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Ask the Patriarch 113
My girlfriend is a Baptist

from Brent

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I have a question: I have been dating a girl for about 3 months. She is Baptist and, in my opinion, pretty devout.

Right now, she thinks that I'm Catholic. I was raised Catholic, but I'm agnostic now and have been so for about 6 years.

My question is, how do I tell her this? I mean, I'm falling in love with her, but I'm scared of losing her for misleading her about my beliefs or for not being Christian. I don't want a break-up, but I don't want her to spend her life trying to convert me either.

Is there any good way of going about this?

The Patriarch replies:

A similar issue was raised in Ask the Patriarch 9. and some useful thoughts were provided in the discussion. I still believe that religiously mixed relationships can work, but they require honesty and acceptance by both of you.

A lot depends on your girlfriend's specific beliefs - and there is a wide range of possibilities in the term devout Baptist - from those Baptists who insist upon a fundamentalist literal belief in the Bible to those with an ability to integrate real world knowledge with a Christian belief.

It is far easier to maintain a long-term relationship with what I call a rational Christian than with one who insists the world was created 6,000 years ago. You need to know where she stands; and she needs to know about your beliefs.

You need to have a talk.

I suggest that you bring it up something like this:

"You know I have developed strong feelings about you, but I'm worried that our religious differences might get in the way in the long term. I don't need to change what you believe, and I don't want you to change me, but we should understand each other so we can accept each other. Can we talk about this sometime? If not now, in a few days when you have thought about it?"

Put that in your own words, but don't put it off too long.