Ross and I just had an extensive conversation about God and religion. It's a topic that I am somewhat conflicted on. It's not something that rules his life but he is more religious than I am. I'm very happy that he is willing to discuss it with me and while we don't see eye to eye on it, we're close enough that its OK.
At first when we were talking about it today I was a little concerned that my indifference would really bother him. I'm very pleased that it didn't seem to. If anything he was inquisitive and open.
This all came up because at dinner on Sunday I said I didn't want to get married in a church. (Actually to be honest it came out very harsh. I think the direct quote was "I have no desire to get married in a church." That sounds much more anti-God than I meant.) And I don't want to get married in a church. We don't attend church. I've never attended church regularly. If anything I feel somewhat out of place in church. Like there is something that everyone else knows that I missed. And I don't want to get married in a place where I don't feel completely comfortable or that doesn't really reflect our relationship. Religion simply isn't a driving force in our relationship.
But I want to take my kids to church. Ross does too though he found my skepticism paired with my desire to teach my kids religion to be odd. And maybe it is. I think there are a few parts to that though.
1) I don't really have anything against church. I think attending church and Sunday School helps build community. I want my kids to feel strongly connected to their community.
2) Maybe I can learn with them. Just because I didn't learn religion really as a child (I have a feeling this would make my father very upset and I don't mean to, but again religion has just never been a force in my life.) doesn't mean I can't learn it later on.
3) I don't want to take my kids to church in a "I don't believe it but you have to" way. Its more that I want them to be better educated in religion. I want them to understand Christianity and be able to question it if they feel the need. But to effectively explore, question and develop their own beliefs, they need to understand. I just don't think I am capable of providing them with that understanding.
Whenever I have discussions about religion, I feel some internal conflict. I don't think a Bible is necessary. I believe that Bible stories aren't literal but are meant to teach lessons. This is a tough belief to have though when so many aspects of the Bible are referred to literally or celebrated for their literal story. However, if I take the Bible literally than I question it more. Why should we believe these fantastic stories? They were written by men and are therefore imperfect.
But if Bible stories are meant to teach lessons, I agree with many of the lessons taught, especially those outlined in the 10 Commandments. It is important to respect your parents. Faithfulness to your spouse is of utmost importance. Charity, generosity, forgiveness and kindness are all of absolute necessity. But do we need a church, a Bible or a minister to practice and teach those things? No, I don't think so. I can employ them in my own life and teach my children by example.
Finally, there are two beliefs that keep me leaning toward the existence of a God as opposed to agnostic.
1) Heaven. Too many bad things happen to end the lives of good people. The only way this can happen is if there is another place for them. I know there is no scientific proof of it, but I just can't believe it is any other way. All our loved ones must be somewhere else not of this world.
2) We are only given what we can handle. I'm not sure how else to put this though I am sure there is something more poetic. But I am confident that someone up there somewhere is making sure that we are never dealt a hand that we can't manage. If you have a disabled child it is because you are strong enough or because you need to and can be strong enough.
These are two things that I have faith in. I may struggle in other areas but these I feel very confident in.
When its all said and done, conversations like the one Ross and I had make me think a lot. I worry sometimes that I will be judged as a less good person because of my hesitations (a concern that is true but angers me as I feel I lead a good life, better maybe than many who attend church or believe deeply in God). I'm thankful that my honey is accepting of my questions and is open to discussing them. I am thankful that after the whole conversation he kissed me and said "I want to be where you are always."