T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 20075
posted 02-01-2007 11:51 PM
This is an issue I am currently dealing with. I want to know if there are others that have the same... predicament, so to speak.
I apologize in advance if this is supposed to be in another place. Right now, I'm having to deal with my parent's opinion [mostly, my father's] of my boyfriend having buddhist beliefs. I keep my relationship with God private & I treat it very delicately. Upon meeting my boyfriend, I had never dated anyone outside of my own religion. It's not that I never wanted to, but that most of the people that hung around with shared the same beliefs as I did. I fell in love with my boyfriend for his mind, not his beliefs. This hasn't stopped us from loving each other & having a good relationship. In fact, our beliefs -- morals, standards, goals, spirituality -- are very much similar & his faith in God in his own way inspires me to have more faith myself. I respect him wholeheartedly for the way he thinks, as he does with me. We have no problem with his being a "buddhist" & my being a "christian." The problems we are facing are the opinions of others, preferrably my father. He believes that it's unnecessary & wrong for me to date my boyfriend because of the differences in our beliefs. He thinks we'll encounter problems along the way & simply cannot agree with our decision to continue to be together. We spent most of the night arguing about it. Although the simplest answer to this problem is to continue to maintain a relationship with my boyfriend, regardless of other's opinions [I am an adult, afterall], it's not easy when there is such strong opposition coming from a very important person in your family. I was just curious to know how other's feel about it. I know some are completely against interfaith relationships while others find a common ground somehow. I also want to know: when did things like religion, sexual preference, & certain morals make more of ruckus than the biggest picture, which is genuine love & compatibility in a relationship? That to me is much more important. & why must there be such a big issue surrounding this? I guess the answer is obvious; but why must it be this way? Sorry; this is sort of a venting session on my part. ;/ Again, if this is in the wrong place, or if this is a presumptuous topic to get on, excuse me. :]
Member # 568
posted 02-02-2007 12:19 AM
I'm a Buddhist, and I used to date a churchy Lutheran.
We had some philosophical differences, but for a relationships we both knew wasn't going to be forever, it didn't become a huge issue for us. Still, his faith influenced his opinions on more mundane things that did affect our relationship - ABORTION, primarily. And I don't think he liked not having a companion for Bible Study. Anyway, for Buddhists, dating outside the faith isn't a huge deal. We don't even require our followers to be exclusive to Buddhism. In certain places (LIKE AMERICA), the sparse number of Buddhists means it's just more feasible to date outside the religion. I can't say I've ever had a serious relationship with another Buddhist. Closest I got was the phone number of a Buddhist I met in a nightclub. So ask yourself this: do you foresee yourself making decisions like "which religion will we teach our children?" with your bf? or will we put up a Xmas tree AND a Buddha altar (we had both in my home)? And who would preside over the wedding? Still, I think my ex has sworn off non-Christian girls after having put up with me for 3 years. as for wanting to live in LA... if you spent a day in the town where i grew up, you'd understand why I think LA is a vast improvement. nonetheless, i'd rather be in the bay area. [ 02-02-2007, 12:21 AM: Message edited by: Gumdrop Girl ]
Member # 27966
posted 02-02-2007 12:27 AM
Interfaith relationships can be pretty tough sometimes, I gotta say.
