My Marriage Isn't Valid?
This actually happened to me. I just simply don't understand people who think like this at all. -.-
**There are instances in here, by the way, where I have omitted my real name, my friend's name (and I don't even know the woman's name) from this memory due to privacy reasons.**
Differing Religions and Marriage
Both my fiance and I were raised Christian: he Methodist and me a fundamentalist Baptist. For as long as I can remember, my fiance has always been more agnostic in his beliefs before he completely converted to Wicca in December 2011. I had been struggling with my faith in Christianity since my freshman year of high school (about 2006 or 2007) and finally realized I didn't really believe in what I had always been taught about the beginning of my senior year (2011). I kept up the pretense in my very religious family but didn't personally have any specific deity I prayed to, labeling myself Agnostic. When my fiance (then friend/boyfriend -- it was a complicated relationship at the time) told me he was converting to Wicca. The old dogma was still in my head and it was all I had ever known. There was a part of me that said "he's going to hell" and I was sad. As a good friend, I wanted to know more so I could be supportive of him. But as I researched more and more I realized that a vast majority of what Wiccans believed, I'd always believed as personal views away from the church. I decided to convert in March of 2012 and felt like I was coming home. I've never regretted my decision though it did take time to get over the fear that had been instilled in me as a child. Our families don't know of our religion because they are both very religious and I actually fear for my life because of how religious mine is, so for personal safety we keep it secret. My fiance and I got engaged June 22, 2012.
Now on to the situation.
I was telling a close college friend of mine how I had gotten engaged and how we were getting a handfasting done so we could be married by our Gods (in secret with maybe a few close friends and families members that know we're Wiccan), but that we are also getting a Christian one done to appease our families and keep up the pretense until it is safe to reveal our true religion. She was so excited and curious about handfastings because she hadn't ever really heard of them before. A handfasting is what Wiccans and many Pagans call their wedding ceremonies. An older woman, mid-40s perhaps, turned around in her seat in the restaurant and started talking to us, having overheard.
"Wiccan handfasting, beloved? Repent to Jesus of all of your sins. You cannot be married unless it is by God," she said as she looked at me.
I was sitting with my back to her and turned around with a slightly surprised expression, "How is my handfasting any less valid than a Christian wedding?"
"Because it isn't of the Lord," she said, "It is of the Devil. Please repent. We can pray right now. My Bible is out in my car. I can go get it and we can save your soul."
I looked at her like she was crazy, "I don't believe in your devil, your god, your Jesus, or your Bible. I respect that you do, ma'am, but I am absolutely happy with my Goddess and God. What need I of your god?"
"Because you will burn in hell for all eternity, my dear?" she looked like she was actually trying to save me from something bad. "You are worshiping the Devil and you don't even realize it. Please, let us pray."
"I don't believe in hell. I was raised Christian, mind you, but it's not something I believe in now," I said, "I respect that this is the way you believe, but I see nothing for my soul to be saved from. Just because I believe in more than one deity and want to be married by them, doesn't make my marriage any less valid or wrong. Now will you please allow my friend and I to finish our meal. Have a nice day."
I wanted to leave it at that without starting a fight or scene, so I just turned back around and started talking to my friend again as if nothing had happened. But in my head I was screaming at that woman with fiery anger. How could she say that my marriage wasn't valid, that my Gods weren't real, that they were "the Devil" when I didn't even believe in such a thing?! People like this made me so angry and sad.
I took three deep, cleansing breaths and pushed it out of my mind as my friend and I continued on with our conversation. But the woman persisted, saying multiple other things to my back, getting more and more desperate. Finally, my friend asked for the check and a doggy-bag and we left the restaurant quickly.
My friend looked at me and said, "I'm so sorry, my name. She was way out of line."
"It's ok," I smiled, "Let's just get in the car and forget about it. It's not going to change my mind anyway."
And so we left, but that woman's words and actions still linger in my head. It just goes to show just how much one little book can do to a person's beliefs and opinions. She honestly believed that she was saving me from something terrible, but also was chastising me for wanting a handfasting and for believing in different gods. This is just how much some religions differ on religious beliefs, especially ones about marriage. Some people just can't wrap their heads around the idea that some people believe/worship differently than them. It's not "sinful". It's not "evil". Each person has the right to worship as they please, whomever they please, and to love whomever they please.
Has anyone else ever had this problem before or been in a similar situation? That your beliefs were wrong and "of the Devil"? That because you were a member of another religion, that you were "going to hell"? That because you loved someone and wanted to marry, you were told that your marriage wasn't "valid"?
This is what's wrong with the world today. There is no respect for other people. There is no coexistence. If we could all just take a second to understand, to respect, and to live-and-let-live, you would be surprised just how much we could all get along.