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StrodeTheBull
09 Feb 2012, 06:09
I'm new here, my name is StrodeTheBull. Hi.

I've considered myself Pagan or Heathen for maybe five years now, but I've always been this way in my heart and soul. My beliefs are simple and I follow no path; I merely revere my ancestors, the natural world, and sometimes the Gods of my pre-Christian people.

I don't meet many women purely because not many really strike me enough to make me interested. However, earlier this year one hit me hard. I asked her out, and she said yes. We have more-or-less been dating half a year. One problem: She's very, very Christian and doesn't know I'm not. In fact, her father is a preacher at a Baptist church.

This has never seemed like a problem to me, because my beliefs I keep private. I'm only "pagan" when I'm alone in the woods. Here's where the problem comes in, she wants me to join her church. I've already been going to her church with her for about half a year, but it isn't enough. She refuses to take me seriously unless I'm with her %100. (that's what I gather anyway..)

My not telling her doesn't feel like a lie to me, because I respect her and her faith enough to genuinely be there for her. I'm not lying when I say I like her church and the people there, I just don't follow Christ. My beliefs are my own business, and if I respect her beliefs and will never get in the way of them, why should she have to know? I'll certainly never tell her.

It hurts because I care for her. But it also hurts because I'm losing myself in her world.

I need advice from fellow Pagans. Continue to keep my beliefs inside, like I do already? Or open myself up and lose her utterly?

perzephone
09 Feb 2012, 08:15
If you want your relationship to last, you need to communicate. Let her know who you are religiously - and yes, it may end badly. You might end up sticking together, but end up getting preached at by her and her family. You may end up breaking up. She may end up denouncing you as a devil-worshiping baby-killer.

If you try to hide who you are, or shove it down, eventual you'll come to resent her, her family, her church and yourself.

Or, who knows - if you tell her about your faith, she might be open-minded enough to be curious about it :D

thalassa
09 Feb 2012, 08:34
Well...

First off, welcome to PF.

This is a tricky dilemma that only you can really answer, and it seems like you know issues as well any of us could tell you.

The problem is that some Christians take very seriously the idea of being "unevenly/unequally yoked" (http://bible.cc/2_corinthians/6-14.htm)...I participate on a mom website in the religion fourm area, and this sort of thing comes up for discussion fairly often. Depending on one's denomination and individual, that might mean the person has to be of the same denomination/church, or just also Christian, or it might not matter at all. Unfortunately is sounds like she is of the first group...but have you tried having this conversation? Do you know what her feelings are besides her wanting you to join her church? Does she assume you are Christian already, or does she not know at all? Also...if you want children, are you willing to have them brought up in her church?

It seems to me that the two of you need to have a serious talk...not necessarily that you have to tell her what's going on completely, but at least that you need to at least tell her that while you respect her religious beliefs and will support her in them, you don't agree with them enough that you feel it would be honest to join her church...and that that has nothing to do with your feelings for her...and maybe even that you are hurt by the idea that she would put conditions on your relationship that would require you to go against your beliefs (that might be a bit much and/or put her on the defensive though). The other thing to think about is that some Christians have a very specific idea of marriage, often called a Biblical Marriage or Christian Marriage, and you can't have one of those if one partner isn't Christian. Another thing that you need to consider is less if you see it as a lie, as if SHE would see it as a lie if she found out...

I know people that have a successful relationship with different religious beliefs, and I know people that put on the show of belief and do their own thing on their own time, quitely, because it wouldn't work...........I am very lucky in having a spouse that is of the same religious genre as my own, even if we differ on the details. Prior to that, I dated a (uber) Christian, having told him I wasn't (and that I was Pagan) from the get-go...and the "religion thing" was always an issue for him, because he didn't know how to *not* try to convert me. Perhaps if he hadn't known (and our relationship hadn't had other problems) it might have been different, and I could have used the "gradual revelation" technique on him that I used on my parents (which took about 5 years), but perhaps not...

B. de Corbin
09 Feb 2012, 09:56
Great advice ^ .

I'll give you the short form.

