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Source: (consider it) Thread: Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians
Zoey

Broken idealist
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Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

* Are they sinful?

* Are they unwise?

* Does it make any difference whether the non-Christian is an adherent of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist?

Until the end of 2017, all of my dating history (from one-off dates which went nowhere to my longest romantic relationship of 3+ years) was with people who self-identified as Christian and placed some degree of significance on this.

I have now met up a couple of times with a guy who defines himself as being technically agnostic - because it’s logically impossible to prove a negative - but who considers there to be no evidence supporting the existence of God. On matters other than religion, we appear to be quite a good match.

I looked up on a self-defined fundamentalist website the arguments against Christian + non-Christian partnerships and got directed to 1 Corinthians 7 v39 and more importantly 2 Corinthians 6 v14-18. I sat down to read 2 Corinthians 6 v14-18. Without trying to be a smart-arse, my strongest response on reading this passage was to the question: “what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” – erm, quite a lot actually, they can agree on the undesirability of poverty, injustice and inequality, the need for these ills to be addressed as fully as possible, the ultimate unknowability as to whether or not God exists, and so on.

I would love it if I were able to conclude that my internal opposition to romantic relationships with non-Christians is a stupid leftover from my evangelical childhood which I can dump without any problem (as I have done the fear that large swathes of humanity will go to a hell of eternal, conscious suffering and the suggestion that gay people should be permanently celibate just because they are attracted to people of the same sex). However, I am seriously worried that it’s not, that even non-evangelical Christians are called to be set apart and holy, etc, that being in a romantic relationship with an agnostic or atheist would be a bad choice which God does not want me to make.

Thoughts?

(Re: the third of my opening questions: Until a few weeks ago, I thought that a romantic relationship with an adherent of another religion would probably be preferable to a romantic relationship with an atheist / non-believer, because there would be the shared sense of God and religious beliefs being important, even if one's partner's beliefs sometimes differed substantially from one’s own. Now I’m not so sure.)

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lilBuddha
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tl;dr: If you think your mate being Christian matters, then it does.
The longer version:
It would depend on what subsect of Christian you are and what you truly believe is important.
Mentalfundalists and atheists would seem obviously immiscible. The further you go from those poles, the more possible the mix.
Re your bible verses, what does 'belong to the Lord' mean to you?
And as far as Corinthians 6 v14-18, do you truly believe things as so black and white? Jesus didn't seem to.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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I would say that some of it depends upon whether or not you plan to have children, and if you want to bring up said offspring in your religion. I married an outspoken atheist (ex-Roman Catholic) who said he would support my bringing up the children in the Episcopal Church.

In fact, he used to mock my faith and, I think, undermined it in our children. The amusing part is that, after I divorced him, he returned to Holy Mother Church - and to the Latin Mass segment, too. (He's a big fan of Raymond Burke's.) Oh, and he no longer believes in divorce.

Obviously, many folks' mileage will vary; my own father was unchurched when he married my mother, and came to have a strong faith. But you have a lot to consider, I think.

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Cathscats
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You say you have met up with this man a couple of times. It seem a bit early in the relationship to be planning a forever future. I note that you don't claim to have fallen irredeemably in love with him - yet. Maybe you should just get to know each other and, when the time is right, talk about this together. For what it is worth, I don't think that there is only one answer to your question which will be true for all Christians, and proof-texting won't make it so. I do believe God wants us all to have life in all it fullness, which means different things for different people.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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It's a bit of a journey, this life. No hasty decisions IMHO, either for or against. Does this man seem kind? decent? caring? Might he be acting in ways which seem Christian without being?

Realizing that people often check out used cars with more care than they do people they date.

Might it be unfair to judge someone by who they are today, and not on who they might become?

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Galilit
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Speaking as a Christian (Liberation theologian Guardian Reading loony feminist stereotype) who has spent the last 33 years in Israel-Palestine with a secular Jewish Israeli kibbutznik... and we have 3 now-grown children ...

First of all you have to realise it is not just about you - or you two.

What about both of your extended families and communities? Not to mention the Country-in-General ie people you don't know personally but who live in your region or nation and when they see you they feel they must comment.
Believe me they can be HORRIBLE to you. Even or especially the so-called liberals
As can the law or the religious authorities. For example maybe you will not be permitted a wedding (like wot everyone else has)

I think the main thing is to have a shared vision of the future which is already a really central part of each of your lives (as a person, as a couple/family and for the Whole World). If you have only "love" (ie no revolutionary dimension whether that be political or religious or both) you will be SUNK in a short time

If your vision and praxis are pretty similar then the "source" of it eg different religious positions does not affect the relationship. You are working hard for the same things; linking arms and striding forward together into your shared vision of the future

[ 25. February 2018, 19:33: Message edited by: Galilit ]

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Zoey

Broken idealist
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quote:
Originally posted by Cathscats:
You say you have met up with this man a couple of times. It seem a bit early in the relationship to be planning a forever future.

