This has been discussed many times before in this little corner of the Internet, but it’s back. With a vengeance.
As Will approaches his first birthday, the debate between me and MJ regarding baptism, religion and the well being of Will’s eternal soul has re-emerged in a big way. In case you’re new to these parts, MJ is Catholic. I am against all organized religion even though I was raised Protestant. MJ wants him baptized at a Catholic church and only a Catholic church. I don’t want him baptized at all, but especially not at a Catholic church. But what really bothers me is MJ’s STRONG belief that babies are born with the sins of the mother on their souls. Therefore, she truly believes that if Will died tomorrow he would not get into Heaven because he wasn’t baptized. As you can imagine, even though I love and respect my wife I find that to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and complete bullshit to think an infant is even capable of sin.
We are two stubborn Portuguese people dead set in their ways and the result has been a stalemate, with Will remaining unbaptized.
So last night we got to talking about it again and I came to the table ready to make concessions. First, I repeated my suggestion that Will be baptized, but not in a Catholic church. Keep in mind, I’m against baptism in general because I feel very strongly that organized religion will be detrimental to my son. But MJ nixed that suggestion right off the bat.
So then I suggested that we hold off on baptism for right now. Even though it’s against my better judgement, I said if we held off baptizing Will then we’d take him to different churches when he’s a little older and let him decide what he wants to do. After that, he could be baptized in the faith of his choosing. But again, MJ was unwilling to bend saying that it was “stupid” to be baptized at age 7, 8 or 9 or whatever age Will would be when he’s baptized. Apparently you have to be an infant in MJ’s world.
So then I got pissed. And I got pissed because to me, it seems like I’m the only one willing to compromise here. I suggested two alternatives that involve my son eventually being baptized, which totally goes against all my beliefs. Yet MJ is being a huge baby and basically saying “I’m only doing it if I get exactly what I want!” And let’s not even get into her belief that my innocent son would go to hell because he bears MJ’s sins. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
Now, I’ve discussed this with many people. And it’s funny, because most of the mothers I’ve spoken with say something like “Well it seems to be important to her so I’d just let her get her way, because you don’t believe in religion anyways.” That argument is STUPID! I do have beliefs, I believe religion is dangerous. After all, what has caused more wars in history than religion? And don’t get me started on the Catholic church specifically. The thought of Will as an altar boy/pedophile’s pet is enough to make me ill. So I do have beliefs and they’re strong, just as strong as MJ’s belief in her faith.
But I am sympathetic to her situation. If she goes ahead and has Will baptized she’s getting what she wants, but she’s eternally pissing off her husband. And let’s just say forgiveness is not one of my strengths. If she doesn’t baptize him, in her mind, she’s putting her son’s eternal well being at risk. But again, that’s why I tried to come up with alternatives. But her unwillingness to meet me halfway really has me pissed off.
She has promised that if he is baptized Catholic (which it’s looking like that’s what’s going to happen) she will expose him to other religions as he grows up and not pigeonhole him into the Catholic faith. Which cracks me up because I’m pretty sure the whole point of a Catholic baptism is to promise to raise the child by the tenets of the Catholic church. So essentially she’d just be standing up there and lying, all for the imaginary idea of cosmic insurance if something terrible were to happen to Will.
Which brings me to my last point and the thing that makes me the saddest.
When Will is baptized in a Catholic church (because it’s pretty clear that’s where we’re headed despite my objections) I cannot in good conscience stand up there with my family and agree to all the vows listed by the priest. I do not believe in God. And not only will I not agree to raise him in the Catholic church, I will do anything in my power to steer him away from the church and religion in general.
So my wife, my son and our two best friends will be standing at the front of the church during this “celebratory” moment and where will I be? Sitting down in the pews, a bystander. And that makes me sad because as his dad, I want to be a part of everything he does. But not this. Never this. I feel too strongly to be involved in something I feel is bad for my son.
I really hope this is worth it for MJ. Because while I’m sure I’ll eventually get over it, I will NEVER forget her unwillingness to compromise on an issue so important to both of us.