What Should a Religious Couple Do When One of Them Becomes an Atheist?

Suppose that you were religious when you got married but you eventually began to question your faith… What if, years down the line, you had a conversation like this with your still-religious partner?

“Could you see yourself still being married to me if I were no longer a Christian?” I asked.

After a brief stunned silence, she replied: “Well, I don’t know how to answer that because that wouldn’t be you.”

Gulp. I ventured a little further. “Well, what if it were me? What if I weren’t a believer anymore? Could you still see us together?”

After a long thoughtful pause, she answered: “But that’s not the man I married. That wouldn’t be you.”

Neil Carter had that experience and it led to him and his wife visiting a counselor… from their church. Which didn’t exactly work out:

… a Baptist minister isn’t the best choice to mediate between an atheist spouse and a Christian one. There’s a conflict of interest there because two of the three people in that scenario will necessarily see the third as broken and needing to come back to Jesus. Our complicated situation demanded compromise, but for Baptists, compromise is a dirty word. It represents a falling short of what God wants and therefore must be resisted.

You can read Neil very personal post here. He also has some great advice for people who are going through similar battles right now, which are worth reading.

Incidentally, Dale McGowan‘s book about interfaith couples, In Faith and In Doubt: How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families, will be out this fall.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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