"A couple" in this instance may mean more than exactly 2. More importantly, he seems relatively interested in me (more so than 80%+ of people in my dating history). While I take the point that the early potential in our acquaintance might fizzle out anyway, I am very much of the view that it is unfair on him for us to continue getting to know each other with him believing this might lead to a romantic relationship if actually from my point of view that isn't / cannot be on the cards.

quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Might it be unfair to judge someone by who they are today, and not on who they might become?

I've heard general counsel against going into romantic relationships with the hope one can change one's partner. Moreover, it seems disrespectful to who a person is and their autonomy to go into a romantic relationship with the express desire of changing their religious beliefs.

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Schroedinger's cat

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I think it is important to share a sense of spiritual openness. I don't think it is helpful when one partner has a radically different take on spirituality than the other, because this stuff is important, and so it will cause tensions in the relationship if there are differences.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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Sorry, not what I meant. I meant that if he is a kind, decent and caring person, and a relationship seems to work, the two of you both grow and are expanded by the relationship. You will find yourself changed as well. I view the refusal to allow oneself to be changed in a relationship as a pitfall for sure. This is entirely different than wanting to change someone else, rather your openness to change in yourself.

[ 25. February 2018, 20:11: Message edited by: no prophet's flag is set so... ]

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Zoey:
Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

How does the non-Christian feel about your faith? Is he supportive, even though he doesn't share it? Will he be so understanding when it prevents him from doing something he wants to do?

We have friends at Church who are a committed Christian woman and an atheist husband. The wife brings the children to church; they sing in the children's choirs, serve as acolytes, attend Sunday School and all the rest of it. But the one Sunday a month we don't have Sunday school, they're never there, because Dad puts his foot down and wants to have "family time". That's a compromise they've reached, which means the kids miss out on some things, but no compromise is perfect. It works for them, although the wife admits that she would prefer to be in church every week.

The atheist husband in this case, who I know somewhat, but not as well as his wife, is a decent guy - if one were to make a list of points for and against him as a spouse, the atheist thing would be the only thing in the "against" column. Well, and he has an unfortunate taste in sports teams, but I suppose I can't really hold that against him.

So in all, there's definite evidence that it can work - as long as each of you is comfortable with the other's belief (or lack thereof) and willing to accept that that belief (or lack) will have constraints on your life as a couple.

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Arethosemyfeet
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My wife is a neo-Pagan but accepting of my religious beliefs and commitments, with occasional gripes if she thinks I'm spending too much time on church things. We've been married nearly 14 years but if there is going to be difficulty it's going to be when our daughter decides she's bored with going to church with me on a Sunday morning and I'll want to keep taking her and my wife may want me to stop. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
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Martin60
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Zoey. You've dumped so much arrogant delusional dross. The rest MUST follow. We're nowt. We have nothing anyone wants or needs. Least of all our grandiose piety. Except the Spirit of Christ. If he doesn't love and accept you with that, with yearning, with private devotion, with an hour or so a week or so in a simple, creedal church setting where no one will make stupid, deluded, expectations of you, he doesn't love you enough.

Talk.

[ 25. February 2018, 20:52: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Lamb Chopped
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Zoey, I'm going to say much the same thing to you that I'd say to anyone wishing to marry cross-culturally or cross-anythingily. It is possible with some chance of success (I'm in a cross-ethnic/racial marriage) but the challenges are even higher than normal and the foundation will need to be even stronger than usual. I'm also going to draw on my parents' marriage for experience (generic Christian married to nonbeliever who got baptized but then became anti-Christian).

Basically you're talking about marrying out of your worldview. And worldview is so basic that it leads to any number of knee-jerk reactions in people; things are going to arise that seem to have one obvious response to you and to him, but those responses won't be the same in both of you, and then you'll have to navigate "Why is s/he saying THAT when the answer to all right-minded people is THIS?" That happens in any marriage (because all marriages are to some extent cross- just because two people are involved) but it will happen to a sweeping degree in yours if you end up married to this guy.

And the one thing that scares me is the simple fact that most people can't cope with continual ongoing challenges to their worldview. Which is why cross-cultural marriages have such a high divorce rate in my experience. And this happens however compatible you appear to be in most ways. I know it happened to us, many times. The fights can be memorable.

