My entire life, I’ve grown up in a family where – for the most part – we did not attend church. I was baptized when I was a baby (apparently at my mothers insistence if you ask my father, if you ask my mother it was at my grandmothers insistence) and I think the only time we’ve gone to church as a family is for weddings. I couldn’t tell you what religion my mother was before she married my father (I think technically she was catholic?) but when she married my father, she converted to a member of the Episcopal Church (again, probably because my grandmother wanted her to) and that’s the church I was baptized in. Although Christmas is my favorite holiday – I don’t think we ever heard the story of Jesus and Christmas out of my parents mouths. It was just a time where we got together with family and loved ones – and presents. Lots of presents.
So imagine my surprise when talking to my mother last week about my current beau and after mentioning that he’s going to be fasting because it’s Ramadan, and she asks me, “Does that bother you that he’s muslim? You’re far more religious than I am.”
I was kind of floored by the statement. I’ve never really thought of myself as a religious person by nature. I don’t go to church every Sunday (although I try to go a few times a year) and the last major thing I did with the church was get confirmed in the Episcopal Church of my volition when I was 22. When I was in my early 20′s I had a huge fight with my cousin over her faith and how she proselytized towards me about my relationship with God. I make fun of all the psycho southern baptists and the religious right out there. Yet here’s my mother, sitting at Olive Garden with me asking if I had a problem with the fact that my boyfriend isn’t a christian.
The fact is, I am more religious than my mother. Actually, I’m probably more religious than 90% of my friends. I do believe in the teachings of the church as a general guide, I do believe that Jesus died for our sins, and I do believe the bible is the inspired word of God. I’m still a little unsure on the whole, Jesus is going to come back down and raise us up thing, since I’m more partial to a zombie apocalypse than I am the four horseman, but I’ve read the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, and I consider myself fairly educated and tolerant of others religions as well.
I’m fairly lucky in that the church I was baptized into is socially liberal and doesn’t conflict with my views there which was a nice surprise when I started researching, and deciding on my religion before being confirmed. It just so happened the Episcopal Church was the one that most closely resembled my beliefs. The Episcopal church is pro-gay, pro-civil-rights, and definitely pro-women-in-the-church as our current Presiding Bishop is Katharine Schori. They also have a surprisingly lax-view on prematerial sex, as most of the church teachings I’ve heard say, “any sin connected with sex has to do with exploitation and lack of respect of the other party.” As a whole, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth for organized religion, but I like the way the Episcopal Church does things. For instance, we just had our General Convention in which about a thousand people involved in the church get together and decide the direction of the church. Our Church is more of a republic – less like a dictatorship. (I’m looking at you – Catholics and the Pope.) (Also, if you want to read about what happened at our most recent General Convention, which just took place, here’s a great article on what the convention is, and what this one was all about.)
So after thinking about all of this, I decided that maybe this is something that I wanted to bring up with him – because I am fairly religious, and I don’t actually see myself switching religions (or him for that matter) and that obviously could have a long term effect on our relationship.
Turns out, since we’re both reasonable adults, this isn’t actually a problem at all. Now if only the rest of the adult population in the United States (or really, the world as a whole) could be as reasonable as us.