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I have a faith, DH does not- what does this mean for our DCs?

(79 Posts)
ByeBabyBatshit Tue 19-Feb-13 20:57:17

Does anybody have a faith which is not shared by their DH?

I was brought up by strictly Christian family. Pulled away from it in my teens, came bqck to it in late twenties, really wrangled with it following suicide of a friend seven years ago. I'm not a regular churchgoer, which is down to laziness mostly, but my faith is an integral part of me.

DH is a scientist and remains an atheist until he sees scientific proof of the existence of God! We talked about this a lot before we were married, and I said all I ask is he continues to ask questions and revisit his views. He is supportive of my beliefs (Christian wedding, attending services to hear our banns read, etc).

However, we now have baby twin DCs, and we're clashing about how our views on faith will affect them. I want them to grow up as part of a church community, which means I have to start going to church again! DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks.

Has anybody else been in this position? How did you resolve it?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Feb-13 20:11:07

Hully, as long as the couple have shared values such as respect and tolerance it isn't a problem. It only becomes a problem when one person believes themselves superior to the other, or tries to use the other's belief or lack thereof as a weapon.

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 17:05:17

Hully, like I said, we definitely debate, and I've got one of those faces that is very expressive - my moments of 'wtf are you on??' show up loud and clear!

It's hard to explain really - he's not into quoting from teh bible, doesn't see it as a reflection of actual events, it's more about the way he lives his life iyswim. It's also about iinterpretation for him - the whole 'no contraception' he understands as 'have as many children as you can provide for physically and emotionally' so there was never any issue with that, he chose to read it that way.

It works for us, and DS definitely gets a very different set of views from each of us. I think though that DH and I share the same values which are not faith based but are broadly perceived as 'good, christian values'. These are just rules for life (be nice, be kind, etc) and I think that's why it's never caused a more major clash iyswim?

flossfour Wed 20-Feb-13 16:50:08

I have been in the same situation, except husband was committed Christian and I was the atheist. As I was the main carer, I brought up my children to look into every religion before making an informed decision and told them I would support them whatever they decided. However, my then husband had an affair and consequently ran off with my so called best friend (some Christian!!!!) and since then he has tried desperately to force religion down their throats. The end result: all four (now grown up) children are confirmed atheists!

Daddelion Wed 20-Feb-13 16:49:07

I think it'd be good for children to have parents with different views, they can hear different sides and get to make their own mind up instead of being indoctrinated to be atheist, agnostic or religious.

And let's face it, atheists could be wrong and and theists could be wrong.
You may think you're right, but you don't know for definite.

I also think children can grow up to have their own views regardless of their parents ideology.

Hullygully Wed 20-Feb-13 16:43:37

Sparky - I wouldn't be able to, I would not be able to stop saying "But you CAN'T think that..." etc!

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 15:41:59

Hully - a believer and an atheist can live very happily together, we've done it for 20+ years. It's about respect I think - he doesn't understand how I can get up in the morning without faith, I don't understand how he can believe so absolutely in something he can't see or touch but it matters not a bit because neither of us tries to brainwash the other into accepting the alternative opinion.

The difference of opinion in our house generates debate, certainly, but not friction.

Your point about DH wanting to share his joy in his faith is very valid, why would I stop him doing that when it's not causing anything negative for DS?

I think trying to force someone that you're right and they're wrong will never end well - we just agree to differ, and present both POV to DS. He'll decide for himself eventually smile

MadHairDay Wed 20-Feb-13 15:32:32

I agree with Dione. If you can model respect towards each other, and show your dc that even when vehemently disagreeing on something you can communicate and show thoughtfulness toward one another it will have a positive effect.

I think it must be very difficult, as Hully has said. But it can be done - niminy has shown this works in her house. It's a case of listening and respect. You may not respect his views even, and he may not respect yours, but you respect each other and love each other, and therefore find a way to compromise.

However, I can understand how you must feel pulled in two directions. As a Christian, I cannot imagine not bringing up my dc as part of a church community. This does not mean that I indoctrinate them. We teach them to think and reason, and do not teach them that 'they are Christians'. This is their decision.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Feb-13 15:26:24

Byebabybatshit, I think that you need to formulate your arguments for church going and then put them to your DH. Then you need to listen to his arguments against church going for the DCs.

I don't think his indoctrination argument holds much water, as all of the atheists I know were taken to church (many went to faith schools) as children. In the end your children will make up their own minds anyway.

The most important thing for your DCs is that they grow up with parents who love and respect oneanother. If you have this, they will be fine, if not, all four of you are in for a rocky ride.

How do these conversations go in your house? What is the tone?

Hullygully Wed 20-Feb-13 15:07:15

What I find fascinating is that if one IS a believer, of course you want to share and impart that to your children, how could you not? How could you not want them to share your (presumable) joy in your faith and the support it gives you, and also you would feel fraudulent and disloyal to the God you believe in if you deny it by keeping quiet about it.

I have no idea how a believer and an atheist could be together, let alone raise kids together.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:05:07

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:04:57

Have no idea what fundie book you got your definition out of, but this is actually the OED.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:02:04

Is that a religious dictionary, niminy? Because the 2nd definition I have given is, in fact, the Oxford English Dictionary.

Faith, in the religious sense of the word, means belief in the absence of evidence. Just does - and you know it.

