Ethical dilemma...
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ethical dilemma...

Dear All,

I am married for almost 10 years now. My wife was initially a "moderate/liberal" Christian, now turned born again fundamentalist 2 years ago. I am Buddhist. We have a lovely daughter who is almost 8 years old now. We have been searching for another child for a few years without success so far.

My dilemma stems from her religious beliefs and the education she will give (and is currently giving) to our children. Essentially, born-again fundamentalists Christians value a lot of things that are diametrically opposed to my own views. They value blind faith, I value investigation. They constantly jump on the less likely explanation (Jesus healed me from my cold because I prayed), I value rationality (I stayed at home and I recovered from the cold natually).
They ignore uncomfortable facts that go against their beliefs, I value truth above comfort even if it means you have to change your views. They value blindly the words of an old book, I value following what your heart says. They say everything comes either from God or from the Devil, I value personal responsibility. They say you can't be anything without God, that you are worthless without God, I value the humanity in people.

She speaks in tongues and goes into trances. She cries, weeps and shouts when praying, and of course she is 100% certain to be right and that all who do not follow the same path as hers are lost. She is proud of her intolerance and take it as a sign of her faith, I think people of different faiths should not judge each others. She believes the Earth was created 6000 years ago, but when I probe her a bit on the subject, she does not understand a thing about the science behind it.

For living with such a person in the same house, I can honestly say that it really looks like insanity to me. If it was not because of the 'Christian' label and the political correctness expected towards religions, I am quite sure that psychiatrists would classify such behaviours as heavily deluded.

In essence, I feel uncomfortable having more children with her because they might follow this path of blind belief and non-sense madness. I feel it is also my responsibility as a future father to check the environment my children will grow up in. I want my children to value truth, personal responsibility, non-discrimination, being honest with oneself and having confidence in one's abilities. I don't want my children to live in a parallel universe and deny truths and facts they see in front of them for the sake of clinging to blind beliefs. I don't want my children to blindly believe a book or a priest without checking the facts. I want my children to use their grey matter to the full, not to throw it in the bin. That's where I have an ethical problems having more children with her; that's about 6 months I really have some doubts about having more children with her.

Already my daughter is giving signs of not being able to apply the same judgement criteria to Christianity. She is perfectly happy to dismiss some fancy stories around the Buddha's birth (which I think is the right thing to do), but believe literally that Paul was feeding on locusts and wild honey.

Our daughter is already attending a Christian school, which I am sort of OK with. My wife is talking now of doing some home schooling, and I know she started to look at Christian-specific curriculum... That's sending some shivers done my spine...

I know she really wants more children. And my parents too, they want more grand-children... I know having more children will be a happy event in the beginning, but there is a strong possibility of it turning sour.

I would appreciate some external point of view. It always helps to have other perspectives on a certain situation.

Thank you very much for any help!

Last edited by metta; 01-23-2013 at 04:32 AM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ethical dilemma...

I'll try to help here, although this is tough.

My father was a Presbyterian minister, and I grew up in a loving, open minded family. Good questions were encouraged, sometimes answered Biblically, sometimes answered scientifically, and sometimes with "we just don't know". My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family, and I liken his particular experience to spiritual abuse. His family and church took a very "legalistic" approach to how to live one's life, completely missing the finer points of Grace. Based on what I see in my husband, I am concerned for your daughter, however not all churches are the same, not all families are the same, etc. My husband's life absolutley hit the wall, and we are working with a pastor on helping my husband heal and ultimately grow in his faith. These are the books that were recommended to us and are beginning to read together:

Growing up Fundamentalist, Journeys in Legalism and Grace by Stefan Ulstein

A Scandalous Freedom, The Radical Nature of the Gospel, by Steve Brown

Transforming Grace, Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges

Silent Killers of Faith, Overcoming Legalism and Performance Based Religion by Dr. Stephen Crosby

Best wishes to you...
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi HealthyMe,

Quote:
Originally Posted by HealthyMe View Post
I'll try to help here, although this is tough.

My father was a Presbyterian minister, and I grew up in a loving, open minded family. Good questions were encouraged, sometimes answered Biblically, sometimes answered scientifically, and sometimes with "we just don't know". My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family, and I liken his particular experience to spiritual abuse. His family and church took a very "legalistic" approach to how to live one's life, completely missing the finer points of Grace. Based on what I see in my husband, I am concerned for your daughter, however not all churches are the same, not all families are the same, etc. My husband's life absolutley hit the wall, and we are working with a pastor on helping my husband heal and ultimately grow in his faith. These are the books that were recommended to us and are beginning to read together:

Growing up Fundamentalist, Journeys in Legalism and Grace by Stefan Ulstein

A Scandalous Freedom, The Radical Nature of the Gospel, by Steve Brown

Transforming Grace, Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges

Silent Killers of Faith, Overcoming Legalism and Performance Based Religion by Dr. Stephen Crosby

Best wishes to you...
Thanks a lot for your input. That does not sound very encouraging, though...
I'll have a look at the books you recommended, many thanks for that!

Kind regards!
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Your welcome and feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Such a shame, Metta, I empathize with you. Fundamentalism in any form is rotten to the core...

It always amazes me how blind some can be to this, it's like with faith...we chuck reason and LOVE for our fellow man right out the window....

Quote:
Why Fundamentalism is Wrong a piece of the article below.

Fundamentalism Defined

Fundamentalism is variously described by various authors, but to me it really boils down to a rather simple test: In my view, a fundamentalist religion is a religion, any religion, that when confronted with a conflict between love, compassion and caring, and conformity to doctrine, will almost invariably choose the latter regardless of the effect it has on its followers or on the society of which it is a part.
Fundamentalist religions make this choice because they uniformly place a high priority on doctrinal conformity, with such force that it takes higher priority than love, compassion and service.

