How important is religion for an average Russian woman

Published by Lawrence F. Leon on

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For some reason, there’s a firm belief that Russians covet their religion very much. Now, that’s a nice question if they really do. But in the context of dating, it would be nice to uncover something else. What role does religion play in the life on an average Russian woman? 

True, it’s the 21st century, but you still can’t underestimate religion as a factor in the everyday life of other people. Especially in regards to the culture you rarely, if ever, interact with. 

Let’s see if religion really does play a big role in life on an average Russian woman, why some people came to think so, and how it may affect your relationship with one of them.

How this belief came to be?

What’s important to understand about Russians is that most of the portrayals of them aren’t necessarily true. And it doesn’t only include stereotypes, but also ideas of how they live. Most of them are just outdated or exaggerated. If you choose to believe them, you’ll get a completely wrong picture of the Russian people.

It won’t make it impossible for you to spend time with them, but it may cause some issues understanding them. Not to say that some of these notions may very well be offending. There’s no space to include even some of them, but keep your mind open, and you’ll be fine.

In regards to religion, however, it won’t cause much harm. If something interests or bothers you, you can just ask, most of the time it will only start an interesting conversation. Like in case of religion, for instance.

Why religion seems popular

It’s alright to think that Russians are Orthodox zealots, because of how often the Russian church gets into the center of attention there. They always have something to say, and the opinion of their higher-ups for some reason equals the opinions of esteemed statesmen in a lot of matters.

And if you choose to visit Russia, you may notice the huge amount of churches around. Now, there aren’t really a lot of them. They are just very noticeable due to their perfectly white walls and the gilded domes. All of this doesn’t reflect the real situation with the popularity of faith. 

Because, for one, you don’t have to support the Orthodox church to be religious. Many religious people don’t go to churches, be that for personal reasons or out of principle or beliefs. And then, it’s not really a reliable source to deduce whether people in the area are religious or not.

So, are they religious?

Unless you want to ask your girlfriend how much she likes Christ, there are only a few sources of information left for you: the statistics and the observation. 

The statistical data

The last survey of such sort was conducted 8 years ago. Since then, the entire new generation of dateable people grew up, which makes the data obsolete. But let’s just use what’s available. 

It was a distant 2012, and about 75% of the population of Russia said they were Orthodox Christian. Despite this, only 54% of them even read the Bible. Plus, as specialists of demographics said, only 18 to 20 percent of people visit the church at least once a year. Add to that an already known fact that not all of the Christians fell bound to visit the Church.

And also don’t forget that not all ethnic Russians practice Orthodoxy. Some of them are atheists or agnostics, that’s easy, they don’t care. On the other hand, there are Protestants and even Catholics, especially in communities outside of Russia. Religion plays a role in their life, but they aren’t Orthodox.

It would be easy to just to the conclusion right now, but there are also things in the lives of Russians that you can observe by yourself. But since you probably don’t have the opportunity, listen to the observations already made before you.

Image of lady in church

The observation

Above in this text, there was a remark that judging the religiousness of people around by the number of churches in the vicinity isn’t very wise. It’s a different kind of observation. In that case, you wouldn’t be able to because there are lots of factors you simply don’t know.

The kind of observation here is more personal. Get people of your ‘preference’ to know you, hang out with them and see if they are genuinely religious. What you’ll get is an interesting answer.

Most of the Russians in their early 20s don’t care very much for religion, it’s not abnormal. However, many consider themselves Orthodox Russians, at the same time not visiting the church or reading the Bible. Moreover, they may follow some religious rituals and celebrate some religious holidays.

The reason behind this is that faith is strongly bound to Russian culture. In many ways how Catholicism is bound to the Irish culture. Many of them aren’t even Catholics anymore, and yet they celebrate St. Patrick’s. Russians. In addition to the celebrations people in Russia enjoy:

— A neat language, many elements of which came from Greek in highly Christian style. There are still words in Russian that sound very archaic;

— Customs and traditions. These have a lot to do with the celebrations as well. Many of them, however, broke away from their religious meaning;

— Behavior, within the realm of argument. Russian peasants, who made up a staggering majority of the Russian population, always lived in poverty. At the same time, religion was deeply embedded in them. This, being generous even in times of need, kind and humble has become not only a Christian virtue but the popular wisdom. Many still, even if unconsciously, follow this wisdom

All in all, even apart from the more everyday examples like these above, the Russian culture borrowed a lot from the dogmas of the Orthodox Church. People lived accordingly to the religious calendar, religious schedule and religious rituals for a very long time. Even long into the Soviet era, many peasants didn’t give up these beliefs.

It’s probably why many Russians are still very conservative, if not to say outdated. 

How it may affect your relationship?

It all depends on how religious your girlfriend is. If you take an average Russian woman in her early 20s, then she isn’t very much, as mentioned. The older a person gets, however, the more inclined to the religion she gets. In any case, it’s not hard to see for yourself.

In large part, it doesn’t matter. Even if you’ll date a very religious person, your life won’t change significantly. All the ancient taboos and intolerance aren’t relevant today, it’s 21st century after all. All the other peculiarities will be the same as if you dated a religious person from any other country.

Your own religion

Image of a normal relationship

The interesting topic, however, is the interplay between Russian Orthodoxy and other religions. You could expect this to be a harsh subject because Russians aren’t really famous for being tolerant. Despite this, they are tolerant to most religions.

Russia is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. If there were tensions between different churches, they aren’t any longer. Not with local Muslims, Jews or other Christians. There is even a religious Buddhist minority in some of the more exotic Russian provinces.

A lot of Russians are moderately positive towards Islam, at any rate. This is the faith that contacted the Orthodoxy the most. They are ready to tolerate a lot from Muslims. 

The family of your partner, however, may not be so eager to bless the relationship, if you’re a Muslim, especially if you’re very religious. Many very religious Muslims want to convert their spouses to their ways. And whilst she may not be opposed to it (if you managed to win her heart somehow), and you may not even want it, the family doesn’t know for sure.

Conversion means a sharp cultural shift, something people aren’t very enthusiastic to witness in their family. Not from a Muslim, not from anyone else. This is the only touchy subject in this whole topic. Forced cultural shifts are never well-welcomed. 

In conclusion

It really is a touchy subject, but keep in mind that it’s still the 21st century. People rarely put religion in front of everything else nowadays. It may have been truly important some 300 years ago, but now your confession is all but secondary. It can’t affect your relationship in any big way. It may, however, cause issues if you don’t treat it seriously enough. 

But if you want to learn about something less touchy, you can always explore the other articles on this website, maybe they’ll help. And as always, there’s also a helpful video in case you got bored reading:

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