Marrying and Raising Children within the Faith

The other day, I posted this documentary on facebook with the comment that I wish our communities were as committed to intergenerational longevity and growth as the Jewish communities depicted in this documentary seem to be. Part of that, I noted, indeed one of the most crucial parts, is firmly being unwilling to marry outside one’s faith and being absolutely committed to raising one’s children within one’s faith. The inevitable pushback to these ideas never ceases to amaze me. Yet, it’s the only way that any type of sustainable restoration is going to happen. This is one of the reasons I think it’s so important that we establish in-person, geographically distinct communities where we can practice our traditions and raise our children in ways that reinforce our religious and cultural values. Religion doesn’t happen without culture and right now, we’re all living and working in a post-modern culture deeply antagonistic toward the very idea of Gods and devotion and especially toward challenging the status quo in the way that true restoration would do.

One of the biggest push-backs I get on the subject of marrying within one’s faith is that the pool of viable mate-material is sadly very small and scattered. This is true. See my point above. In the facebook conversation about this documentary, someone also mentioned the sad fact that finding a “Pagan” man/woman who isn’t an “utter loon” can seem a downright impossibility. (Maybe it’s time good, devout polytheists reclaimed the word ‘Pagan,’ away from non-theists, new agers, atheists, and the terminally confused). That it is difficult does not change the fact that it is essential. It’s less of a problem when one is not planning to have children, though even there being what some Christians term ‘unequally yoked’ can be problematic; but when one plans on having children, issues of religion and religious upbringing that may not have seemed a problem when it was just the couple, quite often become a divisive issue. I’d go so far as to say that if one must marry a non-polytheist, have a pre-nup that specifically states the children will be raised polytheist. I’m a big fan of marriage contracts. So many issues can be countered by a well thought out marriage contract.

I think it also challenges us to re-evaluate what we think the purpose of marriage might be. In a tribe, a unified community with a shared tradition of piety and faith, it’s not just about the happiness of the two people involved (though that is an important factor to consider). Marriage is the building block of a healthy civilization and it ensures uninterrupted transfer of one’s tradition to the next generation. It’s there to unify houses and strengthen the community, to provide for the next generation, and to be a stabilizing force within the community. In a healthy community, I’d actually support arranged marriages (provided no one was forced. That arrangement would, of course, involve consultation with elders, diviners, senior family members, careful evaluation of compatibility, goals, working out of the dowry, etc. and the marriage contract). This is not to say that everyone must have children – far from it. Those who choose to remain happily child free have important roles to play within the community as well. I would think that even if one was not planning to have children, one would not wish to be unequally yoked to a non-polytheist if one could help it. Our generation may have no choice but I’m thinking ahead to future generations, to fully functioning communities, to the restoration of tribes and traditions and what it will be like then. Furthermore, the non-polytheist (in polytheist-monotheistic marriages) must submit to polytheism. After all, unlike monotheism, there’s nothing in polytheism that says they can’t worship their Gods but to reject the Gods wholesale is to challenge the very foundations of a community and that community is more important than individual needs and happiness.

The other issue brought up was that there are different polytheisms and then the question arises of which one gets elided. This is easy to answer: neither. There are more parallels between the various polytheisms than there are between that and secularists or monotheists. I think that within polytheism, if we look at how it was practiced in the ancient world, there was zero conflict in honoring the Gods of two different *polytheistic* traditions. Neither would have to be diluted. but there’s a huge breech between polytheism and monotheism in outlook and an even bigger one between that and secularism. It’s a question of shared worldview rather than specifically shared Gods, one of shared worldview and religious values.

That being said, when it comes to polytheism vs monotheism, all religions are not the same and frankly, we should consider our own to be the best and most necessary. They’re not interchangeable. If we are devoted to our Gods and committed to practicing our traditions for those Gods then it should, in a rightly ordered mind, be absolutely unthinkable to raise one’s children any other way.

I think the push back against these two ideas really shows us how far we still have to go in building communities and restoring our traditions. There is a necessary shift in worldview that happens when one is rooted fully within one’s polytheism. That polytheism becomes the lens through which everything else is viewed and the thing that delineates our priorities. It’s a very different way of living than what we’ve been raised with in monotheisms within a secular state. We will never have proper restoration and reconstruction until this is no longer an issue, until it will be unthinkable to either marry outside polytheism or raise our children outside of it. We struggle now because we lack intergenerational transmission of tradition, well, this is precisely how that intergenerational transmission happens: by marrying within the religions and by raising children within them. There is no other way, short of conquest and forced conversion, and I don’t think anyone wants to do that.

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Posted on October 12, 2018, in community, Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Traditional Polytheist and commented:
    A beautiful post by Galina Krasskova. I am reposting not really to spread the word (because I am certainly less known) but only to emphasize that I am extremely pleased to see this view laid out, which I share strongly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Jews are a noble people who, in spite of so much oppression, have kept their ways. Their only means was community and devotion–nothing more. Surely we can be do as much one day. Imagine a documentary about a community of polytheists…Great Gods, how beautiful would it be to witness it. I dare say it would even really be interesting to outsiders. I refuse to believe this won’t happen in my lifetime…I know of a polytheist Irish community in Roscommon, where children (many, by the way) are raised with native language, customs and mythology. Even though they are isolated and little know, I have heard from a member of that community (who is a friend on Facebook) that they will be putting up a website sometime. This sort of inspiration is sorely needed. To that end also, I have intended for some time past to interview someone in the Hindu community here in the suburbs of St Louis in hopes that I would learn something. This post will accelerate my effort to do so. Once again, thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It should surprise no one that I agree…and I’m committed to remaining single if my long-term partner is not a polytheist of some sort, or at very least non-aligned but not against polytheism. (But that’s another set of stories!)

