Help me get my head around atheist friend getting baptised.

(41 Posts)
Nummer Fri 09-May-14 14:20:46

He constantly posts atheist and Christian-bashing comments/jokes/pictures on facebook. I find this unnecessary and sometimes offensive, but I never comment as I don't want to use facebook for anything other than lighthearted communication.

Anyway, he now lives overseas and is getting married to a local woman. The law there is that both parties must be the same religion so he is "converting" and getting baptised.

He is going to stand in a church and promise all sorts of things. It's not as if he's unsure what he believes - he has been extremely vocal about how he doesn't believe any of it. To the point that he tells people they are stupid to believe this.

I cannot get my head around how someone could do that. Is this a common thing to do?

jeee Fri 09-May-14 14:24:30

If it's truly the only way he can get married, then I completely understand.

When I read the title of your thread, I assumed it would be a 'how to get your child into the school of your choice' issue.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 09-May-14 14:24:46

I would think its extremely uncommon, but the fault here lies with the laws in the land he's living in dictating to people on matters of religion. What alternative does he have if he wants to marry this woman?

Nummer Fri 09-May-14 14:28:28

I guess I'm just really shocked. It doesn't help that he's being all jokey and flippant about it. I can't imagine standing in church and making those serious promises if I did not believe one bit of it.

ReallyTired Fri 09-May-14 14:29:57

Which country has such awful laws? I am surprised.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 09-May-14 14:38:56

From his POV, precisely because he doesn't believe one bit of it they aren't serious promises. He's probably being flippant because he's embarrassed by being put in this situation.

MerryMarigold Fri 09-May-14 14:40:54

I would imagine somewhere Orthodox.

Thurlow Fri 09-May-14 14:45:44

As an atheist, I echo what errol says which is that because I don't believe in God, I wouldn't feel that I am making serious promises, so I image your friend feels similar.

However I would feel incredibly uncomfortable about the whole thing as at least it is hypocritical, at worst it is deeply lacking in respect to those who do believe.

He may be joking about it because he feels so uncomfortable about what he is doing, though that is obviously coming across the wrong way to other people.

If the only way they can marry is for him to get baptised, or for her to renounce her own faith - which would presumably be massively hurtful for her family and friends if it is even possible in her country - then I think the 'wrongness' of saying things he doesn't actually believe is less than the wrongness of a system which does not allow two people to marry without such a silly requirement.

I'd guess like others that he doesn't feel able to deal with it except by being jokey and flippant.

So long as he is being honest with his fiancee, I don't think there's much else he can do.

deepinthewoods Fri 09-May-14 15:03:09

I don't see why you are shocked. Most christians I know pay lip service to their faith anyway. Some of the most self centred bigots I know claim to be christian, and use their stance to gain influence and power in society.
You only have to look to the church to see many examples of that.

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Fri 09-May-14 19:12:05

It's just a ridiculous hoop to jump through to access a right, in his case the right to get married.

No different from people who have to sit through church services to access the local state school.

Bumpsadaisie Fri 09-May-14 19:24:35

Well, Elizabeth I said we shouldn't "make windows into men's souls". We can't know what is really going on with your friend. Perhaps deep down he has a little fire glowing, despite how much he bashes Christianity.

Most people who don't believe don't think about it much and are indifferent. The fact that this chap is constantly thinking and posting about it suggests that something more is going on with him. Militant atheism and militant religion are really two sides of the same kind of coin.

ReallyTired Fri 09-May-14 19:25:05

WhosLookingAfterCourtney having to get baptised to marry the one you love is desperately unfair. I think think its unreasonable to compare to parents sitting through church services to get their offspring into church school. Getting married is a far bigger and life changing decision than whether freddie gets into St Posh C of E school or the community comp.

If you want to get married there is usually only one person that you want and love enough to marry. I feel that laws that ban two (unmarried and unrelated) people from getting married because of different religion are unbelievably cruel.

OddBoots Fri 09-May-14 19:29:25

So he had the choice between not marrying, coming back to the UK to get married or converting? Hmm.

ReallyTired Fri 09-May-14 19:31:33

Prehaps the girl wants a nice family wedding with her parents. Traditionally marriage is very much the brides' day in some countries. (not saying this is right or wrong)

Prehaps getting baptised meant that they kept the peace with the inlaws.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 09-May-14 23:08:11

Coming back to the UK to get married might not have been possible for all sorts of reasons.

'The fact that this chap is constantly thinking and posting about it suggests that something more is going on with him'
The 'something' could well be being hacked off in general by religious privileges and interference in peoples lives.

thegambler Sat 10-May-14 16:13:08

I'd say it's ver common. Think of how many people profess to be Christian but behave in a manner far from Christian ?

deepinthewoods Sat 10-May-14 16:17:49

Totally agree thegambler.

MerryMarigold Sat 10-May-14 16:22:50

For a stay the number of people who get their child Christened ie. Baptised, because it is traditional, but have little or no belief in christianity even if they may have a small (and infrequently exercised) belief in 'God'.

thegambler Sat 10-May-14 16:25:44

Even then the "belief" is merely spoken of so they feel better about themselves. If they truly believed they wouldn't behave as they do.

BillyBanter Sat 10-May-14 16:26:35

It's just a hoop to jump through to be able to marry who he wants in the situation he is in. It's not like he believes he'll be struck down by god for lying, is it?

Like those poeple who have to attend church so their kids can get into a particular school, or get married in a particular church because it's pretty. Some of those will also be atheists.

I expect it would be quite galling for him all the same to have to say stuff he doesn't believe.

deepinthewoods Sat 10-May-14 16:36:51

thegambler- wise words.

Kundry Sat 10-May-14 16:40:22

Maybe the bride doesn't believe much either but doesn't want to upset her family?

Both me and my DH are atheists so having a civil ceremony was important to us. But MIL still suggests we 'could have a church blessing'. She's pretty harmless though, not all relatives are. We nod and smile rather than tell her the truth, if she was more forceful and the culture was more encompassing we'd probably have stood through a church wedding and then gone off and been atheist quietly.

smartypants1000 Sun 11-May-14 18:12:27

I think all we can do in a situation like this is pray that the welcome of the church softens his heart and that he is shown some Christian love - pray to God to use this - a sacrament is always serious to God even if a person thinks they are doing it with two fingers up and a sarcastic smile.

thegambler Sun 11-May-14 18:44:15

So God can't tell if you are being serious or not ?

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