Competing with Church


From The Guardian

A letter to My husband, who ‘found God’:

You weren’t religious when we met and married 10 years ago. Your Catholic upbringing and strict schooling had understandably put you off. I don’t have a spiritual bone in my body, preferring to believe that people can be kind and help each other, without the church and its many downsides.

But then you started secretly reading and thinking, and didn’t talk to me about it. You started going to lunchtime religious meetings and gradually a flow of books came into our house, quietly stacked on your bedside table.

You have had some sort of “experience”, which we haven’t talked about, and now want to go to church and join associated groups. This has caused us great pain and conflict and I feel this creates a huge and profound rift between us. It’s more than having a separate hobby I’m not part of – we’ve always felt that was healthy – as it challenges our fundamental shared values.

We have tried to talk about it, but you are silent or defensive in the face of my astonishment, concern and anger. We have found it so hard to talk about, that we have written to each other outlining our position, which seems crazy but has helped a bit.

This is a lonely problem for me as I can’t tell our friends and family, most of whom would be negative about your changing; most of our friends are non-believers, and many are quite anti-religion and might think you foolish or having changed fundamentally – I don’t want them to think badly of you. It is like a shameful secret to me.

I have been upset and cross about this, and you find it hard to talk about as you feel defensive and misunderstood. I worry that this will intrude on our life and family time more and more, and that it means you have changed your core liberal tolerance regarding things such as homosexuality and abortion.

You assure me that this isn’t the case, and I suppose we have made some progress in agreeing that we can’t argue about belief – you either have it or you don’t – but it’s the church that we could disagree on. I am angry that the church doesn’t spend as much time helping people as it could, preferring to “worship” and evangelise, plus that many “Christians” are hypocrites, who “worship” but don’t do much to help others practically, and in the main do things I don’t think Jesus would have done, such as having lots of money.

So it is your joining a church, rather than starting to believe in God, that is so disappointing. You were always an intelligent, free-thinking, rather independent person, and I can’t quite get over you joining such a conforming and didactic organisation.

Plus, of course, I worry that this rift will create a “your wife doesn’t understand you” situation and that you will look for a more spiritually compatible person.

We aren’t sure how we will handle this yet; it is so sensitive and hard to talk about. But I love you dearly, and don’t want this to spoil our marriage or family life. I hope that we can accommodate it and move on as we have much shared good in our life, including our wonderful children, and I want us to get through this. But every Sunday I feel a dread, and I expect you do too.



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