When worldviews collide, you need something that will pull the two of you together. Something that is as basic and unifying as possible, something that will be there even when you are convinced your partner has just asked you to do the equivalent of walking on thin air out a window on the 87th floor of a skyscraper.

In the case of my husband and me, that thing was Christ. I'm not sure what it would be if the different worldviews didn't both include Christ. Honor, maybe? A do-or-die commitment to "us" that includes even apparent craziness on the part of the other partner? Whatever it is, it needs to be damn solid, because "You promised to do x" isn't going to cut it when it comes to the day-to-day challenges -- the little things, I mean -- of colliding worldviews.

Take my folks. I'm sure Mom assumed Dad would let her raise us Christian, and I suspect he meant that, too. But it didn't cover "will you watch the vomiting youngest child while I'm gone for a Sunday morning with the other two" (answer: no) or "will you allow the kids to go on a church youth retreat that falls on a your weekend" (answer: no, with additional "the church is stealing my children from me"). And both of them felt hard-done-by.

It might have been different if they had had a foundation that would have allowed my father to see beyond the immediate frustration of losing his only weekly sleep-in or free time and say, "Yes, this is important to her, so I'm going to do it even though it seems daft to me." Who knows, perhaps it would have been better if my mother had been able to think creatively about ways to raise Christian kids outwith the church (for the most part), because that's exactly what she ended up facing. She couldn't get the three of us there because someone was always sick/leg broken/etc etc. etc. And it became a huge pressure point for their marriage.

Okay, so that's the basic thing that I think is maybe lying behind Paul's writing. Not uncleanness so much as cross-purposes. It's not to say it can never work, and in Paul's day most women didn't get much say in their own marriage partners, anyway, AFAIK. (The verse about the widow remarrying is probably there because she is the one woman who is actually likely to have a choice in the matter.)

Now to other stuff. If you end up marrying this guy, you want to make sure he realizes just what he's marrying into. For starters (and this is a big hurdle), he's always going to be second place to Christ.

Yeah, I said that. [Biased] It's true, isn't it? It will impact your life together in ways he won't get the opportunity to alter. Sort of like marrying into the military--he will be taking on a person with prior and greater commitments than what most people have. When / If the time comes, you'll need to have that conversation more than once so he knows what he's in for. Because if he thinks it's just a matter of marrying someone with an eccentric hobby or interest, he's going to get a big shock. Not to exaggerate, but there are ways in which marrying a committed Christian is similar to marrying a monk/nun who goes on being such. In the interests of being fair to him, you'll need to do the best you can to communicate that. Which of course will start with his experiences during the dating period. Start as you mean to go on. If Lenten services (for example) are going to be a priority in your religious life long term, go to then now and don't break them to see a movie together. He needs to know what he's getting into.

I won't say it can never happen. But IMHO if it does happen, it needs to start on a completely open basis from the start, so the non-believing partner knows exactly what he's taking on.

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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Zoey:
Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

* Are they sinful?

* Are they unwise?

* Does it make any difference whether the non-Christian is an adherent of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist?

Seems like you have to work out what sort of Christian you are -specifically who you think is "acceptable to God".

Because different Christian people answer that question differently. Some would say "anyone who tries to do what is right". Some would say "only those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour" or some such formula.

Deliberately choosing to get close to someone you believe to be currently unacceptable to God could well be unwise if you're planning on redeeming him and sinful if you're not.

If this guy meets God's standards (to the best of your understanding) then your conscience is clear.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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cliffdweller
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Zoey--

A lot of stuff to unpack on this thread! Some I'd agree with, some not.

Is it immoral? No. Nothing in the Bible suggests that.

Is it unwise? Possibly. I think that's what Paul is getting on about in the chapter in question-- but that's very much situational.

I'm not sure I'd worry as much as another poster upthread about what the "community" as a whole will feel-- in the US anyway, interfaith marriage is so common I can't imagine it will cause much of a ripple. I would assume the same is true cross-pond?

I think Lamb makes some very wise points (as she always does) from her own experience, and I think that's very apt. Note that she's not saying "don't" or "it doesn't work"-- if that were the case, she wouldn't have married Mr. Lamb. Rather, she seems to be saying "realize you'll have an extra set of challenges." That seems fair, and an appropriate caution to throw into the mix.

