The Nontheist Spouse and the Religious Spouse
Many people enter a romantic relationship with a significant other due to an initial basic attraction alone. Further cross-examination of character is ceased due to the assumption that “love conquers all”, that future challenges within the union will be easily resolved. However, during these early stages, two people can discuss significant personal matters with their true selves exposed. This truthful and honest openness results in three different outcomes.
The first is a union with both persons satisfied with one’s another opinions of co-existence; the couple remains together. The second is one (or both) person(s) adequate dissatisfaction of the other’s opinions; the couple separates. The third is one person unhappy with the other but consciously choosing a union despite the known, subsequent long-term disadvantages; the couple remains together.
Logic and ordinary verbal reasoning will rarely have a positive effect in a discussion with a religious spouse. The core of most theisms consists of pure faith without the need for physical proof. Because of this, the religious spouse will automatically tune out your logical side of a discussion. Emotional reasoning thus remains which religious organizations often utilize to unduly exert their influence.
If you wish to debate with a religious spouse who may be receptive to reason, inquire specifically as to what it is about atheism or agnosticism that the spouse finds objectionable. Analyze each detailed objection. If the spouse cannot name specific objections to your atheism or agnosticism, you cannot hold a reasonable debate.
Frequently, a religious spouse demands mutual attendance of a local house of worship. It should be noted that it would be just as reasonable for him or her to attend meetings specifically for atheists or agnostics. If he or she persists, there are other options. You can bargain the use of your time and resources for some other matter while the spouse is at his or her service. Or, you can agree to attend but formulate critical notes pointing out unreasonable aspects of the particular faith. Another kind of compromise might include your participation in a house of worship’s extracurricular needs such as volunteering within the dining hall, assisting bookkeeping, or performing grounds keeping of the area.
A popular subject of spousal debate is the spiritual rearing of children. Generally speaking, the more strictly religious a spouse is, the greater the likelihood that the children will be deeply indoctrinated within that specific theism. Instead of such ideologies having been eradicated centuries ago along with their creators, religious fallacies continue today because of this precise form of indoctrination.
(To be continued next week)