If you try to pass, one of two things will almost certainly happen -

A. You will get caught out, or you will create suspicion. Both of these are worse than being up front about it.
B. you will slide by, but, inside, you'll feel creepy (unless you actually are creepy, in which case you'd enjoy the deception) because you will always wonder if you are loved for what you are, or for what you are pretending to be.

If you decide to be up front, one of three things is likely to happen:

A. She will dump you like a fistful of worms.
B. She will be more open than you think (she might even find you exotically attractive...)
C. She'll want to know all about the things that make you what you are - like your real spiritual beliefs - and love will blossom.

IMHO, all of these options - even "A" - are better than what you might get by trying to pass.

If you were just looking for a short term fling, I'd say "She doesn't need to know every thing about you that there is to know - so don't tell."

But it looks like you are looking for something else, so I say "She doesn't need to know everything about you, but you shouldn't feel like you have to hide the important things from her."

If you want to test the water, try asking her if she'd love you if you were ____________ (Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or any of the other larger non-Christian religions). If she says no, it isn't really you she likes, but some you that she is imagining that you are...

WhiskeyJack
09 Feb 2012, 17:43
Well, there's another thing that could happen if you are upfront about it to her. it's a little more than just "ok with it, not ok with it".

That is she'll be disappointed, but willing to try to make it work. This generally is kinda like a dragged-out drama-hell. The kind where she likes you, but there's always that one thing she doesn't like. Not to mention she might say she's ok with it, but then slowly try to convert you. There's a million different ways this can go, and 90% of the ways aren't fun. My advice is, if you want to keep her like no matter what, then keep it to yourself and play along with her. But, honestly, if you don't really care that much, just tell her. There's a slim chance that she'll be cool with it and you guys will get along great, but if that does happen, that'd be awesome.

Ramses II
10 Feb 2012, 16:40
I can give you some advice but you probably won't take it. You can simply lie to her, say you like this Jesus character and be done with it; she'll be happy and you'll be done with that annoying, nagging martyr nonsense. I've done this plenty of times.

"Oh sure baby, I'm love going to church with you, it really uplifts me both in a emotional and spiritual way, I feel light and free."

It's really not that hard provided this isn't a serious, long-term type of arrangement. The fact of the matter is though, if you're like me then you're always going to be Pagan; you were born Pagan, you lived as a Pagan and chances are, you'll die as a Pagan, it's as simple as that and if you can accept her and her weird martyr cult tomfoolery then she should be able to accept you and your beliefs. It's like I tell all my women when this comes up, "I may have stirrings of stirrings of possible feelings for you but I am what I am and that's all that I am, take it or leave it." I don't care who it is, there is no woman, man, other, etc. alive that is the bees knees to the point where you should disregard and change you are (fundamentally speaking). Further, all successful relationships are predicated on simple, little (white) lies.

I say, say what you can, haggle it out but don't change who you are. Praise the Gods.

WhiskeyJack
10 Feb 2012, 16:46
I can give you some advice but you probably won't take it. You can simply lie to her, say you like this Jesus character and be done with it; she'll be happy and you'll be done with that annoying, nagging martyr nonsense. I've done this plenty of times.

"Oh sure baby, I'm love going to church with you, it really uplifts me both in a emotional and spiritual way, I feel light and free."

It's really not that hard provided this isn't a serious, long-term type of arrangement. The fact of the matter is though, if you're like me then you're always going to be Pagan; you were born Pagan, you lived as a Pagan and chances are, you'll die as a Pagan, it's as simple as that and if you can accept her and her weird martyr cult tomfoolery then she should be able to accept you and your beliefs. It's like I tell all my women when this comes up, "I may have stirrings of stirrings of possible feelings for you but I am what I am and that's all that I am, take it or leave it." I don't care who it is, there is no woman, man, other, etc. alive that is the bees knees to the point where you should disregard and change you are (fundamentally speaking). Further, all successful relationships are predicated on simple, little (white) lies.

I say, say what you can, haggle it out but don't change who you are. Praise the Gods.


i totes agree.

Dez
10 Feb 2012, 19:34
I think you've been given some sound advice.

If this girl likes you enough that you've been together for give or take six months, and she's been taking you to church, it sounds more serious (at least IMO).

I'm not sure this will work for you...I hope it will, but I grew up in a denomination where most parents were fine with their kids dating outsiders only as long as it looked like they were going to convert. It sounds to me like you want to be honest with her, but know it's going to hurt.