I'm an Orthodox Christian, and while my boyfriend is the same, we've known many people in interfaith relationships who have found ways to make it work. I'm so glad to hear that you two are doing well in terms of avoiding any conflicts with each other- often THAT'S the biggest roadblock when people are of different faiths. Did you tell your dad the same things you've posted here- like how you two have found some common ground with your beliefs? You know, to be perfectly honest, you may not be able to convince your dad through debate that what you have is a good thing... but perhaps you can convince him through example? Let him see that you two are happy together; that you don't spend your time arguing doctrine. And while it does seem a little too simple, it's still true- you make your own decisions, and it's really not up to your dad to decide for you whether or not you should be dating a person of a different faith. Sometimes it can be rough, but it really is for the best to be independant. I'm curious- what ways have you and your partner found to avoid/deal with any religious conflicts, if you've had any? [And I have to add, Gumdrop Girl makes a really good point- if you do plan to have a future with him, you do have to address those issues for sure, as they can be a source of a lot of trouble for some.] [ 02-02-2007, 12:30 AM: Message edited by: leabug ]
Member # 31061
posted 02-02-2007 07:07 AM
Hey! I'm also a Christian. Hmm so you quoted the following:
[I was just curious to know how other's feel about it. I know some are completely against interfaith relationships while others find a common ground somehow. I also want to know: when did things like religion, sexual preference, & certain morals make more of ruckus than the biggest picture, which is genuine love & compatibility in a relationship? That to me is much more important. & why must there be such a big issue surrounding this? I guess the answer is obvious; but why must it be this way?] I'm not the greatest at explaining things so do ask for clarification if I confuse you. You asked for other people's opinion therefore I will tell you mine. Most of my opinions and values are based on Christianity. Therefore, I wouldn't date (yoke with non-believers) because a relationship beyond friendships requires unity of the spirit which is same-based belief of the two. I believe we as a human being all have a void which only God can fulfill. I would want to be involved with church life while a non-christian boyfriend may only attend church with me whenever it's Christmas or Easter. I would love to have someone to pray with me and encourage me through words in the bible to edure through the tough times making our love stronger. The bible also tells us that our body is a temple of the holy spirit and sex is only ok within the parameter of marriage. I look at it as sex is fire..it's warm and everything and marriage is the fireplace. If the fire is lit anywhere else but the fireplace, it will bound to burn the house down and destroy "us" emotionally having that "soul-tie" I agree with what you're saying about the "bigger-picture" which you mentioned genuine love. However, he may look at love as physical love ..temptating you. So I must say, there are many reasons of why this is a big issue. At last, give your worries to God and He will guide you if you seek Him.
Member # 31974
posted 02-02-2007 09:25 AM
Righty-o well, I'm Unitarian, which is one of the more accepting faiths certainly, and my last boyfriend was Orthodox Jewish. He had kind of the same dynamic going on with his mom as you seem to with your dad. However, faith was never an issue for us, and neither were his parents opinions, really, since we were 15 and 16, and so definatly did not plan to have children together. I was abosultely crazy about him, so what he believed and what I believed made no difference. But, had it been a more long term realtionship (it lasted almost a year, but say we were dating for three years, or seomthing) the issue of synagogue vs. church may very well have arisen. So really, I tihnk it's all up to you - is this a relationship wherein you definatly see a future? And if so, are you able to talk about things like marriages, children's faiths and such? (as Gumdrop already mentioned). Even if you won't wind up agreeing on every thing, I tihnk a great start would be just opening thaty sort of thing up for discussion. I suppose that as long as you're willing to compromise and not immolate your relationship based on who believes what, then you should be alright. If it really *is* important to you though, to keep your life centered firmly around all aspects of your faith, this might not win up the best long term realtionship. Best of luck ♥
Member # 20075
posted 02-02-2007 11:01 AM
Wow; I'm so glad that I got responses. :] I was afraid that this topic wouldn't fly over too well.