My guess would be that it will mostly come down to respect. Can you respect one another, including your differing beliefs. And that will have to go both ways. You will want to know: can he respect your faith, not mock or demean it, not interfere with your practicing your faith-- or, more importantly, wanting to pass that faith along to any future children. But for this to work, it will have to go the other way as well: can you respect his disbelief, live with it, not badger or demean or mock him-- and expect him to be honest with any future kids about why he doesn't go to church? Can you both deal with the inevitable disappointment on Sunday mornings or Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday when you're not spending the day the way you'd always dreamed you might?

Questions only you can answer. And you may not know yet.

I would agree with you that it doesn't seem fair-- to you or to him-- to string him along if this is going to be a deal-breaker. So if the relationship is far enough along for you to wonder, it's probably far enough along for you to raise the question with him. To begin talking about what life would look like if you were to have a future together-- how would you both feel about the different ways you spend Sunday mornings/ religious holidays/ etc? The way he-- and you-- both respond to that conversation will probably give you the most important clues about whether or not this will work.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
... Basically you're talking about marrying out of your worldview. And worldview is so basic that it leads to any number of knee-jerk reactions in people; things are going to arise that seem to have one obvious response to you and to him, but those responses won't be the same in both of you, and then you'll have to navigate "Why is s/he saying THAT when the answer to all right-minded people is THIS?" That happens in any marriage (because all marriages are to some extent cross- just because two people are involved) but it will happen to a sweeping degree in yours if you end up married to this guy. ...

Thank you, LC. As usual, you've put it perfectly.

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SvitlanaV2
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From an institutional point of view, it's hardly surprising that conservative Christians dislike religiously mixed marriages. Such marriages tend to reduce the level of religiosity and religious harmony in the home and hence the chance of faith transmission in children.* This means that religious institutions are less likely to benefit from such unions in the long run (even though they may be pragmatic about them).

Of course, this isn't of concern to all Christians. In Britain, religion is often seen as such a totally private thing that expecting to share it with your spouse or your children may be viewed as 'bigoted'. IME quite a few non-evangelical mainstream Christians are married to non-religious people. Many mainstream churchgoers are also ambivalent about trying to influence their children's religious choices too much. For such Christians, religion is mainly about their own very personal spiritual journey, or perhaps a resource for their engagement in social justice issues.

Having witnessed what I have at close quarters, though, I'd say that the religious indifference of a husband can be quite painful to a religious wife. I wouldn't risk that scenario myself, but I can understand why a Christian woman would do it, if she really wants marriage and children but can't find a suitable Christian man. I suppose it depends on your expectations of marriage, the options available, and what kind of Christian you are (as someone has already said).


(*I can't link to this, but if you look online for a pdf document called 'Passing on faith' by Olwyn Mark at the Theos Think Tank, you might find it has some very interesting sociological things to say about faith in the home and faith transmission. The section from page 27 onwards is relevant to this thread, but pages 56-59 address the issue of parental unity.)

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mr cheesy
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People grow and change, don't they? One doesn't know who one's partner is going to be in 20 years (in the sense of it being largely unpredictable where any individual's beliefs will end up).

In all honesty, it is a lottery whether one finds a compatible partner even if they seem to have complementary beliefs when you meet them. There has to be a considerable amount of give-and-take in all lasting relationships, and a high level of acceptance and forgiveness for those whose relationships span difficult divides such as religion.

So I don't know, and am not sure there is a hard and fast rule. I'm sure religion is too great a divide for some relationships, and it certainly presents complications. But I've equally seen broken relationships from people who are superficially much more similar.

Whether one can really think about these things when starting on a new relationship, I can't really say.

Good luck with it.

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Baptist Trainfan
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LambChopped: [Overused] [Overused]
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L'organist
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original post from Zooey
quote:
Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

* Are they sinful?

* Are they unwise?

* Does it make any difference whether the non-Christian is an adherent of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist?

Sinful? I'd say not unless a component of the relationship is something that you would consider sinful in a relationship with someone self-identifying as Christian.

You highlight I Corinthians 7:39 - I see no conflict with this; surely as a Christian you know/feel that we ALL belong to the Lord, whether or not we acknowledge him as God or even his existence.

As for the passage from II Corinthians: when Paul refers to "unbelievers" he isn't referring to people of no faith but to followers of another God; that wouldn't apply to someone agnostic or atheist becaue they follow no God.

You ask would a relationship with an unbeliever or doubter be unwise: I'd say that depends on how comfortable you think you might be with someone who would, inevitably, challenge your faith from time-to-time, not for the sake of disagreement but perhaps to do with issues of day-to-day morality. For example, if you personally are of the belief that people who are gay are outside the love of God or should remain celibate, you might find it awkward, to say the least, to be in a relationship with someone who took the view that it is the quality of a relationship - whether monogamous, committed, etc - that is important rather than the gender and sexual orientation of the people. Only you can decide if issues like this are likely to give you anxiety.

