For I have come to set a man against his father

When my wife and I got married, neither one of us were particularly religious. We both were members of our churches (she is EO,) and found value in this, but it was mostly from a cultural/philosophical/private way of seeing religion, not a desire to follow Christ were ever he leads us. So fast forward nearly a decade and I am becoming more religious; understanding that to say you are a member of the Church means a degree of submission to authority, knowing that even though “I” may have an opinion on something, this in and of itself is not justification for it being true.

We have hit a big wall over gay rights. My wife has an unfortunate history with this issue, her family (religious in the cultural/casual way only) has many homophobic members, and as fate would have it, many gay members too. So, both our Churches say homosexual acts are a sin. Recently this topic came up when I was arguing that our culture (USA) moving past just a “I am OK, you are OK” view of gay rights into outright “If you think heterosexual relationships are inherently better than gay ones, you are a bigot” was too much. I mentioned that it was hypocritical for a group espousing tolerance and equal rights would try to silence a POV that disagrees with some of their positions and this attitude was a real threat to our Churches.

Well, my wife has been passive-aggressive with me ever since. It came to head this week when I asked for a 10 or 20 spot to put in the collection plate. She balked and said that I was breaking the family bank with my new found frequent Church attendance, and that she needed to know these things, so she could reduce the amount of money we give to her Church (not even close to 10%) I told her I had no idea our finances were that tight (they aren’t) and said that if the money was an issue, I would give up my only discrentionary spending, fast food, in order to give a pitiance to my parish too.

Then I was accused of trying to guilt her and make her feel bad.:frowning:

Long story short, I tried to explain that we ARE ALL SINNERS. I tried to explain that none of us are made right in God’s eyes because of our actions, but rather through our faith. I tried to explain that I had never judged a gay person (which she acknowledged was true) because their potential sin was no worse in God’s eyes than my sin, or anyone elses.

She didn’t get it. She said she didn’t trust me anymore and was worried about these changes in me, and was afraid that when I was around her closeted gay relatives I would act out and spew hate at them. I pointed out that I was just around her family, and the people in question, within the last couple of weeks and acted no differently than I ever had in the past.

So, I am at an impasse. My wife isn’t well catechized, she doesn’t understand the theological points I am trying to make, and isn’t really in a position to try and learn. She is a modern, morally relativist woman who married a man of similar disposition that is pulling a “bait and switch” on her all these years later.

She blames Paul for my opinions (that is probably my fault) because I speak often of my personal devotion for this great Saint, and read his writings nearly daily. She tried to read some on my suggestion, but it is admittedly a very difficult read, and not something she is interested in.

So, what should I do? My faith and the Church are becoming very important in my life. They aren’t in hers. I don’t want to drive a wedge between us, but she is having problems trusting me now that I am submitting to Church authority on these teachings. I don’t want to damage my relationship with my wife…but I also don’t want to feel weird reading the Bible in front of her, or going to Mass alone (this isn’t her fault, we have a 2yo, and 19th century churches with no kiddie sections.)

This passage is stuck in my mind. I feel I am caught between betraying my Lord…or hurting my wife.

Matthew 10

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.*

The same thing happened to me a few years ago when I started growing spiritually and realised that one aspect of being Catholic is submitting my own will to the church. My atheist husband didn’t like it. It scared him. He said he didn’t know what he was getting himself into when we got married. Fair enough. I understand that the change in me must have been quite a surprise, and not a good one.

The only thing I can advise you to do is to find a way to do both: to be faithful to the church, and to not hurt your wife. It doesn’t mean you will compromise on your faith and put God second. No, it is about the way you go about it. Only you can figure out how to do that, and it could take some time. Perhaps one of the things you could not do is talk about it a lot. Answer questions when she asks them, but don’t force anything. Don’t start these conversations.

It sounds like she is really scared of what is happening to you because she doesn’t understand any of it. Accusing you of treating gay people badly while knowing well that you do not do that suggests that pretty clearly. It’s like she is desperate to show that your faith is turning you into a monster of some sort. Don’t fall for such baiting. Tell her it is nonsense and that she knows it. All gently and lovingly, of course.

Being a good Catholic man can only make you a better husband, and father. :thumbsup:

I strongly recommend you read Rome Sweet Home, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.
Dr Hahn began as a staunch protestant theologian, and converted to Catholicism, which terrified his wife.
He offers some helpful suggestions and you can see how it went for them. By relying on God, it turned out very well.

I know it’s hard when your are seriously pursuing God and your spouse is not supportive. I have had similar issues with my wife. I’ve had a hard time understanding her attitude towards learning about God, especially because she grew up with a stronger Catholic background than I did. She would occasionally attend mass (mostly just on C&E) and we were married in the Church, but for some reason she got rather upset when I started to attend mass regularly and read the Bible. She especially did not like when I would try to discuss what I had learned.

It took her several months to cool down about it, but it has gotten better. One thing that seemed to help was that she noticed positive changes in me. It may take a while, but I am sure that at some point your wife will not be able to help but notice.

The last thing that comes to my mind is specifically about the homosexual issue. From your post it seems like you are saying, and I may be wrong, that your wife doesn’t fully understand or care to learn the Church’s teaching on homosexuality (you said she would even read St. Paul). Maybe you guys could set this issue aside for now and come back to it later when she is ready to study it thoroughly. I don’t think this would hurt as long as she is not supporting/promoting homosexual life styles in anyway. If she is, maybe you could politely point out that it is not wise to advocate such a position when you are not fully aware of the other side. You may want to look for some Catholic literature on the issue that can explain the Church’s teaching. I know why I agree with the Church on this issue, but I would have a hard time articulating it to someone who holds another view.

I realize this will be hard, especially because of the family issues, but with God you can get through it. I hope something in my response will help.


I’ve always found it thought provoking that - when you consider the Scripture passage you quoted - Jesus didn’t say he came to set a man against his wife. That is one relationship he left out of his teaching in this regard.

Thank you everyone for the replies. I hope that we can put the hot button issue on the sidelines for awhile and she can see that the way I act towards people isn’t any different, and hopefully continues to be more charitable.

Part of the issue is that I am a conflict-escalator at times. For instance, I could have left the balking over the collection plate slide for a few days and ask to look over our finances together in detail. But…no…instead I aired out my frustration and a little bit of pain that night. It had been simmering, but I let it boil over and each of us was hit by the scalding water. :frowning:

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