Ask FHM is a corner of the Internet where we fan the flames of your burning questions. Here, we dish out some tough love and an honest take on whatever potentially life-changing situation you find yourself in (while silently thanking God we aren’t you right now). Ask us anything. Except for money, and if open-minded ba kami.
Vol. 8: 'Her Family Is Religious, But I Hate Church—How Do We Compromise?'
I’m in a relationship with someone I can pretty much say is the love of my life (yep, certified sap here). Things have been smooth sailing these past couple of years—we have no major bones of contention, save for one: Her family is legit religious, while I’m adamantly against the whole shtick (you should have seen me at this year’s Holy Week pabasa, which of course they hosted). They’re Bible-thumping, confession-hearing, rosary-toting good people. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, and while I’m always welcome to the weekly lunch out post-Mass, the pressure is slowly mounting to address why I don’t just go to church with them in the first place. I’m now viewed as the okay-na-sana BF who needs Jesus in his life.
Am I an evil person? Do I have to change just because I love this girl?
Yes, you are an evil person, totally doomed to rot in hell! Not. Come on, man, if you’re half the lapsed Catholic that most of us are (sorry, mom), then you know that while you’ll be carrying this vague sense of instilled guilt all your life, you’re not Satan incarnate.
Truth be told, the fact that you even care about this issue at all—because you say you love this girl—just shows that there’s hope for your poor, damned soul after all. And its looking like you genuinely want to resolve this situation, and don’t worry, because the way we see it, you won’t need to resurrect your old sacristan whites to do so.
Here’s your starting point in figuring this out: What’s your girl’s take in all of this? After all, she can still hold on to her faith and all it entails regardless of your own belief system, right? If her family sees that she remains steadfast, why is there such a need for you to join in—they’re not a cult (or are they? We’re kidding! Bless us Father, for we have sinned).
Many, many couples go on to have successful marriages and raise solid families despite being of different faiths, or practicing varying degrees of one. Faith, and consequently, religion, is such a personal journey, and we all too often forget to respect others’. That’s pretty much what it all boils down to—show them you respect their religion and how they practice it (so, yeah, that doesn’t include laughing or commenting on their yearly pabasa) and hopefully, over time, they will respect your own choice to live life sans church on Sundays.
It’s but natural (and very Pinoy) for them to expect you to join in on their religious practices. But you don’t need to, if you truly know in your heart that it isn’t for you. As long as you reassure them through your actions that you’re as decent as they come, they will soon find no reason to judge your lack of religious inclination. After all, there are many ways to prove your fundamental goodness, and they should be able to see that. If they’re half as godly as they seem to be, they should be able to realize that you attending church is not the end-all, be-all of your person. Hello, how many dickheads, criminals, and corrupt politicos—actual sinners—hear Mass on Sundays, only to turn around and commit their dastardly deeds the moment they step out of the chapel?
On the other hand, some might advise you to attend Mass with them as pakitang-tao. It seems like the path of least resistance, but this could be problematic in two ways: first off, don’t go to a church and hear Mass as a way to suck up or keep the peace. That pretty much defeats the whole respecting-religion thing we just talked about. Also, committing to something this major could breed resentment in you, and you could unwittingly take it out on your girl.
But many in your shoes choose to do this anyway, seeing this just-go-to-Church-so-they’ll-shut-up solution as the most viable. After all, we’re taught that so much of making a relationship work is mastering the give-and-take of it all, and maybe for some, surrendering an hour of their Sundays is a small “give,” if they feel it will smoothen some speed bumps in the course of familial relations. Again, this is a discussion best had with your significant other. What does she feel about you attending church just for the sake of it?
So will you succumb and put on your Sunday best, or stick to your guns? Ultimately, it’s up to how much you’re willing to hold on to what you believe in (or in this case, don’t). As long as you don’t half-ass it, and continue to take care of your girl and what you guys have, then you both should be fine in the long run. You may even find this to be a non-issue later on.
Oh, but don’t even think about not baptizing your future children. Your in-laws’ wrath will bring down the seven plagues on your head.
Illustration Borg Sinaban