To my mind, the word "unwise" implies that you might think total separation from people likely to challenge or question your beliefs and assumptions to be a good thing - and is holding yourself apart in such a way a responsible, Christian thing to do?

As for whether the non-Christian followed another faith, I think that would depend on how much emphasis you place on the words of Paul, rather than Christ. I think you'll find that Jesus was far less proscriptive and, since the religion is called "Christian" and the believers Christians rather than Paulines, my gut would say go with Christ, rather than Paul who was, at the end of the day, a Pharisee. For me, that means it boils down to whether you think it more important to follow the law to the letter, without nuance or interpretation, or whether the spirit behind the law should be paramount.

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Fuzzipeg
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I tend to believe that these things become problems if you want them to be problems. If you both have sorted out any potential issues in advance then there isn't a problem.

A single mother I know is Catholic, her daughter, who is still at school, became a Muslim and her son attends a charismatic church and they are a close family.

The problem can arise when your 'normal'partner suddenly gets religion and then tries to impose it on everybody else.....that's another thread!

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Jemima the 9th
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I had 2 boyfriends before MrJt9. The first was, I believe, happily seeing another woman whilst we were still going out (though not sleeping with her, I think) and dumped me because I wouldn't sleep with him.

The second turned out, in hindsight, to be a serial shagger and snogger of the vulnerable women in the church. He also dumped me because I wouldn't sleep with him.

MrJt9 is an atheist. He has never to my knowledge or suspicion been unfaithful, and was willing to wait until marriage for sex.

Make of that what you will. [Biased] I suppose my point is that there's more to it than professed faith, but that others have said, outlook is important. MrJt9 & I do have similar outlooks on lots of things - the importance of seeing our families, stuff to do with raising the children, that sort of thing. We differ on politics, how much time we spend doing hobbies, and how many hours one should be working, but those are things which can be talked about, if not resolved.

The time taken for church stuff is important too. It's just very important to know what you're letting yourself in for, and how much time you'll have together is important there. (See earlier complaint about hobbies).

Also, I lost my faith nearly 10 years ago and now am sort of almost putting it back together a bit. Being married to a nonbeliever was definitely useful there...

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Jemima the 9th
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# 15106

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Oops, should have said, though I expect it's obvious, that the 2 boyfriends mentioned above were both self-professed Christians.
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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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I'm with Jemima. Christianity is no guaranty of decency. God only knows you can open the paper any day and read about life-long devout believers who have done appalling things they they are now going to be jailed for. Religion should be only one of the many factors you weigh.
And some of these other factors are in fact more important. Is he a good person? Is he kind to people like waitresses and busboys? Does he smell good to you? Do you agree about money? Can you laugh together? If the answer to these questions is a decided 'no', a mutual faith is not going to paper over the problems.

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leo
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# 1458

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How boring to go out with another Christian. Opposites attract.

Mind you,I couldn't share much time with a Tory. Nor an evangelical.

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quetzalcoatl
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Agree with leo. Too much similarity - yawn. Been married for 30 years to a pagan, we agree on quite a lot, but not everything. I am not really into the goddess.

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Erroneous Monk
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# 10858

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
How boring to go out with another Christian. Opposites attract.


Except my faith isn't a hobby. And my husband isn't here first and foremost for my entertainment.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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Enoch
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# 14322

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Does this exchange highlight something important about the difference between going out with someone and making a life with them?

[ 26. February 2018, 16:39: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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BabyWombat
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# 18552

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Reading this and discussing with my hubby (a decided agnostic at best) he says the basic question is “does the person do no harm?” Husband supports me in my ministry as priest because, he says, he sees the good I do listening, supporting, and so on. He avoids reading or hearing any sermon I preach so that he can do not harm in responding. For us this has worked for nigh onto 45 years.

Yes, we can each spend more time at our hobbies than the other would wish, but discussing it on the level of “do no harm” and being able to identify clearly where the harm might be if we feel it {ignored? Cost? Hobby all consuming?) makes it work. And, come Christmas Eve, I can always count on coming home from evening Eucharist to find candles glowing on the back porch (which has a stunning view of the parish bell tower), warm sweaters and cold Bourbon at the ready for toasting the feast and watching the stars.

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Let us, with a gladsome mind…..

