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Avoiding Disaster... How To Do It?

By Sophie ~

I've finally come to ask for help.

After months of reading your posts in secret, trying to sift through the remnants of my faith, I can put it off no longer.

In five days, my boyfriend will come to town to spend time with my parents and to ask for their permission to marry me. Because of religious differences, I am terrified for this encounter.

Let me give some background to help you understand where this fear comes from:

I grew up in a non-denominational, very nontraditional Christian home - which, granted, sounds a lot less terrible than the tragic situations some of you have come from. However, even though my parents are motorcycle-riding, whiskey-drinking, fun-loving folks - they still believe that every word of the Bible is true and that Jesus lives and speaks to us. They are about as right-wing as it gets and they think their way of life (and thinking) is EXACTLY as God would have it be.

For about 22 years (that is, from birth to my senior year of college) I was totally on board with their world view. I loved their anti-religion philosophy and their generous, truly accepting mentality toward all people. For them/us, it was about a personal relationship with God - not how often we read the Bible (even though both of my parents read and study it obsessively) or went to church (and even though my dad is a preacher, technically). It was about living like Jesus - humbly and lovingly.

After all, I had felt God so powerfully so many times in my life - in worship with talented musicians and beautiful voices, in prayer with my closest friends, at the tops of mountains, in moments of profound love with family, friends and my boyfriend. I had wept tears of joy and gratitude at my smallness and His grace, glory and generosity. I felt safe, happy and blessed all of my life. Everything was always easy for me, thanks to Him.

Enter disillusionment.

As I grew older, I learned some things about my parents. As it turns out, they weren't as flawless as I thought. Like me - like all of us - they made plenty of their own mistakes. They weren't as accepting of "all" people like I thought they were. Also, they were (are) a lot more fearful and negative than I was ever able to see.

I still hold that my parents are loving, generous people. Just... not to as many different kinds of people as I thought. I don't blame them for the hard things I've gone through over the past 2 years of my deconversion, and I still want them in my life.

But I no longer find it possible to believe in the words of the Bible, for many of the same reasons you've all presented on this website, which is why I will refrain from going into them any further. I think it contains a lot of wisdom, and I truly value the morals it taught me. But as an English major, trained to decipher meaning and logic in a text and to think critically about it - the Bible no longer holds meaning for me as a literal or reliably historical document. I just can't see it that way anymore.

What that means for my theistic beliefs, well... I'm still working on that. I'll just keep thinking and reading, and someday I'll get back to you.

Now, back to why I'm terrified of the upcoming interaction between my boyfriend and my parents.

My parents - who still think that I'm as God-fearing as ever - believe that I should marry someone who is a Bible-believing Christian with world views exactly like "ours" (read: theirs). They believe I should be with a man who can "lead" me in a "Godly" way (this last bit I find to be especially funny, because I've always been pretty headstrong and not one to follow the crowd (unless my parents are the crowd)... begging the question, have they ever met me??).

My boyfriend is not a Christian, and he comes from an entirely different culture. So, no, his world view is not necessarily the same as theirs.

My boyfriend - we'll call him Mr. Darcy, because, why not? - is a very kind, thoughtful and mature man who is seeking his PhD. Most parents would be thrilled. My parents, on the other hand, would be just over the moon if instead Mr. Darcy was in a motorcycle club with a long beard and tattoos, and if his favorite shows were Duck Dynasty and anything Fox News related.

Mr. Darcy is a scientist. My parents are anti-intellectuals.

Mr. Darcy is a city slicker. My parents are cowboy bikers.

They'll tell me Mr. Darcy is not the right one for me, and that there is somebody else out there who is meant for me and who will bring me closer to Jesus. But the kicker is this: Mr. Darcy believes in a God in some capacity, to whom he is grateful for for life and happiness. My parents don't believe that's good enough.

As you can see, and probably imagine, I am in a tricky situation. I don't want my parents to know I'm no longer a believer, because they're not ready to accept that, and they'll blame Mr. Darcy for my backsliding. They'll blame my "liberal education," and most of all, they'll blame The Enemy.

They'll tell me I'm headed for destruction and that I will live a life of pain and sadness. They'll tell me I am not living as God intended, and that I will not receive His blessings.

They'll tell me Mr. Darcy is not the right One for me, and that there is somebody else out there who is meant for me and who will bring me closer to Jesus.

I wish I could say that I am strong enough to ignore them, but I'm not. My dad is a wordsmith amongst wordsmiths. My mom is so sweet and sincere, she makes me want to give her anything she requests.

I love Mr. Darcy (that's fun to write!). Seriously, I really do. I believe he is the best life partner for me, because he doesn't want anything from me except my time. And because of that, I want to give him everything. Not in a sacrificial way - he wouldn't want that. We each have some lofty ambitions, and we each want one another to succeed in them. We have made the decision to commit to doing our best for each other, to make each other happy, healthy, and successful.

I know I'm young and that I don't know everything. In fact, I know that I know nothing (shout out to Socrates). I just want to get my life started with the man I love, and I want to learn and be happy. I don't want to go on a "crusade" against Christianity, and I don't even want to go on a quest to discover the one and only path to truth.

I wish my parents could understand that, but I know they can't. I've been feeling them out for the last few months to see if they'd be open to the changes I've experienced, but what I've observed is not promising.

I need your wisdom, people of How do I get around this thing with my parents and my boyfriend? How do Mr. Darcy and I remain in their good graces without being believers? If things go terribly wrong when we have the marriage talk, what do I do?

Any help would be so very much appreciated.

And thank you all for sharing your stories and giving me the courage to think and feel freely.