I have talked to my boyfriend about the issues surrounding our interfaith. What we'd like to raise our children -- if we have them -- is definitely something very important. But we both have chosen not to discuss this topic just yet because kids aren't in our future right away. Thankfully, he has mentioned that he gained most of who he is today -- his mannerisms, morals, values & beliefs -- through that of Christianity & the Bible [he was raised Christian & Mormon]. & that he wouldn't mind raising his children Christian. So, I suppose you could say that we've gotten that covered, but we haven't spoke about it since. I'm really quite tired of all the fuss surrounding this. I have talked to my dad about how happy my boyfriend makes me & to me, that is the most important thing. Our compatibility & love for one another. But, still, my dad sees it useless for us to date. Quite like what History Maker said. He practically echoed what my own parent's have said about it. & I'm not downing either for the way they believe because I understand that & believe the same thing as well. Afterall, I was raised Christian. Maybe I don't have enough spirtitual conviction; that may be the problem. I just don't see how I could ever stop being with my Lover because of his beliefs. I love him; it would be so shallow of me, in my opinion, to say to him that we shouldn't be together because of our beliefs. & also, if it's such a terrible thing for us to be together, why in the world would God bring us together? To give us feelings for one another like this? It's all one big, confusing circle I keep going around... I don't expect to find the answer here of course, just solace in other's opinions & stories. & also, Gumdrop Girl: my signature is a song from Death Cab for Cutie. :] I actually live near LA. I prefer the bay area myself. [ 02-02-2007, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: fille_francaise ]
Member # 30315
posted 02-02-2007 01:15 PM
Just to add my own story here:
My mother was raised strongly Catholic, and my father was raised Protestant - when they got married, they agreed to raise their children (my sister and myself) without any religious beliefs. As a result, I'm a pretty hard-core agnostic (my interpretation of this is just that I don't know whether there is a God of any sort, and I don't think that it's my place to declare his/her/its existence or nonexistence). My boyfriend is Reform Jewish, and while not incredibly religious, he does of course participate in the traditions and holidays and all that. We haven't really spoken about what religion to raise our kids or anything, but I'm fairly sure there will be a healthy dose of Judaism in their upbringing, which is perfectly okay with me. We might do the half/half upbringing, celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah, etc. (I will admit that I LOVE Christmas trees, so I may insist on getting one just for the sake of getting one... maybe make it a Hanukkah tree? ) - I'm saying this to show you that it's possible, if you're both spiritual people, which it seems that you are, to combine your beliefs in a way that doesn't marginalize either one. And it does seem like you've already begun to do this, so good job! Also, just my thoughts, but if there is a God, and he/she/it is benevolent and forgiving, then I would imagine that true spirituality in itself, not necessarily affiliated with a specific religion, is sufficient to demonstrate your faith. And it may be that he/she/it brought the two of you together to unite your beliefs and show you that religions aren't incompatible, because really, everyone is worshipping the same figure/entity if you think about it. They all just call him/her/it different names. Love thy neighbor, right?
Member # 20075
posted 02-02-2007 01:45 PM
You're absolutely right, LucysDiamonds. & it sounds so simple when you say it outloud. I'm having such a war within with all of this right now. It's awfully confusing.
My boyfriend & I have been discussing it all week, but we got further into discussion this morning. & it's left me feeling very confused. What to raise our kids, what not to raise our kids; our wedding ceremony, the vows; how to celebrate holidays; how to find compromise that our beliefs are completely different. These are all issues that haven't come up yet & won't come up yet for some time, but I feel they are important nonetheless. & being that I haven't done this sort of thing, I don't know what it fair & how to compromise with such a serious subject. Is it possible to just live in peace & love your partner in a beautiful relationship, without the confusion & technicality of religious beliefs? It is possible to make "religion" & "beliefs" the minority of the relationship & keep love, trust & communication as the majority? I've always been brought up to make God [religion, so to speak] the center of your relationships, as it keeps the relationship together. You know that old saying: A couple that prays together, stays together. Because this relationship won't have religion as the complete foundation, I feel like I am doing something wrong; that I am sinning. Yet, on the other hand, it feels right to be with him & to be in love with him. He's so incredibly intellectual & he has such a good head on his shoulders. He's charming & very loving. I know that if I spent a lifetime with him, it wouldn't be in vain. He would give me the life I well deserve... but it's been said that all of that goes out the door because we're not equally yoked & that is the most important thing. ?! This is really testing my own faith & understanding, most definitely.
