One of the biggest challenges for me, identifying as agnostic, dating and subsequently marrying someone who identifies as Christian, was the feeling of being personally attacked. Wayne never said to me that he believed that I was a terrible awful person who would spend eternity rotting in hell, but I knew that Christianity as a whole -like all religions do to some extent- promoted the idea that nonbelievers are in some way misguided from the truth.
Before my own experience, I would have thought agnosticism as a belief system would be ideal in an interfaith relationship. Instead, I found my lack of faith to be incredibly hard for Wayne to understand. As a Christian in a country where it is the dominant religion, he never had to consider what it felt like to be told that, despite all the good you may put out in the world, you would be damned forever. He did not see the war I felt like Christianity waged against me personally as Black person and a woman. I felt like his allegiance to an institution that could justify persecuting me simply for not participating meant he thought less of me as a person. To deal with my feelings I constantly insisted that we talked about religion so that I could argue my point of view. This was not effective. At all. It did, however, lead to fights and tear and insecurities, and a short-term break-up.
Even now, religion, continues to be the most tense topic between the two of us, but we are learning. I have come to respect, and even admire his ability to have faith. Although it doesn’t always feel like it to me, I know that Christianity is not a monolith and there are many different ideas and interpretations within the religion. I try to acknowledge each Christian I meet, including Wayne, as an individual, with their own internal belief system that simply works within the framework of their religion. I know that some people use religion as a cloak to hide their true intentions, giving an entire religion a bad name. Wayne tries to see things from my perspective and empathize with my fear of being attacked for my beliefs. Sometimes we pray together. Sometimes I don’t participate. Sometimes he wishes I could be just a little less logical and a lot less stubborn. We have decided that we will try to find a church that we can agree upon together, but I am not sure how that will go, especially because some of my church experiences have particularly off-putting, but I am willing to at least try and we will see where that takes us.