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Zacchaeus
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The big thing for me is whether they are a person who will let you flourish in your Christianity or will they be against things that you do that they don’t see as important? Will they make following your faith difficult for you?

And that question can be equally true of another Christian or an agnostic..

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Meseems that if God calls us to only marry within the faith, given the current pew demographics, he is calling many women to be single. Perhaps he's concerned about nunneries closing.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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But this whole thing about "Is he decent? Isn't decency / shared values / fill-in-the-blank more important than shared faith?" isn't the question Zoey was asking. She asked:

quote:
Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

* Are they sinful?

* Are they unwise?

* Does it make any difference whether the non-Christian is an adherent of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist?

With an OP like that, jumping in and saying essentially "you're asking the wrong question, let's talk about decency and compatibility" seems to me ... unhelpful.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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The sinful question we have to put aside, because it boils down to whether you're going to stick to those OT texts about not marrying a Canaanite or not. (He isn't a Canaanite, I take it.)

The possible unwisdom we are trying to address. It is not at all difficult to find Christian-Christian unions that were clearly unwise, and Christian-nonChristian unions can be perfectly fine. So on that point the answer is, it depends. On you, on him or her, and on circumstances.

[ 26. February 2018, 18:14: Message edited by: Brenda Clough ]

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Meseems that if God calls us to only marry within the faith, given the current pew demographics, he is calling many women to be single. Perhaps he's concerned about nunneries closing.

And that's the real problem, isn't it? Moreover, the poor supply of Christian men also goes along with with the questionable quality of a good proportion of them, as has been implied by others above.

It's a delicate problem. When churches have tried to attract more men, there's resistance (e.g. on the Ship) from Christians who see this as sexist. So the theological conclusion we could draw is that the church really shouldn't envisage religiously mixed marriages as 'sinful'. And in many cases, ISTM, the church no longer takes that approach. It may see them as a challenge, if it takes any official position at all.

Evangelicalism is more particular - but then that's its job! Even evangelical churches change though, according to circumstances. My view is that the theological frequently springs from the sociological. When circumstances change, the theology changes. Over time, many evangelical churches have relaxed their position on various issues, and religiously mixed marriage is probably one of them.

Re your 'nunnery' comment: I'm positive about celibacy, but neither celibacy nor religiously mixed marriage does much for the pews, so you could argue that in the long run it all comes down to the same thing as far as the church is concerned.

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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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Disclaimer: Asking whether interfaith relationships are “ sinful,” and going to a conservative Evangelical website to weigh their opinions of interfaith relationships, are things that made me want to apply my mainline Protestant head to a brick wall and concuss myself into unconsciousness. If, as you said, you’re no longer part of that tribe... don’t let them rent any more space in your head.

My observations, as a person of a certain age, and with friends in successful interfaith marriages: Unless one or both of you are in radically exclusivist belief systems that automatically relegate everyone outside your group to hell — your shared values and your sense of purpose as a couple are more important than your individual sets of religious beliefs when it comes to whether or not your relationship will work. IMHO, interfaith couples who share positive values like respect, cooperation, kindness, loyalty and generosity, and who see themselves as a true partnership, will have a better relationship than two people in the same faith tradition who aren’t clear or consistent or serious in values, and who are just kind of drifting along together for mutually self- serving ends.

That said — it’s harder to raise children in a home where parents’ worldviews, religious and otherwise, differ profoundly. And, as has been noted, you don’t just marry each other, you marry your respective families, and depending on how traditionalist/ exclusivist the other spouse’s family, they could make your lives miserable. ( Which happened in my parents’ family — one nominally Lutheran, urban, relatively educated, culturally assimilated spouse marrying someone from a rural, “ off- the- boat” and isolationist, family of hardcore Lutheran Pietists.)

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Simul iustus et peccator
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Rosa Gallica officinalis
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# 3886

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Nearly 30 years ago I was a GLE going out with another GLE. We split up, but have maintained contact. He's now a pagan and I'm liberal (anglo) catholic priest. Starting out sharing a faith together is no guarantee that you will still share the same faith years down the line.

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Come for tea, come for tea, my people.

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Zoey

Broken idealist
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Quick post before work so not yet making all the responses I would wish to to all the interesting points made.

quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Does this exchange highlight something important about the difference between going out with someone and making a life with them?

The anxieties, annoyances, frustrations and upsets of dating are not something I enjoy in the slightest. I've endured the process of dating, on and off during my adult life, only because of the hope that it might eventually lead to a long-term relationship. Hence, for me, although going out with somebody in the very early stages might be different to making a life with them, the considerations about whether a long-term relationship / making a life with them would be possible very quickly come into play (because I am looking for something long-term, not for short-term dating enjoyment (which seems to me an oxymoron)).

quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
How boring to go out with another Christian. Opposites attract.


