What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Danes, religion and infidelity

The ongoing debate in the Danish blogosphere about what is and is not compatible with religious beliefs makes me wonder... is infidelity compatible with being a Danish 'national church christian' ('folkekirkekristen')?

Infidelity is certainly something that Danes practice. Many couples have open relationships or a sex life which embraces infidelity. Or some people simply practice infidelity the old-fashioned way; sleeping around in secrecy.

As I see it 'twosomeness' is at the core of Christianity - also in the version of the Danish public church. Marriage is the most significant ceremony which the public church has to offer: It forges two people together for eternity (or at least a very long time) and in this union they are suppose to be faithful to each other. This is the vow you take when you say 'yes' in church.

I am an atheist and will leave the public church soon - for that reason. My personal point of view is that infidelity is bad if you hurt other people by indulging in it. So I do not have any moral objections to swinger clubs or open relationships.

However, I still wonder: We have a society in which infidelity is extensively practiced. The traditional version of 'twosomeness' does not really seem to apply to the life styles of many Danes. Infidelity is often practiced without regret. But at the same time many of these Danes call themselves 'folkekirkekristne'. What does it then mean to practice a religion or to have a public church? How far can you remove yourself from the basic principles of a religion and still call yourself a believer?

My guess is that a majority of Danes share my point of view: Infidelity is accepted as long as no one gets hurt. They do not all practice infidelity themselves, but that is out of consideration for their partners and not particularly to honour the holy 'twosomeness' of Christianity. If this is the case then most Danes are not really Christians in my view. Which leads me to my last question: If Danes are not convinced of the basic principles of Christianity why should Denmark then have a public church?

1 comment:

Cecilie said...

My impression of Christianity is that it is, literally, the most forgiving of the monotheistic religions. You can pretty much get away with anything as long as you believe in and love God. Jesus himself seemed very intent on breaking down practical rules to establish a more abstract church in the heart of the believer, and that's what, to me, really sets it apart from the more sharia-based Judaism and Islam. I know very little about Judaism, that's why I'm using the term sharia, because it seems that in Judaism, the deal is that you do certain things, and then you get into Heaven. In Islam, sharia means that the government, family, and other superhuman entities enforce the moral code - so that, for instance, a woman won't get into Heaven if she cheats, but she will if she's stoned for it by her village, because then she's received her punishment (immediately) before her death. Society takes on the role of God, which makes it impossible to regulate anything but actions. In Christianity, however, repentance is an option.

Another thing that seems to me to be central in Christianity is that part of loving God is to love thy neighbor. That must mean that the basic point is to not hurt another human being. And then the focus is on whether or not your partner is okay with what you do, and not the act itself. That's how I understand the word infidelity as well: sleeping with someone else with your partner's permission is fidelity, because it doesn't break any kind of bond of trust and respect between the two.

- Cecilie