I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone who is going though an all too common problem. I need to say right at the start that I don't know the woman involved, and only met the man for the first time yesterday, and so my blog today is really just a reflection on the issue rather than my opinion on where this particular relationship sits on this.
The synopsis is, the guy is a man of deep spiritual faith, and a regular church attender. His partner is not. In fact she has stated she is not really interested in this aspect of life. So he's really struggling with this.
This is a pretty common situation, especially for the re-partnered. My experience tells me that it's incredibly difficult to maintain a whole relationship with someone whose core beliefs (as opposed to their core values, which are quite different to spiritual issues) differ to your own. But what interests me most is that Christians in particular, really struggle with this issue. Not only because it can impact on so many areas of life (raising kids, how weekends are spent, how to celebrate holidays), but also many really find it hard to come to terms with the idea that by being ''unequally yoked'' they are disobeying the very God they believe in.
Is it possible to have a relationship with someone of differing beliefs? Many would say yes, and just as many would say no. The ones who say no would probably argue hard won experience, quote Bible verses and cite examples of friends whose relationships had failed in part - great or small - to religious differences. And the ones who say yes would most likely fall into two categories. Those who are comfortable enough with their own faith but see no pressing need to share it with others, even those close to them, and those who see their own faith as '''leading the way'' for their partners.
The practicalities are this: Are you okay with possibly compromising on the stories and narratives given to your children? If you're a regular church going are you happy to do this on your own? If talking about ''God'' stuff is important to you, are you happy to NOT do this with your partner? Are the peripherals of what you believe going to be impacted and does it matter? (the moral issues...gambling, alcohol and drugs, celebrations like Halloween, any other issue with a strong Christian line in the sand). Is the fact that a part of your life potentially always going to be separate to your partners? - in this case bear in mind that a/ to them Christianity may well be viewed as a hobby like tramping or cycling or cooking, simply because of their lack of interest or empathy and b/ there's no rule to say a couple has to share everything.
My observation is this: Does God actually care whether you are in a relationship with someone with the same beliefs as you? I think if you believe that God actually has an opinion about this you could argue that yes, He probably does think it would make things a whole lot easier for you if it's something shared. Does He disapprove or forbid these differences? Well, possibly, but refer to the previous comment. I think the issue here is not really about God. There will be a pile of Bible verses to support either side of the argument and justify both positions, if you look hard enough and interpret them to your own ends.
The issue for me is not whether GOD can accept that you might be in a relationship with a ''non-believer'' (eek horrible expression!), but whether YOU can.