I rarely gave it much thought, this religion business. I believe in souls, life after death, in some other worldly essence beaming down on us. I believe in a higher purpose and I've wondered if I'd be happier if I possessed more spirituality. Yet I don't buy the Catholic faith I was raised under. I'd pretend to be asleep just so I could avoid going to mass on Sunday mornings and once I experienced several panic attacks while standing in a hot and crowded church for an hour, I stopped going altogether.
"Dad, why did Jesus get super powers and I didn't?" I'd ask, but no answer was ever to my satisfaction. I just couldn't wrap my mind around those stories. Reading the Bible is no easy task for a skeptic; it was an exercise in suspending reality and I quickly grew weary of questioning every line I read so I never got much farther than the point where everybody begot everyone else.
But I was baptized, I went to Catholic school and did my first communion because that's what you were supposed to do. Did I understand any of it? At 10 years old, not really, but I memorized the Our Father and Hail Mary and recited them mindlessly upon demand. As soon as I had a say, I stopped attending mass every week. I haven't done my confirmation and I haven't followed through on Lent traditions in years. Still, saying I don't believe in God outright seems too harsh, too final. What if there is one? So I've been hanging somewhere between belief and non-belief, not giving it much thought and hoping my own moral compass is enough to steer me through this life.
How ironic that now that I'm dating an atheist, religion is regularly a topic of conversation and I've had to question my own stance on the subject. A.'s position is crystal clear: he uses his understanding of the natural world to determine that there is no god or any supernatural being. Not an easy pill for everyone to swallow and I've wondered if our small differences would cause hurdles in the future. But it all comes down to this: at the end of the day there's just mutual love and respect. We listen to each other with open minds, accept the things we agree on and simply acknowledge the things we don't.
Any future children will choose their own paths once they're fully aware of their choices (so no infant circumcisions or baptisms) and if they do go the religious route, we will love and support them completely. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they see fit so long as they don't impose their beliefs on others or condemn those who reject those views.
But still, even though it shouldn't matter, a tiny part of me worries about what my family will think once they learn of the choices we'd make, the judgments that would be passed around dinner tables. Leave it to Catholicism and that ingrained guilt trip.
What's your stance on religion? Have you ever been in a relationship with someone whose views differed from yours?