Posted by: serrels | April 20, 2010

Welcome to Stuck in Church!

This is me. My name is Mark.

Burger fight

I’m eating a hamburger. It was delicious – but it almost killed me.

This is my wife.

She’s hot – am I right?

Yes. The answer to that question is yes. But there’s a catch – there’s always a catch.

She’s one of them there Christians. [Gasp!]

Not a burning witches at the stake Christian; or a picketing dead soldier’s funeral Christian – she hasn’t set any abortion clinics on fire… yet. She’s just a regular Seventh Day Adventist Christian, with Christian beliefs. Her father’s a pastor, she believes in God, she reads the bible, she believes that Jesus loves her and died for her sins.

Problem is – I don’t believe in any of these things. Except for the ‘dad being a pastor’ part. That’s a cold, hard scientific fact – I’ll let that one pass

Now for the point, and the reason for the existence of this blog.

Before I got married, myself, and the missus to be, got together and had a wee chat about our obvious differences and how they could be managed (cordially, without the need for head severage). Eventually a compromise was struck – she accepted the probability that I would never, ever… ever get baptised as a Christian. In return I agreed to accompany her to church – not every week, but most weeks – not to keep up appearances, but to keep her company, and maybe learn something about her beliefs in the process.

Hence this blog. Quite literally, as a result of a promise that I cannot break, I am ‘stuck in church’.

Me – stuck in church

Instead of moaning about the situation, I’ve decided to write about it, for a couple of reasons.

The first being that I want to document how being in church has affected me – the positives, the negatives, the frustrations, the breakthroughs. I find it hard to see myself ever being baptised as a Christian, but writing a blog like this forces me to stay objective and balanced about the experience of going to Church.

The other reason is a little more pompous, so bear with me. My situation can be awkward – quite often I find myself playing Devil’s Advocate, arguing against blind faith with Christians, whilst simultaneously attempting to convince Atheists that Christianity can be a positive force in people’s lives. What I’ve found most concerting during these experiences is a complete lack of respect (on both sides) for the viewpoints of others –  there’s a wilful ignorance that I find unhealthy and just plain irritating.

Hopefully this blog can be a means of uppercutting said ignorance into oblivion – a middle ground where people can talk about their personal beliefs without fear of reprisal. Then we can all give each other a long, slightly awkward hug and declare world peace.

Well, that’s this old, crazy fool’s dream at least…


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  1. i have sort of been there, done that, there are great people in and out of various churches, i used to be a “SEV” but the more i studied it the more i could see problems with it. main thing i think it to be nice to people and respect their right to a belief no matter how silly ( as long as it does not hurt anyone ) all the best, it is always possuble that your beliefs or hers might merge or change, just have a nice life, it is good that you write about this stuff, not many do.

  2. Hi Mark,

    I can really relate to a lot of what you shared above and I look forward to following your journey through the blog.

    I myself was an agnostic (from a half-Catholic/half-athiest family) who married a former Anglican Youth Pastor. At the time, he was struggling with his own spirituality (or, perhaps more accurately, the “church” as an establishment). In my efforts to support him and finding myself “stuck in church”, I actually discovered a missing part of me.

    Although I experienced a rather dramatic conversion – and yes, I went through the irritating-to-others “new christian” phase – I still found myself playing Devil’s Advocate and being frustrated by the lack of intelligent debate and tolerance within the religious community.

    Almost a decade ago I became moderator of an online interfaith communty and have often found myself embarrassed to be associated with some of the Christian participants. I received some venomous critisisms online and off for allowing myself to become “unequally yoked” (gotta love the cliche’s) with unbelievers, agnostic theists, wiccans, panthiests, hindu, muslims and even satanists (you have wonder what kind of witness some of these critics were who only saw fit to socialise and preach to the already-converted).

    Although I still identify strongly with Christianity, I can honestly say that over the years I have learned something from every one of these people (christians and non-christians alike) and am far richer or it … indeed, it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it (ok, now I’m just stealing quotes from Aristotle).

    I have no doubt at all that you will be enriched as you allow yourself to entertain beliefs other than the ones you currently hold.

    Yes, sometimes bad chrstians happen to good people, but overall we’re not so bad to be “stuck” with a couple of hours each week. 😉 I guess I see the Christians I fellowship with as family in the truest sense – sometimes they drive me crazy but I love them to bits (yes, even the most frustrating and ignorant ones) and wouldn’t swap them for the world! I should say that I am not SDA myself, but I’m confident you’ll find plenty of genuine love and support within the church.

    I look forward to reading of your experience and wish you all the very best on this journey of discovery (no matter where it may lead you).

  3. Cool project, Mark. I’m looking forward to your dispatches from the pews (or interlocking chairs as the case may be).

    I’d be interested in a post clarifying your position on God’s existence or lack thereof. But that’s the theologian in me. What would be much more entertaining is a series on “Stuff Sevies Like.” You know: witty observations about meatless hotdogs, Hillsong music, and so on. Sky’s limit really.

    • Does theology exist? if there is no god then it “theology” becomes a study of a concept . Much like the study of bugs bunny, yes you could “study” bugs bunny but a walking talking wasacly wabbit does not actually exist.

      I still have a soft spot for people “in the sda church” but i became unstuck after reading the god delusion and other books.

  4. Rock on serrels! There are many Christians, as well as atheists I have met – who are equally ‘stuck’. Immovable in their opinions, thoughts or actions. I like your open minded-ness.

  5. “Stuck in Church” love it!! My father (who’s not a Christian), like you, goes with his wife to church on occassion. Despite not being a believer, he always encouraged us kids to not only go to church, but to be invoved in as much as possible. So I feel I had a privelage growing up with an athiest and Christian in a loving home never forced one way or another.
    All the best mate.. looking forward to the next post.

