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Old 12-29-2011, 08:32 AM
bassman bassman is offline
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Default My Journey from agnostic - atheist

I'm really struggling here. When we got married, 12 years ago, I suppose I was agnostic, and I viewed church folk as harmless, and I thought it was a bit of a social club where you can meet honest people with good values. My wife is very keen, and goes most weekends, and attends a meeting every 2nd Wed night, too.

But over the years I became less interested. Then I played Bass for the church occasionally. One some of those occasions they were really rude to me, treated me like a piece of sh1t actually. I didnt make a scene, but I told them one day - "I am volunteer - I am giving up my time to do this. Now please dont ask me to play ever again". and they didnt,!

Ok, I didnt stop my wife going..

My boy was about 1 at that stage. Then I lost my job, and I was picking up contract work here and there. Things were bad financially. Soon we were paying the mortgage using the credit card, and things got worse and worse.

During that year, I made a measly 17 000 - (USD 34 000). We had credit cards with debt of 10 000 plus on !

Then I got a reasonably paid permanent job, and I sat down and devised a plan to get us out of the debt. I realised that I was paying all the bills, and that without my wifes money (She'd gone back to work at this stage), we'd be stuck in debt. She was reluctant to help me pay the bills - I remember one day specifically asking her to help me buy 1 tin of paint for the house, and she refused !!

Ok, I dont mind giving - we were (and still are) sponsoring a child in Africa, we were sending money to another family in Africa too, and she was sending bits and bobs to other (good) causes here and there. No doubt the church was getting money, too, but I didnt know how much at that stage. I was getting a bit frustrated now with this church business. One time I went there with her, and I was flabbergasted to see a NEW, huge Mercedes truck and trailer, emblazoned with their logo and all on it. I thought "bloody hell, what does THAT cost, and why are they spending our money on that?" - it was a fully equipped mobile stage so they can go round and spread the word, you know?

Now, she was sending money to these goons, and refusing to help me maintain the house????? Something was wrong, surely???

I thought "surely the church would be reasonable, and advise us to get out of debt, before sending them money?" right? So, I met a woman in the congregation, calling herself a "financial advisor", and I asked her to look at our family finances. (It turns out she was just an insurance seller, but had glamourised her title to "financial advisor").
Well, I sat through a few hours of the WORST financial advice Ive ever heard, and then it materialised that my wife was sending 10% of her salary to the church, and this muppet said this was the "Scripturally correct thing to do".

Wait - 10 percent???? 300 / month? ($600). Yep. While we're in 10K debt??? -- Yep. (They call it a "tithe" - the bible has a story about how the farmers would donate 10% of their crop to the local village. No-one can explain to me how THAT story equeates to me having to send 10% of my earnings to an affluent pastor!! ????)

So I looked up what I could, to find out about the leaders of this church. Would you like to guess how much their property portfolio is worth? $500 000 maybe? nope - $1 000 000? - nope, $10 000 000? - er, no, keep going - $50 000 000???? - err no way !! MORE!
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Brian and Booby Houston, hillsong church, value of property portfolio.... $100 000 000 ---- Yes, ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS worth of property!! And *I* am sending *THEM* money???? wtf?

I was MAD! We were in debt, have no plan for retirement, no plan for my boy's education, and yet these b*stards had talked my wife into this tithe (sic) nonsense? (What hurt the most that those funds were being diverted away from my son's future).
I mulled it over for a few days, and then I let my wife know that if she doesnt stop sending our money to those twats, I was going to leave and file for divorce.

I asked if our other donations count towards this 10% (sic) rule, and no, they dont !! so we agreed instead to send money to my needy Aunt, and to start a savings acc to help my boy in the future. After about 3 years of this arrangement, she has finally agreed to stop, and put money into sharing our living expenses.

She was defiant and would not see my point of view on the finances. Eventually she went for counselling, and eventually agreed that our debt, our expenses, and our son's future were the priorities.


Meantime I thought and thought about the whole god thing, and I discovered Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchins, with Dawkins (The god delusion) helping me see it was all based on legend, myth, and not a scrap of evidence anywhere. I became atheist there and then.

My wife still attends, but I dont think shes let on to anyone that she's not paying anymore. By hosting the Wed night thing (I stay out of sight!), she is doing her bit to help the church.
(I'd rather see the back of them forever, but I need to let her decide that. If I push, she will probably choose them over me and my boy, as usual)
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:03 AM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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She seriously needs to find a different church!!! Yeah, I know, not bloody likely.