AuroraWinters
12 Feb 2012, 10:53
If people don't say they're not Christian, people around them tend to think they are. And especially with accompanying her to church, she has no reason to believe anything other than you follow Jesus as devoutly as her. And considering that she won't take you seriously unless you actually join the church, it sounds like having compatible religions is very important to her. No, I don't necessarily think it's right or fair for someone to end a relationship over differing religions, but so far, you've been deceiving her, (even if you've never come right out and said "I'm a Christian," your actions and lack of conversation about anything else have basically been portraying that statement), and it should be her choice to make based on all the facts.

I know you've only been dating 6 months or so, so it's not super serious yet, but if she's wanting you to not only come to church with her, but join her church, she is obviously thinking that you two could be more serious, which means you have to project a little into the future and think about how keeping this a secret could affect you down the line. You join the church and are constantly put into situations where you are doing or saying things that contradict your true beliefs. Not only do you feel uncomfortable but this is basically another lie to this girl you care about as you are demonstrating that you believe the same thing she does. It gets more serious - she wants to get married in a church, you go along with it even though it's another lie. You move in together, and you want to practice your rituals... do you wait until she's sound asleep and then sneak into the woods, hoping she won't wake and find you gone? You have kids and she wants to raise them Baptist, but you don't want to indoctrinate them... Do you keep "going along with it" just so she won't find out?

Clearly, this is stretching things a bit far - I doubt you're ready to run out and buy a ring any time soon... My point is that religion is a big deal (or dealbreaker) to some people, and it only gets more complicated to come clean as time goes on. Unless you want to forever hide your true beliefs, and in essence, lie to her about following her beliefs, this is a conversation you need to get out of the way to find out if it could truly work. No matter how great you are in other areas of your relationship, if religion is a dealbreaker for her, better to find out now before you invest more time, imho.

StrodeTheBull
12 Feb 2012, 16:27
Thanks for the advice guys...

Some of it was hard to hear, but it was also stuff I've been thinking about already.

Everyone said something with truth in it, and that's the problem, because there are some very opposite opinions.

This is really tearing me up because I've never cared about someone before. Lately I've been seriously considering trying to actually become Christian, but then it's like a song plays in my heart that kills that thought dead in its tracks. I love my ancestors. I breath and live them, and that foreign prophet was the bane of their cultures... How can I betray them?

But is it a betrayal?...

I've meditated on this for months. I've spent hours at a time alone in my chair just thinking about it. The best I've come up with is that I need to be silent about it and see where my heart goes with her faith. The pragmatic side of me says she would be a good mother and wife, plus the basic morals of her church are good I suppose. There are worse things than a very good and loyal woman like she is.

TL: DR

Here is what I think I should do: Wait and see if I can actually accept her faith as my own, and if I can't I'll just tell her I'll never be the type of Christian she wants me to be, and she would have to accept that.

GabrielWithoutWings
12 Feb 2012, 19:19
First, welcome to the forum.

Second, if you convert, then it'd better be because it's what you would've done even if she weren't in the picture. If you can't say that, then I would hold off on formally committing to anything.

That said, you know your situation better than any of us. Good luck.

habbalah
12 Feb 2012, 20:37
Here is what I think I should do: Wait and see if I can actually accept her faith as my own, and if I can't I'll just tell her I'll never be the type of Christian she wants me to be, and she would have to accept that.

Like Gabriel said, if you're converting for yourself, then I wish you the best of happiness. However, I do worry that you're going to be converting because of her. Trying to force yourself to be something you're not for someone else rarely works out. It usually ends up breeding resentment towards said person that you're changing for. I hope whatever you decide to do works out for you.