    I suspect that a HUGE reason, or set of reasons, for some of these debates being as divisive as they are is entirely cultural (in one case) and negatively religious (in the other):

    1). There is the idea that “love conquers all” and that having a relationship is one of the most important and fulfilling things one can have in one’s life that we are bombarded with in all facets of our culture on the popular level, and on many other levels and in several other contexts as well. Thus, why would one want to limit oneself based on something as “arbitrary” as religion in potential partner choices, so the thinking goes, particularly when so many stories of “forbidden love” that the community or one’s family does not approve of has such cultural and moral merit currently (and for the last 150-ish years). Because having such a requirement as a “deal-breaker” comes off as being biased to many people, they react allergically to even the suggestion of such a notion.

    2). Because so many of us were raised with religions that we did not like, that did not work for us, and that held nothing of value for us (or far less of value than it did of detriment, etc.), and we were likewise “forced” to do that because of our parents, at least while we were living with them (and were often pressured to conform in these ways and attend church, etc., when home from college or on vacation/visiting them, etc.), and how oppressive many of us have found this situation, that again we react viscerally and allergically against the idea of doing so, in the “let’s not be hypocrites” and “Golden Rule for Polytheists” notions, which are nice ideals, but in terms of some things don’t really work out.

    On the latter, it is interesting to see how often we will maintain high standards that are “deal-breakers” around things like racism (i.e. “I will not marry a racist”), homophobia (i.e. “I will not marry a homophobe”), etc., all of which are very good negative qualifications to have in one’s choice of partners…but, any positive qualifications, i.e. “requirements,” are seen as limiting and biased and so forth, even though any of the above could be reclassified as positive qualifications if one were to choose to do such.

    Anyway, all of he above is probably obvious to most readers, but it should probably be said anyway, so at least one can consider if these attitudes are present in oneself at all, and–more importantly–to examine why they’re present, and if there is any way to overcome them or reconsider them if one’s polytheism is really as much of a priority as one might say it is.

    Liked by 5 people

    • that’s a really good point about negative vs. positive requirements…

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    • Aediculaantinoi–Your observations are sharp and not so obvious to most, I would imagine. Both points are manifestations of individualism, in the first case an egocentric projection of oneself onto a romantic story, and in the second, isolation resulting from the harsh experiences of the past. And yet the latter case can still become a form of self-love, if carried on too far. On the other hand, community is the truest and best way for individual realization and stability. Marriages out of them don’t last, nor do religious practices, at least in quality. One thing more: your point about positive and negative qualifications is really accurate, and I notice it too often–I don’t know how else to classify such a poor way of thinking except by calling it “Protestant pessimism”.

      P.S. I find myself in the same condition of being single, but I am still 26, four years short of Aristotle and Hesiod’s ideal age for a man! It gives me some more time to find (and earn) the right Hellenic woman.

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      • “Protestant pessimism”–yes, I think you’re 100% right on that, and it’s a good description of what that tendency reflects (i.e. “We’re not ritualistic like the Catholics, we don’t have a focus on works like the Catholics,” etc.). It’s kind of a funny thing that “negative theology” is now seen as a good thing (though that tendency has been there for a while) in monotheist circles, i.e. one cannot say what God “is,” but it is more possible to say what God “is not,” whereas the rather New Age-ish tendency of popular culture is to want to positively identify with things, with ideas, with people and qualities and so forth, rather than to define oneself “against” something in an adolescent fashion or to phrase things negatively…and yet, nonetheless, here we are.

        Looking for consistency, though, is a losing game with popular culture and popular sentiments in general. 😉

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    • Hello, brilliant thoughts, really not obvious to me! May be you could expand on those topics and write a little more on this… you might even be doing a service to others! Regards

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  4. thetinfoilhatsociety

    I think many forget that marriage is, first and foremost, a legal contract. It is a contract both between the individuals marrying and between them and the community. The contract gives legitimacy to the marriage bed. It provides for progeny and legacy. It’s not about love, at least not the way modern sensibilities understand it. Which is, at least in part, why so many marriages end in divorce today.

    One of the chief things our ancestors understood is that the spiritual aspect is essential to any legal duty. I think once we understand that mostly, women are the keepers and tenders of the spiritual aspects of the children and family, the rest will fall into place. On the other hand, maybe I’m just speaking from my hope rather than reality.

    I had made a post some time ago about Jewish people and their adherence to tradition but I deleted it due to accusations of anti-semitism. I still think the point stands. And I notice that you agree that looking to a tribe that is both ethnic and religious is a productive exercise.

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  5. Thank you for sharing that video. There is a lot there (and in your post) for us to learn from and be inspired by.

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  6. I’m glad that not wanting children gives me a bit more wiggle room on the subject of marriage. Finding a Polytheist woman who I would actually want to marry is almost impossible based on numbers and distribution, and I find most Neopagans and Wiccans to be either intolerable loons or Atheists who want to do the religious equivalent of LARP.

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