Few societies in the modern civilized arouse so much interest and wariness as the Freemasons. Partly because of their elaborate ceremonies but mainly because of all the secrecy associated with the association, Freemasons are sometimes misunderstood even in these liberal times. So if you have been dating a guy and have found him sporting a Masonic ring, here are a few things you can go through before throwing a ruckus.
He will need space of his own
The Freemasons are a close-knit group who closely follow certain rituals and ceremonies known only to the members. This has given them a reputation for being a secret society and involved in suspicious activities if not actively working out conspiracies across the world. The truth is in fact far from such half-baked notions. On its website, the United Grand Lodge of England, the oldest and most respected Lodge in the world and the cradle of modern Freemasonry, denies being a secret society at all. It is not like your partner’s identity as a Freemason is supposed to be under wraps as well as the places and times of meetings forbidden to be known. And yet if your boyfriend is a Freemason, you might as well come around to the fact that certain aspects of his life will be restricted to you. Your boyfriend may leave for meetings where he will not be able to take you along. This is because the meetings inside a Masonic Lodge and the rituals and ceremonies are usually closed to non-members, which includes you. However the only really secret thing about your partner may be his rather fancy and complicated Masonic handshake which is part of his “traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason when visiting a lodge where he is not known”.
Despite many rituals and ceremonies that are closed to non-members, Freemasons are really secularists at heart. Apart from being an adult man, there is just one essential qualification necessary to become a Mason and this is a belief in a Supreme Being, according to the United Grand Lodge of England. One can be from any country, economic background, lineage or religion and yet join a Masonic association. Thus if you have a boyfriend who is a Freemason, you are likely to benefit from a secular and liberal world view, one which is not bound by narrow views on race, religion and class. Indeed in a paper titled Masonry's Love/Hate Relationship with Esoteric Traditions, Jay Kinney who is also the Librarian and Director of Research for the San Francisco Scottish Rite Bodies writes that Freemasons believe that people from different religions can “share a brotherhood, despite their theological differences -- as long as they believed in God, Who was neutrally called the Great Architect of the Universe.”
Opposed by the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church has never been able to come around to the religious secularity that the Freemasons hold supreme. As part of a long papal tradition denouncing the group, the Catholic Church dubbed Freemasonry “the kingdom of Satan” in Pope Leo XIII’s Humanum Genus. This tradition of ignorance continues till today as proven by the fact that the bulletin Quaesitum est issued in 1983 and written by Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI, expressly denies Holy Communion to Catholics who join Masonic lodges. This is because they have been misinterpreted as anti-clerical, an attitude which goes back to the early belief in the separation of church and state. Thus if you are a strict Catholic girl or hold Catholic views close to your heart, dating a Freemason may put you in direct conflict with your religious beliefs. Even if you are not a Catholic yourself, but come from a Catholic family, be mentally prepared for some kind of opposition from your parents to the person you are dating.
Closed to women
Along with its secretiveness, another aspect which may rankle you when dating a Freemason is that the major orders are closed to women. The most important Masonic orders do not admit women in their folds for the primary reason that interaction with women in a ritual context is not permitted under the Masonic principles. An association that completely bars one-half of a population may seem completely wrong to many and you may have similar misgivings about the beliefs of your partner. However there are certain orders associated with the major Masonic orders that admit women and that have their own variation on the secret handshake and other rituals, such as Order of the Eastern Star and Order of the Amaranth. So if you are extremely keen on following your partner’s footsteps, you may explore such orders which allow women to become members. However the major Masonic orders are quite strict about keeping women out and if you are serious about your partner, you better get used to the fact that you will not be accompanying him on his Masonic meetings.
Not a cult
While dating a Freemason may require to you to be understanding of your partner’s beliefs, you should not harbour undue suspicions about his associations. For a long time, Freemasons have suffered bad press about being a cult-like organization when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. A cult can be defined as an association that is easy to join, difficult to leave and which revolves around the blind worship of a single, dominant figure. Freemasons on the other hand can leave whenever they want, though it is not easy to join then. Most importantly there is no single, global governing body regulating and ordering the Freemasons of the world which is why they can keep their secular and unique form. In fact the major Masonic orders of the world have their own signs, symbols and rituals while following a shared set of very basic principles.
Thus the Freemasons are not a scary, power-hungry cult of some kind intent on world dominion. Rather they are liberal, secular people who are deeply generous and motivated by wisdom and knowledge. If you can respect these principles while allowing your partner the space he needs to practice his beliefs, there is no reason why you cannot have a successful relationship with a Freemason.