Question from Omar:
I’ve considered myself an atheist all my life. I don’t believe a god exists, I believe there’s a greater force beyond our understanding, a force that has made evolution possible, that has made things fit into place but do not be mistaken I speak of a force, don’t quite know how to put it, let’s say a great coincidence that everything is the way it is, something perinormal like James Randi says. Well it doesn’t matter much since it’s got nothing to do with my question.
I’m from Mexico, I live on the border with the USA. I’ve been with my girlfriend for the past 2 years and she’s christian. I’ve been going to church with her ever since just because she asks me to. While living with her and spending time with her family I’ve seen that they firmly believe that being christian is the way of life that will bring them salvation(salvation from what?).
Before they were christian they were catholic and when the subject of religion arises(which is often) they say how wrong other poeple’s beliefs are and stuff like that, they sound really extremist?. My family is catholic and honestly i’ve never heard them or any other catholic friend speak like that of people(christian specifically) that do not share their beliefs. I do not know how well informed you are of how religion is seen in my country since from what i’ve read christianity seems different from what I have seen here(Mexico)and seen in other places and that 90% of the population in my country is catholic.
Now all these situations(my disbelief and lack of faith and catholic family) cause a lot of problems in our relationship if you could give me some advice on how to manage the situation. i’ve considered converting into christianity just so that the issues are solved but haven’t because i still believe that i can speak sense into her(but haven’t really tried to be honest it scares me)
Catholics are Christians too, you know. It’s still all about Christ. Your girlfriend and her family obviously belong to another denomination, or to a group of evangelicals that considers itself beyond denominations. If they have some special vitriol for Catholicism, it’s probably at least based on Protestantism.
While you’re free to go along with her family’s religion to some extent (and have no God of your own to offend by doing so), there’s nothing you can do about your Catholic family short of converting them all as well. Unless your whole family caves in completely, religion will probably always be a source of conflict between the two families as long as you and your girlfriend are together. It probably won’t help much if you yourself convert outwardly.
That doesn’t mean the relationship is not worth pursuing. Since you and your girlfriend are together despite faith and not because of it, your relationship must be supported by other things you share. It just means that you’ll probably always be caught between two conflicting faiths.
The key in the end will be tolerance. Everyone needs to recognise that belief or non-belief is not a choice as such, and people all have their own ideas about God or other gods. Taking you to church won’t convert you after a set period; something actually has to convince you. Your family sees no reason to switch denominations, any more than her family does. And you mustn’t expect anyone else’s belief to evaporate in a day, without some life-changing experience.
The crucial thing, for me, is that religion is a part of our daily lives only as much as we want it to be. If religion is interfering with your family life, it’s because you two and your families are making it an issue. You’re in love right now, and you’ve got plenty of time to sort this stuff out. When people understand that, you may have less trouble.
Your situation is close to my own experience, but our religious troubles are within both my family and my wife’s, so we’re not caught in the crossfire. I have it much easier, I think.
I hope those you care about can learn to live with each other, Omar. Keep us posted if you like, via comments. If anyone else has advice, speak up.
Question from Omar: