- 2 years ago
- Wedding: June 2020
I need advice on how/when to approach the subject of religion with my in-laws.
I have never told them point blank that I was raised and am an atheist, but they know I am not a part of Christianity and that I don’t attend church, so I assume they know. They raised my Fiance in a Lutheran church in the Midwest, and he still is religious. We have had many religious discussions before to simply understand each others beliefs, and accept each other and don’t plan on changing the other at all. He’s more of a non-practicing Lutheran that doesn’t have God as a part of his daily life, so I think that’s one of the main reasons it has worked really well between us. We have also agreed upon how to raise our kids: not baptizing them, teaching them about all religions from a young age, letting them decide (as they get older) if they want to attend church, and if so which one(s).
As I dated my now Fiance, I have been invited to go to church with his family many times, usually for the occasions his entire immediate family goes, which is holidays. They’re not the type of people that go every Sunday or pray before a meal, etc., but do believe in no sex before marriage and the like. Anyway, I have gone to church with them once in the past four years. It was nice! The church, the people, the sermon, everything was nice and I like how the pastor took Bible passages into a new, modern day equivalent meaning.
Of course I felt extremely awkward and out of place, and one of the reasons I haven’t gone with them since (besides not believing in God, not seeing the point, etc.) is because of my nervousness/anxiety of feeling like a fish out of water that has no idea what she’s doing with his parents half watching how I react to things. Last Christmas I was invited to church, but couldn’t go since I was still recovering from the stomach flu, and then the events that transpired this Christmas is what inspired me to write this post.
This Christmas I was at their house when they were planning to go to church (always on Christmas Eve) and was wish-washy the entire day about going due to my personal beliefs, but also not wanting to let down their expectations, especially now that we’re engaged, but also not setting up them to think that I will be more active in their church or change my beliefs when I have absolutely no intention to. An hour before we were set to leave, I decided not to go because
1. I was exhausted from many weeks of running around and wanted to rest, especially since they wanted me to come to their friends party that they knew would run until 2-3am (and also where I found my car door completely smashed in from a hit run…of course I didn’t know that was going to happen at the time)
2. I needed to wrap 4 last minute gifts as we had just gotten photos we had taken back from the photographer and wanted to gift them to our families.
3. I was also sick (with just a cold) and had a splitting headache, which I knew ibuprofen and some rest would help cure, so I could enjoy the aforementioned party.
I told his mom first, and despite seemingly to be the more religious one of the two, she just kind of said, “Oh, okay.” I did give my reasonings listed above as well. His dad looked at me and said, “you’re seriously not going to church with us?” I replied, “…no.” And he left the room. We didn’t spoke of it again, had a great time for the rest of our visit, and my Fiance said they didn’t mention anything about it when they went to church.
I’ve moved on past this episode, especially since they seem to still be very accepting of me otherwise, HOWEVER I am now worried about how they’ll react in the future when we don’t baptize our kids. (the wedding I’m not worried about – Fiance and I already have an agreement on the ceremony to appease both families) For his family, baptisms are a huge deal and a family celebration. His mom had her friend’s grandchild’s baptism card on her fridge for nearly an entire year after it happened! I don’t completely understand why it is (something I should ask them) so important, especially since they’re specific church believes babies go to heaven automatically since they don’t have a chance to sin, but it is.
I know children are far in the future for us, but it’s on my mind now and I think having religion talks with them now can make my Fiance and I’s joint religion decisions seem less jarring for them. I don’t want to have a baby and then when they ask when the baptism is, just say “Oh, we’re not doing that.” It would break their hearts. So it’s best to ease them into this, I just don’t know how to. And don’t get me started on the grandparents. They might recognize me as family when they find out…
TL;DR – I’m atheist, FI’s family are Lutheran and want me to attend church, and expect me to baptize my children, which I have no intention of doing. How do I bring up religion with them and ease them into the knowledge that we have no intention of raising our children in the faith? (unless they decide to when they’re older)