I’ve known for a very long time that I’m an atheist. I was raised by strict Baptists, so the Bible (and their narrow-minded, misogynistic interpretation of it) was drilled into my head nonstop when I was a kid. I was great at memorizing and regurgitating what they wanted to hear because I’m smart, but the problem was that I didn’t believe a damn word of it and I was too afraid of the consequences to just be honest.
I stopped going to church and moved out on my own as soon as possible, but it was still nearly an entire decade before I felt comfortable enough in my own atheist skin to be honest. I always thought that my negative experiences with religion would make it impossible for me to ever date someone who did adhere to an organized religion (and that a religious guy would never want anything serious with a heathen like me 😝). How then did I end up in a very happy marriage with a devout Catholic? Here’s the logic I’ve been able to draw from my experience.
1. Catholics are way more fucking reasonable than Baptists. They are fine with drinking and don’t treat women like possessions to own and control (at least my husband doesn’t; he knows better). After growing up in a religion where I was expected to be a doormat for men, it was refreshing to meet someone who appreciates the fact that I’m a strong, independent, intelligent and educated woman who won’t be controlled by anyone. We are equals, and that’s how a healthy modern marriage should be.
2. He didn’t expect me to convert for him. If I did, it wouldn’t be genuine anyway, and who would want that? It’s ridiculous that that question even came up, but of course people asked. I find it interesting that people asked me if I was converting to Catholicism for him but nobody asked him if he was renouncing his faith for me (and of course I would never expect that, just pointing out the glaring double standard here).
3. He knew that churches make me uncomfortable and that my dream was to have a beach wedding, so guess what kind of wedding we had? It was my dream indeed, but we both love the beach so it was great all around.
4. We have enough in common in other areas to make up for our differences. I’ve never really believed that your soulmate has to be exactly like you in every way, but a lot of people do. Wouldn’t that get boring? Sometimes opposites attract, and the differences keep it interesting (as long as you’re both respectful about disagreeing).
5. I don’t need religion to be a good person. I strive to be a good person every single day and do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t need the reward of heaven or the threat of hell to inspire my actions. In the words of one of my favorite atheists, Penn Jillette, “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.”
6. The only kind of kids we want are fur kids, so there’s no debate about whether to teach them religion or not. He disagrees, but I’m pretty sure all dogs are atheists so we outnumber him 3 to 1. When asked about their views on religion, Miles and Crackers replied “woof?” Call me intuitive, but that woof sounded very humanist to me and not the least bit like a prayer.
Did I ever imagine that I, the most hardcore atheist I know, would someday agree to marry a Catholic? Hell no, but I’m glad I did because he’s my best friend and the first man in my life to ever treat me right. Dealbreakers can be broken for the right person, and that’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 34 years, so I encourage you to keep an open mind if you’re still searching for Mr. or Ms. Right. Your future spouse and best friend could be someone you’d never even considered as an option.