran (hard to get much more fundamental than that). I only started questioning my true Christianity after I had went through a very difficult time with my first wife.

 

Personally, I don't think the teachings of the evangelical/fundamentalist church are that influential on our children's demeanor. I have seen them be far more open-minded and far more accepting to their peers than they ever were taught to be in their Sunday school lessons. For example, 2 years ago our teenage daughter's best friend announced she is a lesbian. This girl is very close to our family and is like another daughter to my wife and I. Our teenage daughter defended her friend's decision to not only the harsh criticism of her high school peers but also to the 'inquisition' of my mother-in-law. I was so proud of my daughter...and absolutely amazed by her actions.

 

It is actions that teach, not our words. That was a tough time for our family. But the example that our teenage daughter made spoke volumes to her younger siblings. They may hear how homosexuality is wrong in Sunday school, but they saw the real meaning of love and acceptance in their home.

 

Every day, Wayfarer, I am faced with difficult issues as being the step father of this large family. My wife and children have went through hell...literally. Her first husband, who is the father of 4 of our kids, was an alcoholic. He has distanced himself from his children and makes no effort to communicate with them. My wife's second husband, who brought 2 children into the relationship and fathered 2 more with her, was a child molester and is currently in prison. I will not try to convey the harm that these two men have brought into my wife and children lives. Nonetheless, I think our kids are turning out just fine.

 

I try to live by a saying that is a paraphase of what Saint Francis of Assisi once said:

 

No amount of darkness can extinguish the light from a single flame

 

If your actions burn like that single flame, you will ignite the candle within those around you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alan

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Alan, nice post. You are a great Christian shown by your love and sacrifice. Because of your great love I am sure you don't see it as sacrifice.

 

When a person loves something he sets it free, this is love. Love is beyond the mind, beyond mere words, and is expressed in silent sacrifice. Jesus loved us and died for us to show us the way. His liberation from the earth glorified God and showed us the way. He loved, sacrificed and died for everyone demonstrating his love for God, everything and the unity of all. Thank you.

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Guest wayfarer2k

Alan, thanks for sharing where you are in considering this issue. I can really relate to what you said about actions speaking louder than words.

 

Thankfully, we attend a somewhat evangelical UMC that doesn't stress the "turn or burn" message much. Almost every church I attended while growing up had this "fear tactic" at the center of it's methodology so, yes, it did some damage to my own journey. I tended to always see God as a judge and book-keeper, an image that is not easily dispelled. But my children don't attend such conservative churchs and my wife agrees that we won't do that. The message where we are is much more centered in developing a love relationship with God. So I'm not too worried about these people twisting their little minds. :)

 

At the same time, my wife often surprises me with things she says. Sometimes I swear she is more a liberal than I am! She'll just say something that goes against her own Baptist upbringing and then say, "Well, that's what I think." Good for her. When it comes right down to it, her ties to her Baptist past are not theological, but familial. She has friends and family there.

 

So all in all, I guess I am pretty lucky to have a wife who is so understanding and who listens. Yes, I would love to get her to read a book by Jack Spong or Marcus Borg, but that won't happen until/if she has a need for it. I wouldn't have read anything by these two authors 10 years ago either. But the issue is not that *I* have seen the light and *she* has not. Her kind of faith works for her. That kind doesn't work for me. And she knows it. I guess what makes it work is that, somehow, through it all, we still trust each other and we trust that God's hands are bigger than our human understandings.

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Alan, thank you for sharing your story. You have a tremendous family, albeit challenging. Kudos to your daughter. She is more "typical" of her generation who tends to be non-judgmental toward the GLBT community. My parents are similar to your wife. They profess to be conservative but in many ways are very progressive. When my mom's friends' daughters were getting pregnant before marriage my mom was assuring them that what their daughters needed most was their support, not judgment. When my oldest conservative sister and youngest liberal sister were arguing over gay marriage my dad intervened and stated: You should be able to marry whomever you want! I wish I had witnessed it for myself. There are other similiar stories. After the initial shock wore off my parents were my biggest support when I went through a divorce, for example. I am unequally yoked with my family of origin but we live across the country from each other so it mostly works out!

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