Member # 25425
posted 02-02-2007 01:46 PM
My best friend and first big love is Christian, and I am Atheist. When we were dating it wasn't a huge issue for us, because we were young and not worried about how this would affect marriage and kids and the whole deal. But we got into a lot of discussions on the topic and I have to confess that many times, I just could not understand at all where he was coming from (and I know he felt the same regarding my opinions). But we always, always respected each other's views.
His current girlfriend is a Christian, like him. While it wasn't the reason why we broke up, it was part of the reason why we did not get back together years later and I know that he's glad he's with someone now who shares his views. And though religion is not a deal-breaker for me, I really don't think I want to date someone again who's deeply devout. I don't want to sound too negative. I definitely think it's possible to have a functioning interfaith relationship. But depending how deelpy rooted (and how different from each other!) it can get really difficult to integrate the two faiths.
Member # 32184
posted 02-02-2007 02:18 PM
A lot of people have given some really good points on this thread...
From my own experience, my mother is a(n admittedly lackadaisacal) Catholic and my father was raised Orthodox Jewish. They argued like you wouldn't believe about what faith to bring me up in... and in the end didn't reach a conclusion at all. Instead, they both blessed me as their faiths dictated and tried to teach me about the different aspects of their religions, and ultimately left the choice up to me. I really, really appreciate it now that I'm older, and although my current and past SOs have been along the same lines as me, faithwise, I want to do the same for my children. I think Interfaith relationships take a lot of work and understanding between both parties, but that they can be done. BOTH parties have to make the effort, though, and I've seen several cases where they *didn't* end happily because of just that.
Member # 3
posted 02-02-2007 03:11 PM
quote: A couple that prays together, stays together. I hate to be a party pooper, but did you know that divorce rates in the U.S. are HIGHEST in the Bible Belt, and among Judeo-Christians (born-again and conservative christians are actually the ones that usually top the census rosters with divorce rates amoung all christians: lutherans, apparently, amoung rates for all christian denominations, usually have the lowest rates of that group)? Interestingly, the lowest rates of divorce (in the U.S. anyway) per religion are among atheists (of which most sects of Buddhism are generally considered, since that may be of interest to you) and agnostics, and in states and areas with more diverse faith-mingling. Sadly, lines like that pray together/stay together stuff, and attitudes like that, generally tend to make the religious folks who do get divorced or have relationships fall apart feel even more guilty and isolated than they do already, too, and can also contribute to relgious people not really getting that they still have to tend to their relationships mindfully and with a lot of investment like anyone else for them to work. I mean, if you believe in a God, likely you think God takes care of a lot of things, but he or she still isn't going to take out the trash for you or split the chores, manage finances fairly, communicate with your partner for you, or take care of all the things in a relationship and life together that need tending to.
So, I'm not so sure that's true. Obviously, everyone's spiritual belief system (for those who have one) varies, and some dictate or suggest that given relationships are supposed to include or be dictated by certain faiths, edicts, dogma, what have you. But from a perspective of relationships, they're about people's whole lives. Certainly, if your religion is a BIG part of your life, the religion or belief system of your partner (or your/their ethics and polictics about your relgion or theirs) being in a big conflict IS likely to be a big issue. For instance, while my Buddhism isn't in conflict with most other religions, my politics and things like feeling very strongly about the full ownership of my body and equality of my sex are, so there's no way I could have a solid or supportive intimate relationship with a conservative christian or catholic. (Of course, it's perhaps worth mentioning that what people say they subscribe to and what they do differs. For instance, if this is the first person you dates outside your relgion, that means that the ex-boyfriend who raped you in the relationship shared your religion, which clearly didn't guarantee a good anything, or even a treatment of you that's in line with most denominations of Christianity. Did your father agree with that? Just food for thought.) All in all, I don't buy that agreement on spirituality is the most important part of a relationship, but then, that whole idea isn't part of my spiritual tradition, my ehtics, my politics, my mindset. If it IS part of yours, then it is, and that's something to bear in mind when you're dating and forging relationships from the get-go. I have a book to suggest for both of you that may help create a more productive and informaed discussion of this, on where Buddhism and Christianity interesct, called Living Buddha, Living Christ, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Go take a peek at it, might help. I think what might also help is taking some time -- just for yourself -- to figure out how YOU feel about your religion, where YOU really stand with it, and how imprtant it really is to you. So many young people reared in one relgion often don't really give themselves the chance to ask tough questions about it, as they're stepping into adulthood, what they were raised with is what is really best for them, and even totally separate from relationship issues, that's a really important thing to do. [ 02-02-2007, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]
Member # 8067
posted 02-02-2007 04:31 PM
Just to add to the Thich Nhat Hanh recommendation - you might also be interested in checking out some of the Christian thinkers who've been influenced by Buddhism, like Thomas Merton.
