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Unequally-Yoked Church Attendance and COVID-19


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Sunday morning seems like a good time to bring this up...

 

A fair number of us - myself included - still go to church, either willingly or reluctantly, with Christian spouses.  Obviously COVID-19 has thrown a lot of practices up in the air, churchgoing included.  If you’re one of those Unequally-Yoked churchgoers, did you stop going at some point this year?  Have you resumed?  Are you OK with going back or are you taking this opportunity to put an end to your church attendance once and for all?  

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"I can't even imagine"

 

The last church experience for me was a Russian Pentecostal funeral for a very sweet and kind lady, and the two families we used to hang with to help them with English. Hours long, but not too horrible. Balanced by seeing them again, and how much the kids had grown into fine adults. I wouldn't tolerate being subjected to preaching each week or more often, but then again I have no reason to be there. We've been invited to family holiday gatherings, but even those would be tense for a couple of them who see us as enemies of the cross, so we don't go. 

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Hey TABA - we are unequally yoked and have stopped attending since mid March.  I won't lie - it's been amazing.  Sundays are so restful, peaceful, and enjoyable.  I really dont think my wife misses it at all - but she'd never say so.

 

I have no idea what will happen when things start to improve with covid.  I would be a good sport and go back with her - but I'm hoping we never return...

 

How about you?

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16 hours ago, Insightful said:

Hey TABA - we are unequally yoked and have stopped attending since mid March.  I won't lie - it's been amazing.  Sundays are so restful, peaceful, and enjoyable.  I really dont think my wife misses it at all - but she'd never say so.

 

I have no idea what will happen when things start to improve with covid.  I would be a good sport and go back with her - but I'm hoping we never return...

 

How about you?

 

Hey Insightful, I’m glad your Sundays are so nice these days: here’s hoping for the best, long term!

 

We haven’t been to church since the first week of March either.  Kinda nice to have had five months absolutely religion-free!  My Sundays got a lot better about five years ago, when we stopped attending at our Church of Christ and started going to Saturday evening Mass at a beautiful church where my wife often went as a child.  I was in the process of deconverting, mostly unknown to her at the time, and this was the perfect escape for me from the fundamentalist environment in exchange for a setting where I could be anonymous.  And one hour in a beautiful basilica before going on to dinner on Saturday evening was far better for me than the long Sunday mornings that had become more and more discordant for me.  Ever since then my Sundays have became pretty much as blissful as you describe yours: after a relaxed coffee on the back porch (or in front of the fire in colder times) I very often go for a hike in the woods nearby.  Being out in nature uplifts my “soul” in a way that church could never quite do, even at its best!

 

Before March, we had been going to church more-or-less regularly; we skipped a fair number of times.  Now I believe they’re back holding services with distancing, etc.  My wife is very cautious about the virus so it’s unlikely she’ll be inclined to return anytime soon.  And that’s just fine with me... I’d be OK just going once or twice a year around Christmas, when the church is beautifully decorated.

 

What kind church does your wife go to, by the way?

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On 8/9/2020 at 7:44 AM, TABA said:

Sunday morning seems like a good time to bring this up...

 

A fair number of us - myself included - still go to church, either willingly or reluctantly, with Christian spouses.  Obviously COVID-19 has thrown a lot of practices up in the air, churchgoing included.  If you’re one of those Unequally-Yoked churchgoers, did you stop going at some point this year?  Have you resumed?  Are you OK with going back or are you taking this opportunity to put an end to your church attendance once and for all?  

 

It's really ironic. A lot of Churches of Christ started doing some sort of online thing. Some would have just a few people go down to the building, and they'd go through all of the motions with some sort of streaming. People would buy their own matzoh bread and grape juice and do the Lord's Supper at the appropriate time, and send in their contribution via PayPal.

 

My wife has various health issues, and so she misses most Sunday mornings, but will often make it on Sunday night. (In the CoC you have two Sunday services, with the Lord's Supper served in the evening for anyone who couldn't be there in the morning.) But a lot of Sundays she didn't make either service.

 

Yet with this streaming, she's wanted to do church almost every Sunday since the lockdown! If she isn't up early enough to watch "our" church, she watches the West Coast church where our son preaches, at 1:00 PM in our time zone.

The church we go to started back in-person + streaming a couple of months ago. They tell people who have health issues not to go. The people doing in-person are not wearing masks and there are far too many people there to maintain and sort of spacing. A couple of weeks ago they finally reserved some space for people who don't want to be near the non-mask wearing libertarians, and they called people and encouraged them to go back. They did manage to get the attendance up some.

 

But we've gone now, 3 of the last 4 weeks. to a church where they have every other row blocked off and they're requiring masks. She hadn't made it 3 out of 4 Sundays in a row in several years, but now she's really trying to do it. I was really hoping we'd just withdraw our membership from that other church and never get around to going anywhere else on a regular basis. No such luck. *sigh*

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On 8/10/2020 at 12:00 PM, TABA said:

What kind church does your wife go to, by the way?