About 7 years ago, I started my struggle with my faith in God. I have since found what I will call my foundation and am re-building everything else from scratch. I grew up "Evangelical, born-again Christian" and for me about 99% of it is a lot of man made bull shit.

The pastor I had during my high school years played a significant part in me being able to finally see all the bs. One of his big pushes, was that he was just a man, giving his version of what he read and studied and he could be wrong. He encouraged us to study and look into on our own. After that, I never did put up with arogant, high and mighty preachers.

I no longer attend "church", but I do still have my faith. I no longer call my self a "Christian" because I don't want to be associated with "religion" for so many reasons. My mother sees my (and my brother) as lost souls because we don't subscribe to ALL of her beliefs... so be it.

I have been to "Christian" counceling and have gotten very different advice and had different experiences than what you faced. However, what you faced is not all that uncommon in some of the more militant churches, which even before my "crisis in faith" I stayed well away from.

My advice is for you to interview a few Christian marriage/family councelors, that are not in anyway affiliated with your wife's church. If you find one that doesn't creep you out or piss you off, try going to that one with your wife - knowing people like your wife, the title of "Christian" holds more weight and she won't be as ready to dismiss what they have to say.

A couple verses that I have used, both for myself and to stop others (mainly my mother) in their tracks are Matthew 22:37-40 and Romans 14.
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:17 AM
bassman bassman is offline
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Thanks for all that.

I am not interested in any advice from anyone calling themselves christian , i'm afraid, and I think she knows it. They have shown themselves to me, to be willing to completely override my family's well being, and be puppets for the good of the pastor.

There is a glimmer of hope.
My wife is a geologist, and she recently came around to the idea of evolution , and yes, human evolution. In fact, we sat together and went through the slides (100 of them) from a human evolution course I attended, and she was reasonably interested. The topic of creation, Adam and Eve, and the Ark never came up. She read the slides and even commented to help me understand some of the terms.

So I'm kind of hoping she is thinking "Ok, the church was wrong about the finances, they are wrong on the creation, Noahs ark, and Adam and Eve. I wonder what else they are lying about?"

Its a long shot, I know, but I hope this might just be the start of her coming around.

I dont want to run her down too much, she is a people pleaser, she loves people, (its one of the things I love about her) as I do, but she takes everything everyone says as honest, whereas I am sceptical most of the time.

So I live in hope, and I am waiting, waiting, waiting.... all the time I distance myself more and more from the church. Thank goodness she doesnt insist on my boy attending. He is 7 now, and every Sunday we give him the choice - "Would you like to go to kid's church with mom, or stay home with Daddy", and he almost always chooses to stay with me.

I have a lil sailboat, and in Winter (now), the club only opens Sunday, so my sailing has taken a back seat (He is too small for Sailing). But I dont care, I stay home with him - I dont want him NEAR the place !
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:21 AM
bassman bassman is offline
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Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post


My advice is for you to interview a few Christian marriage/family councelors, that are not in anyway affiliated with your wife's church. If you find one that doesn't creep you out or piss you off, try going to that one with your wife - knowing people like your wife, the title of "Christian" holds more weight and she won't be as ready to dismiss what they have to say.
A while ago, we did try counselling, to try and discuss this church thing - (NOT through the church) its a bit of a long story, but our counsellor showed her lack of interest by neglecting to turn up at our last appointment - I lost interest at that point. :-(
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:22 AM
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I have a good mind to write to the catholic church and ask them for my foreskin back now. What the F*CK are they doing, mutilating children's genitals???
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:55 AM
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I am not interested in any advice from anyone calling themselves christian , i'm afraid, and I think she knows it. They have shown themselves to me, to be willing to completely override my family's well being, and be puppets for the good of the pastor.
Not all Christian's are like those from your wife's church. Unfortunately, it's those like at your wife's church that have me not wanting to identify as Christian either. Your anger is understandable and is very like my brother's against the "church" in general (he had other issues). He blames the church for the destruction of his marriage and I won't argue that it likely played a significant part.

Quote:
My wife is a geologist, and she recently came around to the idea of evolution , and yes, human evolution. In fact, we sat together and went through the slides (100 of them) from a human evolution course I attended, and she was reasonably interested. The topic of creation, Adam and Eve, and the Ark never came up. She read the slides and even commented to help me understand some of the terms.
Never have been able to understand the arguement against evolution. To me science doesn't prove God doesn't exist or isn't the creator, just proves the bible isn't this magically "divine" thing. It was writen by men and encompases all man's narrow minded finite views of life. To me to say evolution is impossible puts human limits on what God can do. Just compare Genesis 1 vs Genesis 2.