  6. Mark I love this!! I’m actually really excited to read more posts soon, whether they make SDA christians look good… or bad. It’s always important to understand one-another and this is a great forum in which to do that. Thanks for spending the time to write about your experiences.
    Oh and YES your wife is reallly HOT!!

  7. Hey guys, thanks so much for the comments –Christie, I loved what you had to say about your experiences – the internet can be a weird place. No one really has to take responsibility for the crap they write!

    I’m really glad to find people who relate to this – so thanks!

  8. Mark I love the way u write it makes me laugh and think at the same time. Great blog this will be v.interesting.
    P.S. Top photo you picked for the header banner! and yes Heizy is hot, I covet her hair very much in that photo. And her tan!!!

  9. I’ve never followed a blog before but this sounds interesting, I consider my self a rationalist, and I am married to a Christian, but I have been able to get out of going to Church for the last few years because we live over an hours drive from the church, but will be moving into town soon so I could end up being stuck in church to.

  10. Thank you soOoOo much for sharing your journey with us…as, unfortunately, the Christians NEED to hear how their faith (OR lack of it) is seen by the world and how it truly affects the world. Please share how their actions have negatively influenced you, instead of helping they need to look ‘in the mirror’ more often.

  11. I can already see the potential in this blog!

    Mark, I can relate to you on so many levels. I have links to the SDA church, a christian girlfriend, i’m agnostic myself and come from a spiritually indifferent home. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on many of the things I have faced which I know you probably have too.

    I also think you should write a whole blog post on hay stacks. I mean seriously, it wouldn’t be SDA commentary if there wasn’t some mention of haystacks and sabbath lunch.

    keep it going mate. you’ve already go so many readers.

  12. Hey man, hope it’s not purgatory or hell. At least choose a fun church to hang out at.

    I enjoyed hanging out with sevs coz it’s my cultural heritage but plenty of times had the cringe factor and crazy stuff. My girlfriend at the time came along to hang out with me, and she loved the pastor who was wise and radical and incredibly insightful. But it messed with her too much. I totally understand why.

    So good luck buddy! Hope you survive ok. You might choke on the tender bits but you’ll die of a heart attack from all the sugar at potlucks. Daniel missed out on that luxury!

  13. What a cool guy! The photo reminds me of a funny scene from movie ‘Houseguest’ where Sinbad’s character is forced into vegetarianism through mistaken identity an finally gets his hands on some Mickey D’s and wolfs it down. Hilarious!
    Hey there, this looks like it will be a cool experiment. I wasn’t a sevvie–became a sevvie–became a non-attender–married a non sevvie and while I have no animosity at all toward the sda would rather stay a non attender. People are lovely and sincere, but can be rather awkward if you say or do something different to what is considered the ‘norm’. So I look forward to you postings and if you ever feel the need to reach out–it seems you have already made some friends here to ‘keep it real’.
    Just a note–don’t get stuck with the ‘lay preachers’ at the end of the

  14. She sure is a hot babe! Keep putting the pics up!!!

    • I honestly considered not approving this post – not because I find it offensive, but because I’m worried that my missus might spot this comment and get all full of herself.

      I need to keep her self esteem low.

      • Didn’t work, I saw post and now have full-ness of self! Thanks Grant! Lol!

  15. Wow, what a ride your life will be!!

    I must confess, having been brought up with a particular religious world view it was really important to me to agree completely with my now-husband about these meaning of life issues, particularly as we planned to have at least one child together, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to do that with completely different beliefs about how to get nifty parking spots.

    But more importantly to me was for the two of us to share the same political views. So… I’m interested to know – are you and your wife as far apart in your politics as you are in your religion? Or do you find a common ground in your attitude to economic rationalism, climate change and/or refugees in leaky boats?

    It makes me think you are in kind of a long distance relationship, but not of the physical variety….

  16. Oh no, they got you! 😛

    …actually, I’m in the same boat at the moment – luckily it’s only once per fortnight, and we get a free meal (I’m not only in an interfaith marriage, but an international one, too – finnish/english – we’re going to english language lutheran services ATM)

    keep us updated!

  17. Hello,

    Just found this place through Mojoey’s blog. Really interesting.

    I’m also an atheist married to a Christian. I can’t stand church so I don’t go except at Christmas and Easter. Even then, if I can get out of it, I will. My point is that you deserve a lot of credit for your willingness to compromise. For me church feels like such a time suck – sort of like going to a Star Trek convention every week when you don’t like Star Trek. I’d rather stay home and scrub the bath tub. At least I get a nice clean tub when I’m done!

    My situation is a bit more complicated because when we got married we were both Christians. I was a Catholic. He was, still is, what I call fundie-lite. I deconverted after reading the Bible. He was not happy, but we stuck it out and got through it.

    I’d never dream of interfering with his beliefs. I’ve never tried to stop him from going to church. I don’t try to talk him out of it. I don’t make fun even though it is tempting sometimes. I have encouraged him to read the Bible. Really you should know your own holy book backwards and forward.

    He’s stopped pressuring me to go to church. He even read a chapter that I showed him from “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan.

    There are still awkward moments like when his family tries to reconvert me. Eeewwww. They’re very nice people. Honestly I don’t think they can help themselves.

    Also it can be weird being around his church friends. Sometimes they allude to the unsaved and glance in my direction. Eek.

    Wow. That was way longer than I intended. Anyhow, I love the concept of your blog. I can definitely relate. And I like your tone: fair, reasonable and friendly.

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