 

Hey TABA -

I totally hear you about being at a church where you can be anonymous while deconstructing - that was super helpful in my case.  We attend an Evangelical Free Church - which is basically baptist with a band and a coffee shop.  Even though it's less ideal than the mass you describe, at least it large and we can just drop in and then take off...  I'm glad that "no church attendance" has been a silver lining to the pandemic for both of us.  😃

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On 8/12/2020 at 6:43 PM, Lerk said:

I was really hoping we'd just withdraw our membership from that other church and never get around to going anywhere else on a regular basis. No such luck. *sigh*


That sucks, for sure.  Does your wife understand or care that you don’t want to go?  To what extent are you still in the closet as an unbeliever?

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On 8/16/2020 at 9:29 AM, TABA said:


That sucks, for sure.  Does your wife understand or care that you don’t want to go?  To what extent are you still in the closet as an unbeliever?

 

We had that discussion yesterday. The thing I really hate (and that I explained to her) is going by myself. As long as we're in the same denomination (that calls itself non-denominational) we have connections that might result in unwanted feedback if I were to just drop out. Social/societal pressure stinks.

 

I really hate going into a crowded church building. (Or crowded any other kind of place, for that matter.) For a number of years after the kids left I actually didn't mind too much going to church because I would just sit in an inconspicuous spot and read books on my phone. But then the place we were members at got really crowded.

 

So... who am I concerned about? I have one son who is an atheist and another who is a CoC preacher. They had a rough spell in their relationship but seem to be okay now. But I had some tentative conversations with preacher-son about 4 years ago and wound up with a don't-ask-don't-tell status.

 

The only other concern I have is my wife's sister, and not for my sake, but just because it freaks my wife out thinking about it.

 

My wife is afraid she won't be able to make friends at a new church so she's reluctant to leave the current one. But she seldom does anything with these people anyway, so I don't see that it'll make any difference in her life. There's no reason she couldn't make friends at a new church, anyway, she just has zero self-confidence and tons of fear.

 

If I were to withdraw my membership and she were to stay, it'd embarrass her like crazy. But maybe she'd get sympathy and a bit of attention for awhile, rather than feeling lonely!

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Worrying about what the other kids might think should end after high school. Being true to yourself and letting the chips fall is magnitudes better than maintaining some odious role that is expected of you. We are responsible only for that which we do, not what others do, think or react to.

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1 hour ago, florduh said:

Worrying about what the other kids might think should end after high school. Being true to yourself and letting the chips fall is magnitudes better than maintaining some odious role that is expected of you. We are responsible only for that which we do, not what others do, think or react to.

 

Yes, but there's also something to be said for supporting your partner, and making sure your family doesn't fall apart.

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2 hours ago, Lerk said:

 

My wife is afraid she won't be able to make friends at a new church so she's reluctant to leave the current one. But she seldom does anything with these people anyway, so I don't see that it'll make any difference in her life. There's no reason she couldn't make friends at a new church, anyway


The only time we see any of our friends from the Church of Christ is if we bump into them somewhere.  We rarely socialized with any of them.  Many of our friends now are people we met through work.  
 

I’m sure she would make new friends at a different church.  Church of Christ congregations are very big on fellowship, as you know.  It seems like going to a different church, where you wouldn’t have to keep up the pretense of being a believer, would be a solution that would work for her and also make your life better.  I think if I were in your place, I’d press for that solution.  You deserve your position to be respected that much.  

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1 hour ago, disillusioned said:

Yes, but there's also something to be said for supporting your partner, and making sure your family doesn't fall apart.

 

Yes, but I like to make the analogy:  What if your family/partner joined the Nazi Party/Scientology/Other Endeavor Odious To You? How much and how long would you lie about your own beliefs and thus validate theirs just to keep the peace?

 

That is the principle to be considered here. Living a lie and keeping the "peace" at all cost is a temporary measure and no solution to the problem. A relationship where one person must forfeit his own identity and honesty is one hardly one worth having.

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44 minutes ago, florduh said:

A relationship where one person must forfeit his own identity and honesty is one hardly one worth having.

In theory this is true. The reality is there are many compromises in life. For some, the inability to be authentic is a deal-breaker. For others, the path of least resistance is the path to peace.

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Sometimes it is a very hard decision.  But if doing what you don't want to do creates underlying resentment, that can contribute to other problems.  If there is underlying anxiety, it may even effect your health.

  

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On 8/17/2020 at 2:37 PM, florduh said:

Worrying about what the other kids might think should end after high school. Being true to yourself and letting the chips fall is magnitudes better than maintaining some odious role that is expected of you. We are responsible only for that which we do, not what others do, think or react to.

I'm not so sure. Seems like not worrying about what "the other kids" (i.e. the people in your life) think might be a sign of a sociopath.

 

I did get good at saying "no" when I was still a believer. "No, I don't teach Bible class." Being halfway in and halfway out of the closet has allowed me to completely quit participating in the assembly. Sorry (not sorry), I'm not leading singing. My wife is embarrassed just anticipating that someone may ask her why I don't participate, because that's the way we've lived our lives. How do I decide what to do in my life? Well, what would people expect of me? There's my answer! I had no clue that there was any other way to decide, like asking what I myself preferred.