Branflakes
15 Feb 2012, 13:25
I think she should/will find out about your faith sooner or later. Better--in my opinion--that you're the one to tell her.
This is how I envision something like this happening (though I could be completely bonkers totally wrong):
One should approach this casually, and not to slap labels on it immediately or anything. Perhaps whilst you are talking about church or how awesome church is or something (if you ever have those conversations) say something like, "You know what always made me feel close to God?" and she'll say "What?" probably, and you can say, "Being in the woods" or whatever actually makes you feel close to deity. Use terms she'll at first be able to connect with. Even if she doesn't know you belong to more--shall we say--pagan tendencies, she'll at least understand your spiritual views from a broader sense. (I find this especially useful with people who have never been exposed to pagan ideas, because the majority hear "pagan" and think of all the negative connotations hooked on the term. Explaining yourself as pagan without ever saying "pagan" will make it appear more "benevolent" in a way, I think.)
Well, anyway, that's my idea...

Stoph
15 Feb 2012, 23:30
If you want to test the water, try asking her if she'd love you if you were ____________ (Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or any of the other larger non-Christian religions). If she says no, it isn't really you she likes, but some you that she is imagining that you are...

Id say start with that, and upon her response just say the truth, that you arnt realy a church problem. from the tone of her voice and what she is saying will give indication of how it will go from there.

But honestly, id imagine you have a fight on your hands, ive met baptists before and... well, everyone is wrong but them, ill put it that way :-p chances are ya gonna be called a Devil worshipper, and your hand shall be firmly planted on your face

ThatKrazy
17 Feb 2012, 16:03
My advice is to be open with her, especially if you are open to conversion. If you are both mature enough to get past the initial shock of the fact that you aren't Christian, this is a great opportunity to talk about your core values and what you want in life. You may find you have more in common than you think. Every Christian man I've dated has been very accepting of my pagan beliefs. The only derisive comments I ever got were from an atheist who didn't respect me having beliefs at all. When I opened up to a devout Catholic friend of mine about some of my alternative beliefs, she surprised me by admitting that she believes in fairies. Another admitted he believed in ghosts. The Catholic man I'm currently dating shares my innate respect for nature and the belief that there is something sacred about trees. A middle aged nursing friend admitted she believes in healing touch. These may not be deep issues, but they were ones that people surprised me with. I believe deeper issues, such as human and civil rights, are secular and anyone with any beliefs can get behind. When you talk to her, concentrate on those issues that are most essential to who you are. If she can accept those, she should be able to accept you no matter what your faith is. If she can't, especially when you are not closed to the idea of conversion, then maybe there's someone better for you.

DanieMarie
18 Feb 2012, 07:09
The only derisive comments I ever got were from an atheist who didn't respect me having beliefs at all.

I actually find that really common as well. I don't know a lot of fundamentalist Christians, but the Christians I do know are pretty accepting of others' beliefs. I have a lot of atheist friends, however, and some of them can't accept or understand why people would be spiritual and religious. i've gotten everything from explanations of basic science (I support science, but thanks for that) to a copy of Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' lent to me. I have a very close friend with whom I simply avoid any talk of anything like that all together, because he always has to be right and I know it will turn into a massive fight (and it's the reason I could never go out with him...I know he wouldn't accept my beliefs as 'logical').

thalassa
18 Feb 2012, 07:29
I have a lot of atheist friends, however, and some of them can't accept or understand why people would be spiritual and religious. i've gotten everything from explanations of basic science (I support science, but thanks for that) to a copy of Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion' lent to me.

...and nevermind the number of scientists that are spiritual and religious.

Actually, one of the most spiritual and religious persons I know happens to be a physics professor. And heck, my degree is in biology (tbh, the more I know about *how it works* the more magical it is)...the guy that taught my developmental bio and evolution classes was a devout Catholic. And never mind that the minister of my UU congregation was a physicist before he decided to go to seminary.

DanieMarie
18 Feb 2012, 08:34
...and nevermind the number of scientists that are spiritual and religious.

Actually, one of the most spiritual and religious persons I know happens to be a physics professor. And heck, my degree is in biology (tbh, the more I know about *how it works* the more magical it is)...the guy that taught my developmental bio and evolution classes was a devout Catholic. And never mind that the minister of my UU congregation was a physicist before he decided to go to seminary.

Yeah it's totally biased. I also know religious scientists. Being religious doesn't have to mean discrediting science, and being a scientist doesn't mean having to cut out a spiritual nature if you have one. Though of course many scientists are atheists, I think often scientists can tend to have a spiritual side for the same reason that many scientists I know are also highly creative and artistic.....science involves thinking outside the box.