Except my faith isn't a hobby. And my husband isn't here first and foremost for my entertainment.
Quoted for the truth and importance (in my opinion) of Erroneous Monk's points.

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Pay no mind, I'm doing fine, I'm breathing on my own.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Zoey:
The anxieties, annoyances, frustrations and upsets of dating are not something I enjoy in the slightest. I've endured the process of dating, on and off during my adult life, only because of the hope that it might eventually lead to a long-term relationship. Hence, for me, although going out with somebody in the very early stages might be different to making a life with them, the considerations about whether a long-term relationship / making a life with them would be possible very quickly come into play (because I am looking for something long-term, not for short-term dating enjoyment (which seems to me an oxymoron)).

I don't think anyone here is doubting or minimising your lived experience. Some of us haven't dated for a very long time and are in no position to give advice to you or anyone else.

I hope you work it out. It is sad to hear that you have experienced dating as something to be endured.

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arse

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Rosa Gallica officinalis:
Nearly 30 years ago I was a GLE going out with another GLE. We split up, but have maintained contact. He's now a pagan and I'm liberal (anglo) catholic priest. Starting out sharing a faith together is no guarantee that you will still share the same faith years down the line.

This.

Connect with the person. Their faith is going to change anyway. Crucially, enjoy them and you time with them now rather than overthinking the future.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I hope you work it out. It is sad to hear that you have experienced dating as something to be endured.

I don't think this is a particularly unique feeling. A lot of people want to stop dating and get on with the rest of their lives.
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DaleMaily
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# 18725

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My experience is from the other side of the coin on this issue: I was a technical atheist (i.e. absence of faith) when my girlfriend and I started going out 2 years ago, whereas she has been a Christian her whole life. Six months later I became a Christian, and 9 months after that I got baptised.

Being with and potentially marrying a non-Christian was a big deal for her, and an even bigger deal for her church. I did a course at her church and I could certainly sense the pressure she and I were being put under, to the point where it was put to her that we break up "for the good of my journey", which to this day I am still struggling to forgive. One reason why I find this attitude so dangerous is that it places huge amounts of pressure on both parties, to the extent that the atheist could be so desperate to find faith because of the love for his/her partner, that they think convert thinking they have found faith, only to realise once it's too late (assuming neither believe in divorce..) that that faith never existed. Now, whether I would have become a Christian without being with her I can't say, but if the timings had worked out differently, I could certainly have seen myself turning away from faith because of this interference.

It's the arbitrariness being ascribed to God that I find difficult to accept: if you're both Christian when you sign on the dotted line, one or both can wake up days/weeks/months/years later and be an atheist (or convert to another religion) but you still get to be married because God doesn't allow divorce.

As for your case, I would certainly see how it goes in the short term, but the key from my experience is patience, patience and more patience. If he shows an interest, then by all means rejoice and encourage him. At the end of the day, though, no two people are alike: some may come to faith after attending one service or reading John 3:16 (though I am too much of a cynical bastard not to question these conversions), but I imagine for most others it takes way, way longer. In the meantime, thank God that you've found someone who seems to be a good match! [Smile]

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The more I get to know the less I find that I understand.

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I hope you work it out. It is sad to hear that you have experienced dating as something to be endured.

I don't think this is a particularly unique feeling. A lot of people want to stop dating and get on with the rest of their lives.
.tangent. I found dating Excruciatingly Awkward. Not surprisingly, I was spectacularly bad at it. If anything should happen to Mr. Cliffdweller, I shall become a cat lady-- and I don't particularly like cats

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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leo
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# 1458

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My old RE teacherr advised us never to marry a non-Christian nor a non-graduate.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Barnabas62
Host
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quote:
Originally posted by Zoey:
Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians:

* Are they sinful?

* Are they unwise?

* Does it make any difference whether the non-Christian is an adherent of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist?



Are they sinful?

Not in principle, any more than a romantic relationship between those who share a faith. It's been said that the journey between falling in love and loving is a pretty perilous one in our society. I was comparing notes with a really good friend at church, saying that for my wife and I the idea of love at first sight was probably the best description of what happened to us. She chuckled, said "In our case it was definitely lust!". That made me laugh - and reflect.

Falling in love is very much about strong attraction, strong desire. The question of whether that will move into long term, unselfish, caring and loving (eros to agape) is a profound one.