 

But I think there is a balance to be had. We have to get along in society, we have to do our part. The problem here is that this is a society and culture that I really want nothing to do with. I just happen to have been born into it.

 

So, I do care what other people think to some extent, but not as much as i used to. It's true that I wasn't taught anything about balance, so I'm really having to work that out. I may not live long enough to really get it figured out.

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     My hunch is that fiorduh wanted to say to NOT BE DEPENDENT on other people, not being totally indifferent to them.

       Things are complex of course.

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It's a good thing I did not marry a believer.  I would not have attended church with her.  I go to church for weddings, funerals, and the odd christening. 

 

Also, I would have actively undermined any attempt by my wife or in-laws to indoctrinate my children.

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In regards to the "keeping the peace" topic.

 

As many of you know I am the self appointed VP of the unequally yoked club. I have come out to the fams and do NOT attend church. I remain silent during family prayers and dot say ah 'men or whateverthehell one is obligated to say. Mrs. MOHO sends me Biblical shit a few times a week I which summarily ignore and resist the urge to reply with logic/reason/atheist blurb etc as there is no reason to go there.

 

However, if she tried to "persuade" me to attend services via anything other than a simple and occasional invitation, or if there was any real pressure whatsoever from any of the fams to reconvert, or if any of them was even the slightest bit cold to me because of my lack of belief, they would be excommunicated from my life and I would move out and file for divorce.

 

Keeping the peace is anything but when the effort is more than simple courtesy.

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On 8/17/2020 at 6:51 PM, florduh said:

 

Yes, but I like to make the analogy:  What if your family/partner joined the Nazi Party/Scientology/Other Endeavor Odious To You? How much and how long would you lie about your own beliefs and thus validate theirs just to keep the peace?

 

That is the principle to be considered here. Living a lie and keeping the "peace" at all cost is a temporary measure and no solution to the problem. A relationship where one person must forfeit his own identity and honesty is one hardly one worth having.

 

I see what you are saying, but I'm not much for absolute principles.

 

I think there are things that you can live with, and there are things that you can't. My wife being a nazi would be something I couldn't live with. Cue divorce proceedings. But if she started attending church, I'd probably just look the other way. Every relationship includes compromise, and I don't want to break up my family. Fortunately, I do not have to worry about this.

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On 8/21/2020 at 1:01 PM, MOHO said:

In regards to the "keeping the peace" topic.

 

As many of you know I am the self appointed VP of the unequally yoked club. I have come out to the fams and do NOT attend church. I remain silent during family prayers and dot say ah 'men or whateverthehell one is obligated to say. Mrs. MOHO sends me Biblical shit a few times a week I which summarily ignore and resist the urge to reply with logic/reason/atheist blurb etc as there is no reason to go there.

 

However, if she tried to "persuade" me to attend services via anything other than a simple and occasional invitation, or if there was any real pressure whatsoever from any of the fams to reconvert, or if any of them was even the slightest bit cold to me because of my lack of belief, they would be excommunicated from my life and I would move out and file for divorce.

 

Keeping the peace is anything but when the effort is more than simple courtesy.

 

I actually go with her, yet every once in a while she can't seem to help expressing her dismay that I'm a non-believer. We had a nice little argument the other night. I will not bring it up, but if she's going to go on the offensive I'm going to 1) defend myself and 2) turn it around on her. She stated that nearly everyone in the world believes in gods and accused me and our atheist son of thinking we're smarter than the majority. I asked, then, whether she thought she was smarter than the people who believed in the "wrong" gods or in people like me who didn't think there were any such things as gods. The fact that I don't find her arguments convincing doesn't make me arrogant.

 

I finished by telling her I didn't think she really believed it, either. This started when she asked me, yet again, why she personally had so many more physical problems than other people. Apparently, I was supposed to answer "I'm sorry, honey. It really isn't fair." I've answered that way a million times, but in the last few years I've been more likely to say more simply that there's no good answer. She's asking me for an answer! If she just wants sympathy, she shouldn't ask "why."

 

But she has doubts -- big ones. When she's trying to convince me she'll talk about "our perfect grandchildren". Yes, they're healthy, but what about the grandchild of one of the elders of our church, a 3 year old who is dying of a cancer they've been fighting for more than half of his life, and whose parents are doing everything they can to keep him alive just one more day? Oh, the answer of course is the Garden of Eden. So I ask how that worked... did the god deliberately take his perfect creation and force things to go wrong with it? Or is Satan a god, that was able to screw up our DNA and cause bacteria and viruses to attack us? No answer, of course.

 

Then it turned to "what if" (our preacher son) asks me whether I believe or not. (He and I have a don't-ask-don't-tell relationship of sorts.) I told her I didn't think he'd ask because he doesn't want to know, but that I wouldn't lie to him. Her biggest fear, greater than any other fear, is that he'll cut us out of his life. But he hasn't cut his brother out, even though he knows perfectly well he's an atheist.

 

As florduh told me earlier, it's time to just tell him and not have to deal with this shit anymore.

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