Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dating Someone With Different Beliefs

Dear Mom:

I am a (non-practicing) LDS student dating an atheist. If I end up staying with him, will I end up hating him and myself?

Sincerely,

Stuck


Dear Stuck:

That you have this question in the first place gives me reason to believe you have some pretty heavy concerns about this relationship. If you had little or no concern, it would not have occurred to you that you might later hate him as well as yourself, bringing me to this question:

Do you believe in God?

I know this is a bold question, but it is the basis, whether you realize it or not, of your initial question. If you were an atheist as he is, there would be no concern. But because you have been taught Christian values through the LDS faith, this leads me to believe that some of these values still hold true for you-if not, again, you probably would not have asked this question.

As a Christian myself, I believe in God and that means I believe God is the driving force of things-nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust. He is the basis of my faith. Atheists, as I understand it, believe in nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust as they see it, and as they choose to live it. Some atheists believe in spiritualism within the constructs of their being; most don't believe in God at all.

While I am a firm believer in people choosing for themselves, I am also a firm believer in people being true to themselves; the cost is too high otherwise.

If you stay with him, you may later, when the romance has softened to a fine glow and you begin to relax a bit (because this always happens) find that the feelings within your heart are battling with the feelings of his heart. This doesn't mean you don't love him; even that you can't love him, but that this difference is driving a wedge between you. Being in a relationship is hard enough without having this additional splinter under the skin.

I have known people who have married outside of their faith. I know you are only dating, but "dating," as my mom always used to tell me, "leads to marriage." And you will "always marry someone you date." This is a fact that can't be disputed nor ignored.

Most of those who marry outside their faith are miserable. Sure, some of them still manage to hang on to the love they have for their spouse, but most (dare I say it?) run into major difficulties. The only thing that saves them is living a separate life (divorce), doing things of a spiritual nature, like attending church for example (alone) or choosing to follow in the footsteps of the other; letting go of what they believe.

Be true to yourself. If you can't talk about God now because you feel he will be offended; if you shy away from certain topics or find that you are listening to his feelings and feeling sick inside as you do so; if you are uncomfortable in any way, listen to those feelings. Be true to what you feel. If you're not true to yourself, you will end up hating him as well as yourself.

Love,

Mom
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