We celebrate our golden wedding anniversary this year, so I'm speaking from the perspective of us making that perilous journey successfully. When we were married, we were both agnostic and indeed remained so for the first 6 years of our marriage. By which time we had two children and the journey from falling in love to loving was well under way. So I don't think faith had anything to do with our early practical outworking of compatibility.

To make a marriage work long term, mutual unselfish sharing is not an optional extra. Growing up is when you find out it's not all about you. As it happens, we both got converted in our 7th year of marriage and I think our faith has helped us to understand better that unselfish, mutual loving in marriage is profoundly Christian as well as the central ingredient in making marriage work. Faith helped confirm what we were discovering without faith.

Are they unwise?

They are unwise if the relationship does not have the potential to make that journey from falling in love to loving. Is there sufficient innate unselfishness to help the growing up, the growing together? That is not guaranteed in any relationship, nor is it ruled out by differences of faith.

Shared faith and shared values are certainly not a guarantee of long term compatibility, as the divorce statistics for Christians makes clear. Christians are always in different places of Christ-likeness and if one is significantly more mature than the other, they may have to deal with a lot of selfishness. It's also true that if you have different views of male headship from your partner, that can be a recipe for a lot of trouble. A man who is immature in the faith, still with a lot of selfishness in his make up, but has been brought up with a strong belief in male headship can be a deadly partner.

In our experience, it is a very good idea to explore compatibility in some depth before you marry. Act in haste, repent at leisure, is a truth we've seen worked out too many times in marriage between Christians. The rosy glow of strong attraction, strong desire, can get in the way of seeing strong differences of outlook and understanding.

I think these thoughts are also applicable to your third question.

[ 27. February 2018, 19:06: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Little-jon
Apprentice
# 18888

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I see someone who's goes to one of those 'clear biblical teaching' con-evo type churches. It's a tough journey - her family apply a lot of pressure on our relationship - I'm a old school C of E / faith is personal always questioning but hopeful liberal type of Christian. - So I may as well be a lion feeding militant atheist to them.

Certainly a good test of relationship strength.

Her friends and just about everyone in the church are OK with me. But her family are tough - it's a battle of attrition.
As far as I can tell - to measure up I'd have to 'repent' my liberal Christianity - become ordained or become a missionary, sign the Westminister confession - along with I guess any associating with non-believers!

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by Rosa Gallica officinalis:
Nearly 30 years ago I was a GLE going out with another GLE. We split up, but have maintained contact. He's now a pagan and I'm liberal (anglo) catholic priest. Starting out sharing a faith together is no guarantee that you will still share the same faith years down the line.

I do think it's fascinating how fragile a Christian identity is. Provisionality is a part of our religious existence in a way that's much less apparent with other religions.

My guess is that our high level of individualism has a lot to do with it. Ironically, the religion itself has helped to foster that individualistic culture. There's a sort of built-in obsolescence, and it could be argued that to enter into a religiously mixed marriage is to take that individualism and self-negating quality in Christianity seriously.

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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Welcome, LittleJon. That sounds heavy.

B62 - what a great post. My wife and I have been married for 15 years, living together for 18, kids 10 and 12. We're only inching into that transition; I'm only starting to see what it is about. Talk about late developers - but that goes for my faith (always there, but 1% of a mustard seed), too.

Zoey - someone said 'start as you mean to go on'. Whatever you do, do that - don't edit anything of yourself now, you'll resent it later.

I'm sure you know that; sorry.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Little-jon:
I see someone who's goes to one of those 'clear biblical teaching' con-evo type churches. It's a tough journey - her family apply a lot of pressure on our relationship - I'm a old school C of E / faith is personal always questioning but hopeful liberal type of Christian. - So I may as well be a lion feeding militant atheist to them.


This brings back memories for me. I was happy in my liberal-minded Anglicanism. She was entrenched in Calvinistic Evangelicalism. I remember being interrogated by her minister - who clearly couldn't quite compute why she was bothering with me* when there were clearly many other, better, sounder, more biblical male specimens to choose from.

* a question I still ask myself on a regular basis.

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arse

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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Well, they say that lots of women like 'bad boys'. Maybe that's true when it comes to religion as well!

Devout girls might want a liberal or an atheist man they can train in the 'right way', and liberal and atheist might fancy taking a devout girl and making her a bit more naughty and a bit less religious! (Not too many ex-boyfriends to worry about either.)

[Biased]

I jest, but I still think there's a dash of truth in that!

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Caissa
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# 16710

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Go for it, Zoey.
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