I think I've told you before that I couldn't care less what you think of me. Tell Jesus.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:55:08

Elllie, as usual you have exposed yourself as rude, ignorant and prejudiced.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:53:54

OK Ellie Oxford English Dictionary:

1I. Belief, trust, confidence.

a. Confidence, reliance, trust (in the ability, goodness, etc., of a person; in the efficacy or worth of a thing; or in the truth of a statement or doctrine). Const. in, †of. In early use, only with reference to religious objects; this is still the prevalent application, and often colours the wider use.
b. Belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority.
2. Phrases. to give faith : to yield belief to. to pin one's faith to or upon : to believe implicitly.
3. Theol. in various specific applications.

a. Belief in the truths of religion; belief in the authenticity of divine revelation (whether viewed as contained in Holy Scripture or in the teaching of the Church), and acceptance of the revealed doctrines.
b. That kind of faith (distinctively called saving faith or justifying faith) by which, in the teaching of the N.T., a sinner is justified in the sight of God. This is very variously defined by theologians (see quots.), but there is general agreement in regarding it as a conviction practically operative on the character and will, and thus opposed to the mere intellectual assent to religious truth (sometimes called speculative faith).
c. The spiritual apprehension of divine truths, or of realities beyond the reach of sensible experience or logical proof. By Christian writers often identified with the preceding; but not exclusively confined to Christian use. Often viewed as the exercise of a special faculty in the soul of man, or as the result of supernatural illumination.

There are several more pages of definitions. None of them mentions belief without evidence. The closest is 1b, 'belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority', which is not the same as 'belief without evidence'. The OED is definitive -- there is no dictionary is more authoritative.

Kierkegaard was a nineteenth century philosopher, roughly contemporary with Charles Darwin. That's why I mentioned him.

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 14:49:22

I'm on the other side of this particular set of circumstances - I'm atheist, CH is Catholic and has a true faith which is an integral part of who he is.

DH and I see 'faith' and 'religion' as two separate things - he goes to church, bit he also questions the 'rules' that the Catholic church imposes and does not blindly follow all their dictates. His faith is a wholly positive thing, and he gets a great deal of peace and comfort from it which I do envy.

Before DS was born, we agreed that DS would be raised Catholic as long as it was the same positive experience for him as it is for DH - at the first sight of any Catholic guilt/hellfire and brimstone/judgement of others, I was very clear that things would have to change.

DS is 14, and so far so good. He goes to a Catholic boy's school, and is encouraged by both us and the school to challenge things that he's taught, and not to blindly follow.

I don't know whether he'll continue to attend church as he gets older, but for now it means enough to him that he got confirmed, and wants to continue to be part of the church community.

I don't believe what DH believes, but it doesn't hurt anyone around him, and so we just agree to differ. He sees the wrongs in the way the Vatican run things, but that's entirely separate to his actual faith.

We do have some absolutely cracking 'debates' about things like abortion - DS is learning that he has to be able to explain his views, not just regurgitate those of his teachers!

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:47:56

But really, niminy if all you can manage to do here is quibble over the definition of "faith" I feel that I've made my case quite soundly. As usual.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:47:47

You can't prove anything doesn't exist - gods, fairies, leprechauns, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

So what all sensible people do is to weigh the evidence - see how much there is for, how much against. For example, there is some evidence for Nessie, but it's mostly just anecdotal, and a few shaky camera shots and blurred photos. Against that has to be set the counter-evidence of the massive multi-sonar probe sweep of the Loch done as part of a BBC project about 10 years ago. Which found nothing.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:46:28

Evidence is the building blocks that we use to reach proof.

There is no evidence for God. None. Therefore there is no reason to believe it's true. Therefore belief in it is unreasonable.

Hiddenbiscuits Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:33

OP in our house we have agreed to disagree, i take DD to church on a sunday morning and he is grateful for a lie in! At the moment she enjoys going and has made friends but if she were to question in the future why daddy doesn't come we will explain some people believe in god and some don't and let her decide what she wants to do smile

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:15

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2.* Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence*. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.


1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence
2. a specific system of religious beliefs the Jewish faith
3. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Christianity trust in God and in his actions and promises
4. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason
5. complete confidence or trust in a person, remedy, etc.
6. any set of firmly held principles or beliefs
7. allegiance or loyalty, as to a person or cause (esp in the phrases keep faith, break faith)
bad faith insincerity or dishonesty
good faith honesty or sincerity, as of intention in business (esp in the phrase in good faith)


[mass noun]
1complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
this restores one’s faith in politicians
2strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof
bereaved people who have shown supreme faith
[count noun] a particular religion:
the Christian faith
[count noun] a strongly held belief:
men with strong political faiths

Everyone knows what "faith" means. That's why you're also always trying to play the "But God cannot be found with science" card.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:41:44

Re the definition quoted by Mrsrsisotto - there's an important distinction between proof and evidence. Evidence for something does not constitute proof of it. There may be evidence of the non-existence of God, but there is no proof of it. There may be evidence of the existence of God, but there is no proof of it. And the online dictionary does not define faith as belief without evidence.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:40:30

I'm always amused by people who want to let their children "make up their own minds" by exposing them to just one faith, and think that this offers a valid choice. It's typical of the "for us or against us" dichotomy one finds among many religious believers.

There isn't just your faith - there are thousands. There isn't just one god - there are thousands. I happen to think they are all equally fictional as there is an equally unconvincing case for all of them.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:39:35

Erm, niminy. Are you familiar with the term "quote mining"? Look it up.

That is ONE of the definitions. The first one (as you well know) is:

1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence

And yes - it's also confidence & trust in something - WITHOUT evidence.

You know perfectly well what "faith" means. The Bible tells you. Try reading it.

But you keep quoting obscure philosophers who existed before the enlightenment & modern science and thinking it makes you sound clever & knowledgeable.

msrisotto Wed 20-Feb-13 14:35:31

According to

faith [feyth]
1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:33:52

Ellie this is the second time you have been wrong about the dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of faith is 'Confidence, reliance trust (in the ability, goodness of a person; in the efficacy or worth of a thing; or in the truth or worth of a statement or doctrine'. It does not define faith as 'belief without evidence': that is an opinion about what faith is -- and not a very well informed one.

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