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How do you explain your faith?

(91 Posts)
TooBusyByHalf Wed 03-Jun-15 08:29:59

If you believe in God how do you explain to non-believing friends and family why you believe? And from there, how you got to following your particular religion?

I am finding it very hard with new and fragile faith to articulate to my atheist DP why I'm even doing this. And I'm not getting very far with just saying it feels like something I need to do etc.

How would you explain your faith?

capsium Wed 03-Jun-15 12:55:44

I explain how my faith gives me strength and comfort through hope and that it actually encourages me not to worry. The last, I feel, is particularly countercultural but something that I feel is very valuable. Everything in today's society seems to be telling people to worry but this just causes stress and ill health. My Christian faith shows me that it is OK not to have all the answers, I'm not expected to. So as a result I am happier.

Perhaps you can say that you are on a journey and you are taking it a few steps at time. You can't see the end of that journey but it is a path that you feel that you need to explore.

I suspect that your DP will need a lot of reassurance that you are not going to turn into some fundamentalist nutjob. As much as I understand the atheist worldview from the outside one of the foundation stones is that faith and fundamentalism are equated so that Christians are all right wing homophobes and all muslims are closet members of IS. This is clearly not the case as the lovely ladies (and men) of faith on MN demonstrate but I can see how some atheist friends and family might be worried.

In my journey I was raised as a Christian but did the rebelling bit in my teens and was an angry atheist but in an era pre Dawkins. When I came back to faith at university I had to hunt around to find the more reflective side of Christianity which wasn't part of the student scene. I was very blessed to find mature Christians who were passionate about politics, poetry, literature and mystery. Over the years my work colleagues before I was ordained and my family are a bit mystified but as my faith is a source of life and strength to me they are happy for me.

Hope that helps.

Ragwort Thu 04-Jun-15 08:14:32

I think capsium puts it very well. I also don't worry about trying to 'explain' it too much - sometimes I can't even explain to myself why I have a strong faith. grin.

My mother is constantly trying to get me to 'explain' why I believe, she is very educated and well read - has read the bible a couple of times probably a lot more than I have and wants a 'logical' explanation of why I believe. I can't give one. I just accept that 'it's just the way I am' - like I accept she loves watching ballet and I would find it an utter bore to have to sit through a performance but can understand that for her it means something.

Don't know if I've explained that very well confused.

sunnyspot Thu 04-Jun-15 21:24:13

I think greenheart is right in that your DP is probably worried that you are going to morph into some unrecognisable radical being. You need to re assure him that you are the same person and you can still enjoy doing the same things together. My DP is also an atheist but can see how much my faith enriches my life and so is accepting of it.
I think you just need to give him time to get used to it.

ShaynePunim Fri 05-Jun-15 12:08:36

If you can't explain your faith - then that's fine, just tell your DP that you can't explain it.

She might be worried that you'll change, or that you are being brainwashed, or are going to try to convert her... just try to be open and reassuring that none of those things will happen. smile

QofF Fri 05-Jun-15 22:22:31

too I have been thinking about what write here as I wanted to respond especially as am another person with atheist OH but everything I have started to write just leads me to conclude that you can't explain faith to an atheist. Nothing I could ever say would ever be able to convince a non believer. I am aware it seems illogical but yet to me it is something I am wholly convinced of, that has transformed my life and the presence of God is as real to me as the presence of my ds who has just sneaked into my bed and who's presence I can verify with all my senses. i am aware that must sound crazy to a non believer but my dh and non believing friends and family I think know me well enough to know that to me it is not a blind belief, I have not been brainwashed and I am still the same lefty, liberal type as I have always been and haven't sudden transformed into a Westboro baptist type overnight. We don't really discuss it and we just have mutual respect for each other's right to believe or not despite the fact we are all wholly convinced that we personally are right.

NinjaLeprechaun Sat 06-Jun-15 06:36:40

I don't explain, really, I don't think I need to make anybody else understand. I just say that it's what makes sense to me.

I appreciate that it might be different if you're talking to or about a partner, but I agree with a PP that what they probably want is reassurance that you're going to stay the same person you've always been. (And I absolutely understand this fear - I've had friends who changed themselves completely because of their religious beliefs.)

MI5agent Sat 06-Jun-15 06:57:56

Watching with vested interest

I have explained to dp that I have to go on this journey to explore my faith further and that I'm getting a level of peace, reassurance and support from it.

I feel it has changed me for the better and DP has implied it has changed me but he was sure not to say 'better' sad

I have also been clear to dp that I'm not about to a) run off with the vicar, b) hand 90% of our wages over to the church, and c) leave our dd with people I don't know within the church.

I suspect (experience of my DP only) that an atheist may potentially find negativity with any news of (in my case) Christianity and this is hard work to 'argue' or put across your faith, despite the awful things that have happened. My vicar actually said to me this week, 10,000 good things that Christians do will be outshone by the 1 negative in the media and picked up by atheists

Keep praying.

