Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Interfaith Relationships

This was the initial religion post I was going to write but became sidetracked with my story here.

When my current SO and I met, he told me there were three things I needed to know about him, one of them being he was a Christian. I felt OK with it of course, and actually thought it to be a good thing. We could do things like study the Bible and go to church and help me gain a better understanding of what I did or did not believe. I just had to be sure he wasn't someone who would constantly proselytize about hell. 

As I got to know him one of the things I really grew to appreciate was his love of deep conversation and books. We would have long conversations about religion, philosophy and experiences and it was done in such a non judgmental way and I felt at ease. I found someone I could truly talk to and be open with. I was able to open up to him in ways I had never been able to with anyone in the past.

He has done research on the different major branches of religion and even dabbled in a few. He was raised Christian, but always sought to truly understand what he was taught to believe and why. When I became pregnant, he began studying the Bible even more. He read it every night and would listen to it on his way to and from work. Then one day he came home and said "I think I'm going to become a Jew".

He went through all of his reasons why, based on what he had been reading in the Bible. He wanted to follow the laws set down in the Old Testament and live a different lifestyle. He wanted our son to be raised Jewish as well; go to Hebrew school and be raised going to a temple. I was OK with him wanting to identify with a different religion but I wasn't sure how I felt about our son being raised apart of this faith since I was not a part of it and did not have much knowledge or understanding about it.

Since he is more knowledgeable about the Bible, and religion in general, it was difficult to argue or debate the issue. I really don't profess to be Christian but at the same time I didn't feel comfortable agreeing to raise my son any different. It was what I was most familiar with. Also, how could I raise my son to be part of a faith that I am not a part of? How could I answer his questions and teach him history if I don't know any myself? 

My SO wanted me to become immersed in it as well. No Christmas, Halloween or Easter. He wanted to observe the Sabbath and wanted me to dress differently. I felt as if I was going through what I went through with my last boyfriend all over again.

The difference here was, he was open about discussion and would explain to me why he believed in what he did. When he would go to temple or have discussions with his Jewish friends and coworkers, he would talk to me about what they talked about but he wasn't preaching. He didn't and still doesn't make me feel as if I'm going to burn in hell for not believing in what he does. He wanted to hear my feedback, concerns and doubts and discuss them and I appreciate that.

The thing I'm still grappling with is how our son will be raised. He was never baptized and I have not taken him to church. He has never been to temple either because I haven't agreed to go. It seems as if he is not being raised apart of any faith because we can't decide how were are going to raise him in a way that makes us both happy. 

I know my son is still young, but in a few years he's going to want to know about God and I don't know how we're going to discuss that.

If he does go to temple with his father and I don't, I'm sure he's going to want to know why I don't believe in what his father does and why I dress and look different than the women at temple. Why my family celebrates Christmas and not Hanukkah or why I don't observe the Sabbath. Why his father feels so strongly about him not going to a church.

If I would have known in advance this was going to be an interfaith relationship, we may have been better prepared for children but this came about toward the end of my pregnancy without me knowing how to deal. Has anyone else experienced this? How did you decide to raise your children?