advice from ms lip: i’m religious and he’s not
Dear Ms Lip,
I’m a Christian and my boyfriend is an atheist and we get into fights about it. Not all the time and I know he doesn’t want to upset me, but he does because he says he thinks religion is stupid. I love him and he loves me too but he can’t keep opinions to himself and doesn’t understand my faith is really important to me. I don’t want to break up with him but I wish I could talk to him about it, even if he doesn’t believe in the same things, but he won’t just support me and I feel like I should be able to talk to my boyfriend of all people about my religion. I don’t know what to do.
Dear Confused Christian,
Your boyfriend sounds like a member of the new breed of atheist bigots. Mocking or belittling someone for their beliefs is never okay, but unfortunately it has become a trend. It’s been championed somewhat in mainstream culture, most notably by Richard Dawkins, and people have this idea that it’s okay to rip into Christians. Further, the media presents a very caricatured view of religious people and many unfortunately believe these inaccurate stereotypes. Sadly, it’s pretty much become in vogue to criticise Christians.
At the end of the day, your beliefs are a part of who you are and they are something that you hold dear. Your boyfriend is allowed to laugh at quirks like a tendency to knock over coffee cups or the fact that you still listen to Hanson. But he needs to realise that your faith is not a cute affectation, and he’s belittling it. No way is he allowed to mock your religion.
Sit him down and force him to talk with you about it. It’s very possible that your belief scares him and makes him uncomfortable, especially if he’s never had much exposure to religion or religious people before. Tell him that you don’t expect him to have faith, and you don’t wish for him to “come around” to your beliefs. And if you do, then you probably need to think about whether he’s the right person for you after all, as it doesn’t sound like he’s likely to convert anytime soon. You both have the right to be with people who have the same beliefs as you do if you so choose, but it’s better to find someone who has those beliefs in the first place, rather than try to change someone.
It doesn’t sound like he has a very educated opinion, so give him some literature on faith (NOT the Bible to start with, baby steps!) and tell him how important it is to you that he show more understanding and consideration towards your beliefs. Be open to his questions, and try to communicate openly but respectfully. Because that’s what this is really about: right now, he is not being respectful of your beliefs. If this doesn’t change after you’ve spoken to him and clearly explained that his behaviour is upsetting you, then he’s probably not such a great boyfriend.