The One Thing Evangelical Leaders Don’t Want Christians to Know about Mixed-Faith Marriages (two links). by C. Cassidy
I do agree with the author that a lot of Christians demonize all atheists, which they should not do – but to be fair, many atheists I’ve run into online have been either unbearably smug or else they are out-right hostile to anyone who doesn’t share their particular take on theism or atheism.
I grew up in Southern Baptist Churches and was exposed to a lot of conservative Christian content around the home – Christian magazines, books, TV programs, and so on. Most of them went on and on about how sinful, unwise, or wrong it would be for a Christian to marry a Non-Christian, which they refer to as the “Equally Yoked” rule.
I used to be a believer in the “Equally Yoked” rule myself, until several years ago, when I began noticing several problems with it, one being there are more single Christian women then there are single Christian men, and, I’m all the time seeing news stories of Christian men who are jailed for child molesting, wife abuse, or what have you.
So, I realized it’s far more important to judge a man based on his actual actions and how he treats me (and treats other people) as opposed to what he claims to be his religious views.
At this stage of life, I’m more comfortable now with the idea of marrying a kind-hearted atheist man than a sexist or abusive Christian one.
Without further ado, here is the link with excerpts:
The follow up post to that:
[Summary: a Christian woman writes in for advice because her Christian husband of 20 years now says he’s an atheist. She’s not comfortable with his atheism but doesn’t want to divorce him]
…The idea of marrying a non-Christian is so far past unacceptable [to many Christians] that it veers into genuine revulsion and anathema.
I’ve got an old binder from a marriage seminar I attended at an SBC church in my mid-teens that painted non-believers as repulsive, ugly, dirty, unkempt people–in one illustration, a hobo-like non-believer is marrying a young woman in a perfect white bridal gown.
I’ve seen countless blog posts from Christian leaders openly wondering if non-Christians have the capacity to love at all, or can even conduct themselves in an honest and compassionate way.
… That’s the kind of demonization that non-believers are up against. So when a Christian lady finds herself suddenly married to someone who her faith system has been treating that way for decades, then yes, absolutely she’s going to be a little spooked.
Some leaders soft-shoe it by saying they just don’t (Link): “recommend” that Christians undertake that kind of “challenge,” painting such Christians as capitulating and weakening in their faith, or worse, actively violating the “icon” of the metaphor they perpetually paint of marriage as some kind of reflection of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church.
They use words like “mission” and “business” to describe the most important personal relationship most of us will ever have.
… But our Christian letter-writer doesn’t sound like one of those sorts of completely-indoctrinated Christians and she’s not willing to instantly throw in the towel. She’s old enough and experienced enough to know her indoctrination might be wrong here. She’s bought into a lot of her religion’s teachings, but not all of them.
… I can tell you one thing, though. Our letter-writer doesn’t know the one thing that her preachers and teachers don’t want people like her to know about mixed-faith marriages:
Millions upon millions of people have mixed-faith marriages and are doing just fine–in many cases enjoying more happiness and success than the Christian-only marriages do.
That means there’s no intrinsic problem with the idea of a mixed-faith marriage that makes one automatically doomed to failure.
Christianity–especially the evangelical and fundamentalist branches of it–teach that a couple cannot have a successful marriage marked by love and respect if one person isn’t exactly in step with the other religion-wise.
And I am here to tell you: that idea is totally false!
…The older folks are when they get married, (Link): according to a survey commissioned by author Naomi Schaefer Riley, the more likely they are to marry outside their faith, which tells me that these older folks are aware of the shortcomings of their religion’s teachings about interfaith marriages.
And yes, these marriages can be really difficult to navigate–especially for fundagelicals,*** whose religious ideology specifically tasks them with some very unreasonable expectations regarding marriage and some very inaccurate suggestions for how to behave in relationships even in the best of circumstances.
But fundagelical leaders don’t want anybody to know that it’s even possible.
…And yes, obviously, sure, we could talk all day about the Bible and how it actually tells Christians in this exact situation to stay married to their non-believing spouses.
1 Corinthians 7:13-16 specifically covers that scenario, specifically telling Christians that they are specifically not allowed to divorce a non-believing spouse as long as that spouse is willing to stay in the marriage.
But since when do “Bible-believing” Christians really care what the Bible says when it gets in the way of something they really want to do?
I’ve heard dozens of them rationalize why dumping a deconverted spouse is totally fine and even required, and the more Bible-thumpy the Christian, the more likely they are to have absorbed these rationalizations.
…So, Um, Do You Think Russell Moore Knows We Can Totally Hear Him?
In the end, the big problem with “unequally yoked” marriages comes from one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s leaders, Russell Moore, in one of those links I gave you earlier wherein he inadvertently reveals what his group’s biggest objection to the idea of interfaith marriage is:
But in a marriage of a believer to an unbeliever, the church has authority and discipling capacity over only one party.
//end Moore quote
… This culture war is about control over their adherents and gaining as many more as they can manage before the jig is up. And they know they can’t do that if their adherents start really getting to know non-believers and stop viewing deconversion as the worst thing that can possibly happen to someone.
Please (Link): click here to read the remainder.
Regarding this portion of the page:
That’s a boogeyman that Christian leaders fight against tooth and nail. They know that as their flocks get to know non-believers, they stop fearing them. The same thing happens with gay people, too, and Muslims, and ex-Christians, and all the other Others they’ve painted as their flocks’ dread enemies.
The more we get to know someone in a distrusted and feared group, the less able we are to maintain that prejudice we once had.
That’s why we often see a Christian fundagelical recant a previously-strong conviction of anti-gay bigotry once they’ve had a child come out as gay. It’s all but impossible to demonize an entire group when someone figures out that the war against that group is based on lies.
…Familiarity destroys that vision. With familiarity, Christians see that non-Christians–atheists, even!–aren’t the boogeymen their religion paints them as.
// end quote
One of my few misgivings of that editorial, which was otherwise pretty good, is that the same can be said, generally, for atheists and liberals – many of them spew hate and animosity against Trump supporters, those who want strong borders, Christians, or anyone who does not vote Democrat or support every SJW view out there.
I’m a quasi-Agnostic, quasi-Christian, but I am a right winger – I’m not a liberal, and I sure don’t agree with liberals on everything. I don’t agree with atheists on everything, either.
My feeling from watching TV news or scrolling through Twitter is that a lot of atheists and liberals have demonized Trump voters, Republicans, or Christians, so they’re fine spewing vitriol to or about those groups. I’ve had some of them be hateful to me on social media.
I’ve found that a lot of liberals and some atheists have blind spots in these areas. They’re quite good at pointing to the lack of love in others, but they refuse to see how they themselves can be hateful or rude.