Quote:
So I'm kind of hoping she is thinking "Ok, the church was wrong about the finances, they are wrong on the creation, Noahs ark, and Adam and Eve. I wonder what else they are lying about?"
Don't get me started.

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I dont want to run her down too much, she is a people pleaser, she loves people, (its one of the things I love about her) as I do, but she takes everything everyone says as honest, whereas I am sceptical most of the time.
Don't try and poke holes in her basic faith in God, but in the churches interpretation of what God says, wants or is. Attacking HER faith will only keep the walls up and the fighting gloves on, instead encourage her to do her own research with sources outside her church/denomination.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:13 PM
bassman bassman is offline
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Don't try and poke holes in her basic faith in God, but in the churches interpretation of what God says, wants or is. Attacking HER faith will only keep the walls up and the fighting gloves on, instead encourage her to do her own research with sources outside her church/denomination.
I am trying to encourage her rather than attack. I am sitting back and waiting, but I hope to get her on the same human evolution course I attended in Africa (at the Cradle of Humankind, a site loaded with fossils), to encourage that avenue.

I'm sorry there's no ploy content here, folks, but I see this forum as a brilliant source for relationships and their issues, and its helped me greatly.

Heck, if I could afford it, I'd get RedPepper over here to mediate a religious discussion between my wife and I !
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:52 AM
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I am pretty "out" in my atheism. I have had a lot of conversations about religion from people of all beliefs. I also hate the tithing system. It seems to hurt so many people who really can't afford it.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christian churches are preaching "prosperity" gospel. The idea is if you give a lot of money to the Church, God will reward you with even more money. Of course, it doesn't work out and people who are having a hard financial crisis are worse off. I did find a good article on how well the churches are making out and how hypocritical they are being with this prosperity gospel. The article is focused on the question on whether the church should be taxed like any other business or not.

I have found that becoming less fundamental is a slow process. I would suggest friendly conversations with your wife, but don't be afraid to bring up some tough issues.

For example, I was talking to a neighbor about gay marriage. He said that he wanted to follow a Biblical definition of marriage. So I started to quote all the other Biblical marriage laws like forcing a raped woman to marry her rapist or killing non-virgin brides in front of her parents.

Most religious stories and rules have very bad logical outcomes if you think about them fully. One example came from a Catholic friend. In school, he was told by a nun that a remarried man is committing adultery if the first wife is still alive. If the man dies in this state, he goes to hell because he is in a constant state of sin. He could ask for forgiveness, but because he is still remarried, he is instantly in a state of sin again. So my friend asked, "If the man kills his wife, he can ask forgiveness and go to heaven." The nun admitted that it would work, but said it shouldn't be done. (Dogma says one thing, but most people tend to go with values they were brought up with instead.)

I would suggest going to some atheist blogs. Lots of people deal with this stuff. My two favorites are Daylight Atheism and Pharyngula.

From the people who have converted from theism to atheism, most have done so from getting more education. The "God Delusion" is a good book for people on the fence. However, it may help those who are becoming less dogmatic.
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Old 12-31-2011, 02:54 PM
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Ugh, those mega churches! We have a lot of them in the US. Ted Haggard led one and was found to be canoodling with a male prostitute. That was a fun news story. There are others...

I see them as big entertainment packages, with the flashing lights, applauding dancing crowds on their feet, and loud insistent music of a rock concert. I understand some churches even pass out glow sticks now! All they need is some Ecstasy and it would be a rave.

I've got nothing against entertainment and rock and roll. I've got nothing against having a "community" of like minded individuals to do things with. I draw the line at the pastors taking money from lower income, not well educated congregations, and spending much of the millions on large homes, fleets of fancy cars and generally affluent lifestyles.

I'm glad you've made the effort to at least stop the siphoning away of your hard earned and much needed pounds towards this tacky church.

And cognitive dissonance is the only explanation for an educated scientist like your wife to ascribe to fundie beliefs. It's really crazy, the knots people tie themselves up in to continue believing in magic... even Jews know most of their book (the Old Testament) is myth and psychology and ancient politics.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:29 PM
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... even Jews know most of their book (the Old Testament) is myth and psychology and ancient politics.
Yet to even suggest such a thing to a "fundamentalist" will have you labled as blasphamous. . That was an interesting conversation with my mother.
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