When I write on my blog about the whole “struggle of being an atheist in a Christian family” thing, at least in my head, it starts to sound repetitive. Maybe the first time you read a post of mine, you thought, “Wow, that sounds like a difficult and unique situation,” but by now you may be thinking, “Okay, we get it, you’re the ‘Closet Atheist,’ you have to go to church with your family, it’s not the end of the world.” I definitely feel that way sometimes. It’s my story and I tell it so much that I get used to it. But it indirectly influences my life in ways that I can’t shake and is quickly driving a bigger and bigger rift between me and my family. In reality it’s not a joke or a quirky storyline that I can use to get views on my posts. This is my real life and it is a mess.In my last post I said this: “My fiance and I have a(nother) really long talk with my oldest sister. The situation in July has not stopped creeping into almost any conversation we have. In short, my sister is really concerned that we don’t feel any remorse about having premarital sex and we don’t seem to view it as a problem. This leads to a whole new can of worms that can potentially ruin my wedding and which deserves its own post…stay tuned.”
Here is the post about that can of worms! Hopefully my pain will entertain you.
You may remember that I announced that I got engaged in August of 2017. After five months, we still haven’t decided on much of anything in the way of a wedding date. I don’t think it should be a big deal, but this is why planning our wedding is so hard and why it relates to me secretly being an atheist.
I graduate college this coming May. Once I graduate, I’ll be moving back home until I get married and move in with my future husband which would ideally happen in January of 2019. I think it would be a waste for me to live in my own apartment for a matter of months instead of living either with my mom or my fiance. But I can’t live with him until we are married because cohabitation (which means having sex 24/7) is totally a sin. And premarital sex is obviously a worse sin, if not the worst sin ever.
Living with my mom is not that bad. Of course it will be hard, after living on my own and even having the freedom to stay at my boyfriend/fiance’s place whenever I wanted for four years, but it wouldn’t be impossible; I once lived with my mom for eighteen years. The only thing that is unbearable is that because we broke the law of God by having premarital sex, and last summer my oldest sister broke my trust by telling my mom about it, now my mother doesn’t trust me and my fiance to be alone without supervision for one second for fear of ripping each other’s pants off. I promise I am not making this up.
I’m not even that upset about not being able to have sex for eight months. Again, I lived without it for eighteen years. What really bothers me is that once I move back home, every ounce of freedom that I have in my life will be stripped away from me. My fiance and I can’t be alone in a room together. I can’t be home alone for a weekend because there is a chance that he could come over. We couldn’t watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve because we weren’t allowed to be alone in my house together, and my mom and sister wouldn’t return from seeing a movie until 12:15. It’s like being grounded, but worse, and constantly, as twenty-two- and twenty-three-year-old adults. It’s embarrassing. It’s insulting. When I try to express the unfairness to my mom, she says she thinks it’s silly and unnecessary for her to have to do something like this, but we should have thought of that before we decided to have premarital sex three years ago.
This leaves my fiance and me with a bleak selection of options to save us from enduring a living hell where we can’t be together without a babysitter for eight months. My oldest sister had suggested that if we feel the need for sex so much (when it is really a need for adult independence, trust, and freedom), then we should just get married in a courthouse as soon as I graduate and move in together, and throw a wedding party later. You might see that as a reasonable option as well, but I want to have a real wedding and be a bride and get married. I’m aware that this costs money that we likely won’t have saved up until next January, but if I can just suck it up and live at home for eight months, it will all be worth it. Good things come to those who wait, right?
May not even then. There is yet another twist in the plot!
I have always known that there is something couples have to do before they get married called marriage counseling. What I didn’t know is that if you want to be married in a Lutheran Church by a Lutheran pastor then the pastor sets goals that you have to achieve before that pastor will agree to marry you. And of course, we want to be married by my pastor brother-in-law in the Lutheran church I grew up in and still go to.
My oldest sister, the pastor’s wife, told my fiance and me in our previously mentioned conversation that in our current sinful state, her husband would most likely not deem us fit to be married. I just figured that that was something that would sort itself out with time, but it slowly dawned on us that if the couple isn’t a pair of upstanding Lutherans, then the pastor probably won’t agree to marry them. So as far as we know, we are stuck between lying and pretending to be good sexless Lutherans and having to find someone else who isn’t important to us, to perform our ceremony–or just going to a judge.
As far as the wedding-date-and-money problem, my mom told me that she’s willing to chip in about half of the total that we need, but I see how disgusting it would be to get married using someone’s money only to turn around and tell them you’re an atheist once you’re free from their influence on your life. And as for the marriage counseling problem, I’ve always thought that my days of outright lying and saying I’m a Lutheran were behind me, and if my brother-in-law just knew that my fiance and I are atheists then it could be up to him to marry us or not.
So because of how deep in over our heads we are with this situation and how it is directly impacting all of our lives, I did the only thing that made sense in an attempt to clear the air.
I told my mother I’m an atheist.