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Internal debate re: FFIL

I lurk occasionally and know a lot of the regulars give very level-headed advice so I trust you'll give it to me straight...

My FI and I are both agnostic. For me, religion is a very personal topic and I don't discuss my views with many. When we've discussed how to raise our childen, we've both agreed that we'll teach tolerance of other religions/beliefs. When it comes to our ceremony, we'd both heavily prefer a secular ceremony. The problem? FFIL is a former pastor (but still works in that field) and it is very important to FI that his dad performs the ceremony.

I don't have a problem with that but I feel like a fraud. FMIL/FFIL don't know our views. I feel it is disrespectful to ask him to perform our ceremony but leave out all aspects of religion. He seems to be very tolerant of other religions (specifically trying to incorporate Jewish traditions in another ceremony he performed for a mixed-religion couple) but I think that's completely different than saying "please don't mention God."

We meet tomorrow to discuss the ceremony. He'll know then that we are using all secular music and a non-religion reading (my niece, from a children's book), but am I not being honest with him? Should we disclose our beliefs? I don't feel entirely like I am compromising my beliefs... it's more important to me that my FI has his dad perform the ceremony, no matter his beliefs. Make sense? My FI is hesitant because to him, there's nothing wrong with it, so why rock the boat.

Re: Internal debate re: FFIL

  • This is something you really need to hammer out with your FI first.

    If your FI is willing to pretend that he's religious in order to "not rock the boat," what's going to happen when your in-laws are asking you to baptize your children, send them to Sunday school, attend church with them, etc? Is your GI going to tell you, "Let's just do what they want to not rock the boat"? Is he going to be able to back you up and agree to the things you guys mutually agreed upon beforehand, or is he going to just do whatever's easiest even if it means disappointing you?

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  • Yes, we're still talking about it. I just wanted an outsider's POV. I would not lie if he asked us our viewpoint on a religious subject but I do feel a little deceptive by not volunteering it. We are not pretending to be religious, in the sense of faking it. (Now I'm thinking... a ceremony with religion could be considered as faking it.) However, up until this point we've made no effort to perpetuate an assumption that we are religious nor smooth over/ignore any religious conversations. It's just never come up in 6 years with them--there should be no assumption on their part one way or the other. I guess it is possible that they could have figured this out already. (Though I doubt it.)

    And we both agreed not to baptize/do Sunday school. I won't compromise with that. (Meaning, bend to my IL's wishes. It is only our decision.) I've always thought that I wouldn't have a problem telling them that but obviously I'm deluding myself if I am struggling with just this aspect. They know we do not attend church but I still feel like it will be a shock to them.

  • Your FI sounds like a wishy-washy ninny. He's agnostic to your face to please you, and a Christian to his parents' face to please them.

    And as the pp said - this isn't going to end with your wedding ceremony, so unless you're willing to accept either lying or possibly arguing with your inlaws over your beliefs, I'd take a few giant steps back and reconsider who your FI is and what, if anything, he stands for.

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  • He is not a Christian to his parents. He has never portrayed himself to be. Other than the fact if you raise your children to be Christian, you probably assume they are still a Christian. He has never said "I'm agnostic" so he is guilty in that sense.

    He has acknowledged all along that he realizes he might have to tell his parents tomorrow. I felt like we were doing something wrong and he feels like it's only wrong if he has to outright lie or lead them on. And what he thinks is leading them on is different than you do.

    We just need to put ourselves in his dad's shoes and realize how hurt he could be by performing a ceremony for people who aren't so sure about God.

  • image Maybride2:
    Your FI sounds like a wishy-washy ninny. He's agnostic to your face to please you, and a Christian to his parents' face to please them.

    Not to please me. He was agnostic before I was. Is he afraid of displeasing his parents in one of their core values? Sure, who wouldn't be?

    We talked about it more and he realizes that he needs to speak up about it tomorrow. Better to get it out of the way at the beginning. Having a ceremony with religious parts will make them think that is our beliefs.

  • image mbcdefg:

    This is something you really need to hammer out with your FI first.

    If your FI is willing to pretend that he's religious in order to "not rock the boat," what's going to happen when your in-laws are asking you to baptize your children, send them to Sunday school, attend church with them, etc? Is your GI going to tell you, "Let's just do what they want to not rock the boat"? Is he going to be able to back you up and agree to the things you guys mutually agreed upon beforehand, or is he going to just do whatever's easiest even if it means disappointing you?

    I agree.  It doesn't seem right to go into a marriage with deception, especially with such a close family member.  You both need to tell the truth.  If your FFIL won't do your ceremony (and I'd respect him not feeling comfortable with it), then hire a local non-denominational minister or judge to do it for you.

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  • i think you're just going to have to tell ffil that you are both agnostic, tell him that you'd love for him to perform your ceremony but understand if he does not feel comfortable with it and then go from there.
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  • I agree with PP.  You need to be honest with them about your Faith decision (and you need to be not surprised if they react to that decision in a way that you might not like.).  I think that it is only fair to let him know that it would mean a great deal to you both to have him officiate at your ceremony but that you both want God to remain out of it - and that if he doesn't feel OK with that, that it isn't going to rock the boat and that you'll be fine with seeking out another officiant. 

    If he is "in the business" of God as you say, he may not feel comfortable officiating at a wedding without mention of a divine spirit and I think that you and your future hubby need to be OK with that possibility too and have a plan B just in case.  It isn't fair to ask him to compromise his beliefs as much as it wouldn't be fair for them to ask you to compromise yours.

  • I was so careful in selecting a ceremony site because I've always felt it was disrespectful when people who weren't very religious got married in a church because that's "the wedding we've always pictured". But ultimately, we are guilty of the same thing, just in a different way. We need to work more on our tolerance (respect) of other religions. We had a huge blind spot.

    Though, I stand by the fact that we were not being deceitful (until we asked his dad to perform. We should have disclosed then.) Before that, our beliefs were none of their business nor anyone else's. To reiterate, we did nothing to make them assume anything up until the point we asked his dad.

    image gwynnetx:
    i think you're just going to have to tell ffil that you are both agnostic, tell him that you'd love for him to perform your ceremony but understand if he does not feel comfortable with it and then go from there.

    That is exactly what we will do. If he doesn't, we'll find someone to perform a civil ceremony.

  • I just don't see how "omitting" truths about yourself starts your marriage on the right foot. 

    Your FI needs to be honest with his father.  I'm sure your FI isn't the first pastor's son to question his beliefs! 

    Part of being an adult is being honest about yourself.  I agree that it's time for your H to tell his dad about his beliefs.  (And it's also ok for his dad to be disappointed that your FI isn't Christian - as long as he respects that you made your decisions as adults). 

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
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