Should Atheists Lie about Beliefs for Love?

My girlfriend is Christian. She holds no judgements against me for not believing in god. Religion is never a topic of discussion, unless it’s in an academic sense or if it’s necessary to discuss a current event. She not only tolerates this blog; she laughs at some of the hidden jokes I sprinkle throughout my prose. But there’s a moderately large problem I see looming somewhere in the future.

I’ve never met her parents. Her father is a retired Southern Baptist minister, and he believes dating (or marriage) between Southern Baptists and non-Southern Baptists is forbidden. My girlfriend wants me to meet her family, but she guarantees me they will ask my religious beliefs very early on during our first dinner. I didn’t think this would be a problem because I can tell a whole truth that masks the whole truth. You see, I was born into a Southern Baptist family (but my parents never forced me to be religious).

The obvious solution to this problem would be to answer their questions about my religious beliefs with “I was raised in a Southern Baptist household” or “My family is Southern Baptist.” This is completely true, and there is no deception in that answer. But my girlfriend warns that this answer will not satisfy their inquest, so I have to either admit that I’m not Southern Baptist, or I must lie and say I am.

This presents a real conundrum to me: I personally feel it’s unethical and immoral to lie about my religious beliefs. But I also feel it’s wrong to throw my girlfriend under the bus by confessing to her parents that I do not believe the same things they believe. Without lying they will never sanction our relationship. But if I lie I will feel ashamed of myself.

There is no way to solve this problem without either harming my girlfriend, our relationship, or my own sense of pride.

So what should I do? I already know the answer: My pride must suffer for the sins of our love.

I suppose this is a sign of a much bigger problem about religion. Forget that I’m atheist! Pretend I’m a Christian for a second. A Pentecostal Christian. The mere fact that I’m not a Southern Baptist Christian is a death knell to parentally-sanctioned love. What fucking century do we live in again?!

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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6 Responses to Should Atheists Lie about Beliefs for Love?

  1. Well, also realize that it’s not you throwing your girlfriend under the bus. Her parents are driving it, they see the road clearly up ahead, and they can brake if they want to. It is not your fault you are in this position, just like it is not your girlfriend’s fault.

    Unfortunately you can’t control what her parents will do. Instead, I hope your girlfriend can realize the significance of her parents conditioning their love based on the beliefs of her boyfriend.

  2. Personally, I wouldnt. If I was in that position and was asked that early on I would simply reply ” I was raised baptist, but I hold alternative beliefs.” and if he asked further id be honest, the closest I could come to lying about my beliefs is saying something along the lines of “Im not sure where I stand with my faith right now”. After all, even if he disagrees with your beliefs, hes not in control of who his daughter loves, dates, and marries, no matter how much he wants to. Im sure it will cause some problems, but better now. If you do go with being honest, id suggest being very straight forward that your willing to follow their traditions even though you may not agree with the beliefs. (although rereading the whole ” my families southern baptist” may fly, try that first)

  3. My advice is to tell the truth about your beliefs, but to word it in a respectful way. I used to ask myself this question a lot, and it always came to “would somebody who is religious lie and claim that they aren’t when meeting my friends and family?” And never once did I think that they would. Be who you are and have no shame. Her parents should admire that, and if they don’t then you’re probably in for much more frustrating situations in the future.

  4. Barry says:

    In my opinion it’s best to be honest from the outset. Eventually the truth will come out, and knowing they had been lied to is likely to do more harm than knowing the truth from the outset.

    You and your girlfriend have to make the final decision, but my own personal experience might be worth considering.

    When my future wife informed her parents that she wished to marry me, they were totally against it and refused to even contemplate that we could be together. Their objections could be summarised as:
    1. I was the wrong (inferior) race.
    2. I didn’t hold their religious beliefs
    3. I didn’t speak their language
    4. They suffered severe financial loss due to policies enacted during American occupation of their country. Although I’m not American, my country was “on their side”, so I was “guilty” by association.
    5. I lived on the other side of the world, and that meant they would loose their daughter.

    It took time to win them over, but by being respectful of their beliefs while holding true to my own values, they eventually came round to giving our marriage their blessing and full support. If I were to do it again, the only thing I would do different would be to introduce myself to her parents earlier. That way, they hopefully would have come to the conclusion I wasn’t harmful before the issue of marriage came up.

  5. Peter Mann says:

    Having the hots over some fragrant filly is heavy-duty intoxication.
    What you end up with when marrying a christian woman
    is a set of values and expectations that may be very difficult to live with.

    Women are collectively of the opinion that men are morally retarded.
    They use this feminist doctrine to justify acting like your mother.
    Do not be fooled : the war between the sexes is something to avoid.

    If a christian [or newAge] woman accepts you as an atheist before marriage,
    she will not be bound by that tolerance after she is legally entrenched in your life.

    Apart from hijacking their prey with the values imposed by their religion,
    the Western woman will work like Machievelli to harness & domesticate their new provider.

    After extensive research, i concluded that courtship is a state that women want us to perpetuate, to match up with Mills&Boon phantasies that are as religious as Islam.
    Being exhausted or no bored by repetitious demonstrations of romantic ardour
    is an unforgiveable sin in the mind of a female romantic.

    Be warned, young man. Thou art in peril of losing a big chunk of personal freedom.
    She had really better be a clear eyed collaborator in your own vision of the good life.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      After further discussion I have come to discover that she is a Christian by name only. She “doesn’t know” whether or not she believes in god or God, but she is certain Christianity got it wrong. Had I known this prior to writing this post I would have made her beliefs more of a focal point. Then again, I am in no way trying to sway her to the atheist side of things. I’ll let her figure that out on her own, if she ever comes to that conclusion.

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