When I first told my friends I was dating an actual Christian, they were all uppity about it: “Well, you have to respect someone’s religious views.” But when I mentioned he was abstaining from bedroom business for devout reasons, all of a sudden he was a total weirdo in their eyes (I’m patting myself on the back right now for being so open-minded). At first, it was a refreshing — almost romantic! — change from the norm, which usually involves the guy trying to seal that deal as soon as possible. But slowly, a feeling of insecurity started creeping over me:
Do I have a double chin?
Is he gay?
Am I really dating a 40-year-old virgin?
I know this all sounds rather hopeless, but the thing is, I love him. We can talk for hours about anything. He is funny and kind. He speaks better French than I do and lets me win at Scrabble. He is a great kisser, a great conversationalist — he even writes me poems. He watched Twilight with me sans complaint and gets what I see in Edward. He is communicative and sensitive (ladies, isn’t this what we want?) and treats me like I’m something sacred. He would be a loving, patient father and says he will work hard for the rest of his life so that I can live like a princess.
Some days, when we ignore the elephant in the room, I think, wow, this is it. But then, somehow, his Christianity will snake back into our relationship, resulting in heated, teary discussions about how we’d raise children. He wants to take them to church every Sunday to “help them understand the love of God.” I tell him I don’t want our children to be brainwashed and if he takes them to church one Sunday, he has to take them to a mosque the next weekend, and then to a temple, etc. — to expose them to all the world’s religions so they can decide for themselves what they believe in, if anything at all.
Sometimes it just feels like we’re on different plains of existence. [Note: ‘Plains’? Don’t they do copy editing at the Atlantic before posting this stuff? — RD]
Don’t do it, girl. Don’t marry this guy. Religion is a deal-breaker. I don’t doubt that you both love each other, but this is not going to be happy for both of you. When you talk in this essay about arguing over how to raise the kids, that right there is the biggest signal to you that this is a risky, risky business. Break it off now. You’ll break two hearts in so doing, but you’ll save both of you (and possibly children) even worse heartbreak down the road. If he were a casual Christian, that might be one thing. But he isn’t, and you aren’t interested in converting.
(That’s my advice to her. What would you advise, and why?)