Indeed, many fundamentalists are so caught up in doctrinal seriousness, that love, service and compassion seem scarcely to even be a part of their thinking. As one correspondent said to me regarding a certain Christian sect's converts, "Its like they go in and surgically remove any sense of love or any sense of humor."

This emphasis on doctrinal conformity seems to be the result of the belief in the requirement of absolute conformity to doctrine to achieve salvation. Yet at the same time, many will also officially claim that simple acceptance of that sect's doctrine is sufficient for salvation. This dichotomy is often seen in the same sect; some of the fundamentalist Christian sects being good examples. The contradiction seems to go unnoticed or if it is noticed, it is ignored.

It seems that another facet of fundamentalist thinking is belief in the correctness of their thinking. Invariably, they will make the claim that they are right to the exclusion of others, even all others, and that they, and they alone offer the path to salvation.

Fundamentalist religions regard their missions with great seriousness. Many claim that the salvation of the world depends on them, and some will seriously contend that the earth will end without them
....
Even the salvation prayer is a newer concept... I think the best thing for her is to learn of the history of her new found beliefs...if she is willing to go there...that's the problem.

The Sinner's Prayer: Modern apostasy and false teaching that prevents men from being saved.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Personally, I would divorce and seek custody, after gathering evidence for a few months on the depths to which she drags her daughter into that madness that is fundamentalism.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi SA,

Quote:
Originally Posted by SimplyAmorous View Post
Such a shame, Metta, I empathize with you. Fundamentalism in any form is rotten to the core...
Yes. I already read this article a while ago. I agree with it, now the question is 'what do you do if you happen to live with such a person?'

Quote:
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Even the salvation prayer is a newer concept... I think the best thing for her is to learn of the history of her new found beliefs...if she is willing to go there...that's the problem.
I didn't know that! Thanks for the link!
I am studying a bit how Christianity evolved over the ages, and it is striking that its theology has evolved right from the death of Jesus (if he ever existed) to today. And obviously, Christians fought against each other a great deal mainly because of differences in doctrines or theologies...
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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There is amazing divercity within the Abrahamic religions and in there many forms more than half the population of the Earth believe in them. You can not force anyone to beleive as you do but we should all be tolerant of those whoes faith or lack of faith is divergant from our own.
It is hard when one person within a relationship experiances big changes in their life that the partner either does not share in or is opposed to.
In your situation I can understand your uncertanty about attempting to bring up further children together when you ar struggeling to come to terms with the changes in your partners life. Whilst I would not comment on the relative values of differant belief systems there is something to be said for torerance and understanding as opposed to dogma and fundamentalism.

I hope that you and your wife are able to sit down and speak frankly about the concerns that you have and come to an understanding.
My best wishes (and prayers if that ok) to you all.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
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At the very least, you should be taking her to a counselor so that you can hear from a professional the best path forward. You have just as much right to dictate how your child is raised as SHE does - remember that.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:37 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiltshireman View Post
There is amazing divercity within the Abrahamic religions and in there many forms more than half the population of the Earth believe in them. You can not force anyone to beleive as you do but we should all be tolerant of those whoes faith or lack of faith is divergant from our own.
It is hard when one person within a relationship experiances big changes in their life that the partner either does not share in or is opposed to.
In your situation I can understand your uncertanty about attempting to bring up further children together when you ar struggeling to come to terms with the changes in your partners life. Whilst I would not comment on the relative values of differant belief systems there is something to be said for torerance and understanding as opposed to dogma and fundamentalism.

I hope that you and your wife are able to sit down and speak frankly about the concerns that you have and come to an understanding.
My best wishes (and prayers if that ok) to you all.
Thanks for your wise words, wiltshireman.
I will have a talk with her. But with fundamentalists, everything is black or white. I will not expect much from such discussion, but still we have to try...
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Since everything is black or white, you will have to learn about boundaries/consequences and start enforcing your boundaries. Boundaries In Marriage by Cloud and Townsend is a good place to start.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:01 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Hi turnera,

Quote:
Originally Posted by turnera View Post
Since everything is black or white, you will have to learn about boundaries/consequences and start enforcing your boundaries. Boundaries In Marriage by Cloud and Townsend is a good place to start.
Thanks a lot for the reference, that looks interesting. I'll probably have a go at it. Thank you!
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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May I ask, what prompted the change 2 years ago? Did she talk and share her thoughts with you about changing her beliefs? What influenced her?

You should have equal say in your daughters education, start doing your research so you can knowledgeably discuss it with your wife. Are the schools in your area quality schools? Home schooling has advantages and disadvantages, please don't let your wife make a unilateral decision about your daughter's future.

As for bringing another child into this, I agree with you and would be hesitant to do so.
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Old 01-25-2013, 12:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Will she work with you to come up with an approach to raising and educating your child(ren) that you both can accept? If I were you, I'd probably try to approach it from the angle of respecting your opinions as a father, instead of getting into a religious war.

I was raised by atheists, but grew up in an extremely conservative Christian small town. When other people talked about religion or kids talked about their churches, I felt left out. Religion was always intriguing to me, whereas most of the other kids thought church was boring. I always wished I'd at least had some kind of familiarity with the Bible so I could understand what they were talking about. Same went for later when I would read literature and there were so many references I didn't get because of my total lack of education on the subject of religion.

Point being, it may be good for your kid(s) to learn something of your beliefs, as well as your wife's. I would fight tooth and nail against homeschooling though. Your kids will need a balance of influences to choose from.
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:06 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I agree. Let them see both views on religion, but do NOT bow down to the homeschooling. IME, in situations like this, the homeschooling is done for one particular reason - to keep the 'evil influences' away from your precious child. That comes about as close to a cult as I can imagine.
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