TooBusyByHalf Sat 06-Jun-15 09:24:39

Thanks everyone. As I suspected, it can't be done. Or not with my extreme anti-religion atheist DP.

The trouble is to her every person of faith no matter how liberal or wishy-washy is a fundamentalist nutjob (nice phrase, Greenheart).

capsium Sat 06-Jun-15 09:43:12

TooBusy I think it might be best to leave of trying to explain your faith, except in the simplest and briefest of terms, and focus on showing your partner how your faith does not affect you detrimentally but rather the opposite.

As she gets used to it, I think the conversation will inevitably move on. You have covered the initial, probably most difficult, hurdle of telling her. Hopefully now things will settle down.

TooBusyByHalf Sat 06-Jun-15 10:18:09

Thanks caps
It is DP who keeps asking, I'm not starting the conversation. And it is getting worse not better as she gets angrier and angrier. And I keep taking it and taking it and she gets angrier and so on. I am longing for the day when the conversation moves on. Kind of. Except it's looking like the next conversation could be divorce. And I really don't want that.

capsium Sat 06-Jun-15 10:26:56

Oh, I am sorry, that must be really tough. I'll be praying for things to work out better for you, xx.

Theknacktoflying Sat 06-Jun-15 10:29:34

Could it just be one of those things you agree to disagree on?

I don't think it is something you can explain to someone openly hostile to the idea of organised religion and it is futile to think that there is some off-pat answer to convince the unbelieving.

Also faith is forever being questioned - I would be a bad Christian if I didn't question, investigate or review my faith and just accepted things.

Trisagion Sat 06-Jun-15 12:22:32

Essentially religion is not a set of beliefs in the same way that science is a set of 'facts' which have been proved by experiment and a conclusion reached. Much Religious thinking in recent years is remarkably undeveloped and primitive and the way it is presented in the media makes it unsurprising that many see those who practise their religion as deluded.

Religious belief is the way a life is lived, an understanding of transcendence, a self forgetfulness which is not simply an external reality out there but is is identical with the deepest level of our being.

The contemplation of the unknowable is shared with the greatest of scientists, mathematicians, poets and philosophers. It brings delight, joy and astonishment.

I suppose music is the best analogy which highly cerebral, akin to mathematics but enables practitioners and listeners to go beyond the reach of words. It isn't about anything.

But unless your DP can get over his anger and truly attempt to be there with you, any explanation or sharing is bound to be doomed.

keeptothewhiteline Sun 07-Jun-15 16:03:49

For me the intellectual hurdle would be the stumbling block.
Christians are blind to reason- and this would irk me. If my children became religious then I would accept it in the same way as if they had a tattoo or bought a motorbike.
However my relationship with my OH is different- we don't have such an unconditional love.
If my OH became a christian it would be the end of our relationship.

Ragwort Sun 07-Jun-15 21:33:57

Keep - do you mean that it would be the end of your relationship with your DP if he/she adopted any faith or is it just christianity that you would find so difficult?

keeptothewhiteline Mon 08-Jun-15 06:42:31

It is the Abrahamic faiths that I have most issue with.
So worshiping an extrinsic god and paying tribute to a misogynistic system would be thimgs I could not respect.

TheyreMadITellYouMaaaad Mon 08-Jun-15 07:13:53

Perhaps TooBusy's OP's hostility is partly related to fear: fear that they are no longer the centre of TooBusy's focus, fear that TooBusy is growing away from them, almost as if TooBusy was embarking on an affair with A.N.Other.

To me, my faith is that there is more to life than that which we can directly experience or understand. Radioactivity existed even when people had no concept of it, no understanding of it, no way to detect it. Just because you don't know about something does not mean it does not exist.

My faith is not a set of strict rules to follow mindlessly, but a guide to life and a deeper connection to individuals, community, and history. My faith also requires of me to question my choices and take personal responsibility for them.

I love the PP's analogy to music.

buffyp Mon 08-Jun-15 07:29:28

Well I couldn't respect anyone who didn't allow me to have my own beliefs because of their own bigoted and prejudiced views. Stating that christians are blind to reason is completely wrong as is testified by all the highly intelligent and perfectly reasonable Christians who post here and in lots of other places too. I make no apologies for my faith which has kept me going and given me strength since my sons death and I think it's sad that some people in this world would want to deny me that.

TTWK Mon 08-Jun-15 08:58:16

Well I couldn't respect anyone who didn't allow me to have my own beliefs because of their own bigoted and prejudiced views.

So if your other half suddenly announced that they were becoming a Satanist, you'd be fine with that, would you? If not, would you describe your horror/dismay as bigoted and prejudiced?

keeptothewhiteline Mon 08-Jun-15 09:33:31

bigoted and prejudiced views.

A perfect description of christianity.

capsium Tue 09-Jun-15 11:06:03

This song illustrates that there should be some middle ground to be found, I feel.

TooBusyByHalf Tue 09-Jun-15 17:59:04

That's lovely, caps. Thank you for posting it.

capsium Tue 09-Jun-15 18:17:37

Heard it today on the radio and thought of you, xx

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