Posted by: Hope | January 17, 2008

Relgion, Relationships, and Children

I’ve been dating a guy now for a few weeks. It started off interesting, and still is interesting. When we first started to talk, my main worry was the whole religion barriers. I was afraid that our differences in religion would eventually come back to bite us in the butt. Do I still fear this? Yes, I do. This guy is Mormon, and I do not even believe in a God. One can only imagine the problems I would have with this. I have been trying to make sure that we are open with our beliefs and that we should not feel uncomfortable to discuss them. I feel the only thing I am still not akin to is that I feel as if he believes I will someday somehow convert to his religion. So from time to time I continue to ask him if I never converted, if it would change his view of me…at first he hesitated, but now he continues to say no, it will not. So before I continue to ramble more and more about the relationship, I wanted to ask how you guys feel about people dating/marrying when their religions are not the same?

I believe that it takes a lot of open-mindedness and patients for it to work, and it cannot only be one party participating in it. There is going to have to come a point in which you’ve got to agree upon something in many areas of life. Mainly, your children. How will they be raised? Under which religion of which parent? Should religion even be taught to them? Should both people present their beliefs and allow the child to choose? Or will there never be a common ground on how to raise the child?


How do I feel about that? I believe children have the right to choose their own religion. I feel that sure, the parents can be open (but definitely NOT pushy) with their religious beliefs. If the child has questions, be prepared to answer them…but do it in a slow way, which would not make the child look differently at the other parent. If the child goes to the opposite side of your beliefs–do not feel offended; everyone has the right to choose their own religion (as I stated before). But now the question is, will my partner agree on those terms? Well, that is something you would have to discuss with your significant other. Surely, each person will be different.


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  1. In general, a person’s beliefs about religion affect every area of life. The foundation of someone who rejects God and the foundation of someone who believes the things Mormons believe are almost completely different. A Mormon man would have a very difficult time having a wife who would not go to his church with him, accept as true the things his church teaches and to teach his children the same. I could be wrong but I don’t think you could be married in a Mormon church. There would also be conflict right off the bat with his parents, assuming they are both Mormon as well.

    As a woman married to a man with basically the same spiritual beliefs, I can tell you that there is enough potential for disagreements without intentionally adding a big one like that. Think long and hard about whether or not that is something you want to deal with every single day for the next 50 years.

    I can’t relate to letting a child choose for himself his own morality. I believe that the God of creation can be known and that I know Him. I wouldn’t dream of not telling my boys about Him and encouraging them to get to know Him themselves. Moreover, knowing what I know about God, encouraging them to try other “religions” is out of the question. We talk about other beliefs but I would never tell them anything but faith in Jesus Christ is o.k.

    Yes, each person is different as each situation is different, but personal beliefs go to the very core of a person and have a significant impact on relationships.

    Just my thoughts, fwiw,

    Mrs. N

  2. Personally, I have no problem in having a relationship with a person of different religion as long as they’re open minded, don’t hold views that i find immoral and don’t demand that i uphold any of their views. I am atheist myself, i don’t intend on being converted.

    On the issue of children, it is tricky. Because unless you make a conscious effort to guide them to a specific religion then they usually turn agnostic or atheist. Children essentially don’t have a choice on these things, they just follow what their parents say. If you can’t find common ground, it’s not right to have children.

  3. Mrs. N,

    Thanks for the response! Surely I am well aware that being married to a non Mormon in the Mormon church is completely unaccepted. And surely I have not discussed all areas of this topic with my significant other yet, we’ve only been dating for a few weeks. I’m surprised we discussed the subject of marriage at all yet. I’m sure the main reasons for us discussing it already is that he isn’t looking for a girlfriend, but a wife….and when he told me that, that made me want to start asking questions.

    So far, I feel that our conflicts in religion wont hinder us a great deal. As I’ve reflected in my writing, my only main worry is the raising of our children. He told me that he’d be willing to go with whatever I wanted to do, but whether or not when that time comes this is a true statement, I could not tell ya.

    Great hearing from you again!

  4. Alex,

    I know that children typically go with the religion in which their parents are, but thats why I find this situation confusing. How does a person go about teaching their child their religion when all the while the childs father/mother believes entirely differently? How would it make the child feel? It surely is not right to basically hold a debate in front of your child on the subject of religion and allow your child to choose who has the best argument. Thats just wrong. And maybe in turn could make them think badly on one or both of their parents.

    Thanks for writing!

  5. Yeah you’re right.
    But if the child does decide to take the religion of one of the parents, then both will have to accept. But teaching religion isn’t really a problem because I think that from the moment that any two people of different religion marry and live together, they must be both fairly open-minded and not very devout about their religion. So, unless there is conscious teaching, basically the child will accept the undevoutness and open minded views of the parents and may believe in a higher power but will not hold religion, any religion, to be very important and will not be devout in any religion.
    Instead,for example, the child may believe in God but not believe in the various not so important details that make up the various sects of christianity.
    If both parent really want to teach their own religious views to the child, then there is a problem. But that is a bit hypocritical, since one who is devout enough to badly want to teach their religious views to their child shouldn’t really be dating somebody who has very clashing religious views. Common ground can be found between a devout protestant and a devout east orthodox, and between a not so devout jew and a christian, but not so much between a very devout christian and a very devout muslim.

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