There are a whole bunch of people who are strongly rooted in one particular religion and in their spirituality, but not necessarily framing it in terms of one religion "versus" other religions.
Member # 20075
posted 02-02-2007 04:40 PM
Heather -- you were very informative. Thank you. I will certainly make sure to look up the book you mentioned. :] Matter of fact, I'm sure my boyfriend has heard of them. He's a bookworm.
I never heard those statistics before; they fail to mention that at church. ;/ Churches speak so badly about how the Lord abolishes divorce, yet, the rates are higher in Christians. Ironically, my parents -- who were/are devout Christians -- are getting a divorce after 20-something years of marriage. I have never quite believed that saying [a couple that prays together, stays together] because as you said, prayer doesn't take out the trash, handle finances, etc. Obviously, a relationship requires much MORE than just prayer in order for it to function correctly. I see things as you see them. I wouldn't quite say that I am what they call a "devout" Christian. Religion isn't my whole life; I will be honest & admit that. Of course I have my own relationship with God in my own way, but I don't feel I must go to church & must read the Bible to be considered spiritual. I know this disappoints my parents. Truth of the matter is, I'm still trying to find my way with this whole religion thing. Trying to explain this to them is difficult, though. & they're not so easy at understanding my point of view. Now, they feel as though THEY have done something wrong in raising me because I'm not a "Jesus Freak." You're absolutely right on all counts about my ex-boyfriend & his beliefs & the way he treated me inspite of them. No, I haven't explained that to my father in reference to me -- he doesn't know about what happened, mind you -- but I did mention that there are many relationships where people are completely steady in their religion, yet they're unhappy & divorced; I asked him to explain this & he couldn't. I wish I could say that I rest my case, but it's so difficult. I appreciate everyone's words of wisdom regarding this. It's helping me see that there is more culture in the world than I thought. :}
James the Dark
Member # 32379
posted 02-02-2007 07:21 PM
I don't know how much I can help, but I feel I should throw my two proverbial cents out there.
I am an agnostic, and I believe, as my grandfather once said, that the reason there are doors on bedrooms is to keep out pets, children, lawyers and priests. While it is hopelessly optomistic of me to say that religion shouldn't play a major role in a relationship, to make it a defining point, to me, at least, is something I would never do. I doubt I will ever find somebody sharing my particular beliefs, and I'm not troubled by that. The point is that if you connect with somebody, faith shouldn't stand in the way. Conversely, if you have a person who cannot reconcile his beliefs and your own, or worse, choses not to do so, then there is a gulf existing which might be insurmountable from the beginning. I guess the question falls onto the extent of his faith, and how far he's willing to 'bend' it to accomodate a separate, or even opposing, viewpoint. If he can't accept you and your beliefs... well... I don't remember who said it, but "feel free to welcome God into your house, but don't bother setting a place for Him at dinner." That's just how I see it.
Member # 20075
posted 02-03-2007 12:19 AM
Interestingly said, James the Dark. You have such great points, as does everyone else.
& also, Heather: I realized why the name of the author of the book you mentioned sounded so familiar. I am currently reading a book of his called Peace is Every Step. My boyfriend recommended it to me. ;] It's very good.