…Spirituality isn’t the same as “going to church”
For me, this is a deal breaker.
The author writes that there is no culture, ancient or secular, that doesn’t have some system of beliefs…”man is incurably religious”. We all believe in something…God, the Force, Karma, the power of the human spirit, science, etc…and it greatly influences how we live. Divergent beliefs causes deep marital conflicts so most major religions encourage people to marry within the same faith. Christian scripture is pretty clear on this as well. Whatever your beliefs, it would be wise to discuss and compare them with each other to make sure you’re marching in the same direction, to the same drummer.
First explore these questions together:
- Is there a God? A God who created the universe and made us in His image?
- Has that God spoken? If so, how has He spoken?
- What has He said and how have I responded to His message?
Also explore differences between the traditions/practices of denominations within a faith.
Lastly, the book draws attention to “what kind of Christian” you are (as an example out of the major world religions.) There are those who consider themselves Christian because their families hold that tradition, but attending church on Christmas and Easter is about as Christian as it gets. There are some who religiously attend service, but God does not impact any part of their lives outside of service. And then there are the ones who believe the Bible is God’s alive and active Word and are seeking to live it out on a daily basis, trying to hear and be near to the heart of God, reaching out to serve and love in community with believers and non-believers alike. There IS a difference isn’t there. So as a couple, consider these questions as well:
- What is your level of commitment and involvement in the Christian community?
- How important is your faith/system of beliefs?
- Is your faith relevant to how you make decisions and live out your life?
- Is there enough in common between your faiths to build spiritual intimacy in your relationship? (Recall that spiritual intimacy is deeper and far longer lasting as a foundational piece in your relationship than physical intimacy is.)
Differences in the type and depth of faith is something I truly believe cannot be solved by “being in love”. I have seen marriages between a practicing Christian and a non-believer be strained to the breaking point and where their children (who I grew up with) end up carrying some of the consequences of their parent’s actions. I’ve heard testimonies of struggles…whether from a wife who became a Christian after marrying…or someone who is Christian and married a nonbeliever….and how they continually have a part broken heart because they cannot share the deepest kind of intimacy with the person they’ve committed and joined their lives to. I’ve also heard from people who wished their spouse would take their faith more seriously.
Growing up, my faith was just a part of life…but during university, my faith started becoming my life. It touches and influences EVERY part of me and decisions I make are in light of who I believe God is to me, and who I am to Him. I knew that I could not share life with someone who did not believe and behave similarly because there would be little I’d have in common with him. There were times where it seemed I was the only single girl left among my friends and I was tempted to find someone to be with, just to be with someone. But that would not be fair to either of us. Waiting was hard.
When the paths between Skywalker and I finally lined up, finding out about his faith was my priority. Apparently it was his priority too because the first four months prior to us committing to a relationship was full of questions about what we believed, how and where we served in Christian community, spiritual giftings, spiritual convictions, etc etc. (Among many other topics of course.) Are our beliefs exactly the same? Actually it isn’t…we’ve discovered after marrying that there are minute differences in how we interpret some things but it IS similar enough that we can develop deep spiritual intimacy. We wouldn’t have married otherwise.
I’ve said it before and I say it again, I’m SO THANKFUL that he is someone who puts God first in his life. Not only are conflicts more bearable to get through knowing we are first accountable to God, but we can lift and encourage each other in the deepest way through having the same Holy Spirit in Christ. Our life goals, and now marriage goals, will be shaped by the same motivators and desires to be nearer to God. I wouldn’t trade this kind of relationship. Ever.