Religion. Fewer things conspire people to throwing verbal darts and attacking your character faster than religion. As a collegiate student, I was that guy. While I am vehemently capable of defending my own beliefs (or lack thereof), it was during any concourse of religion that I would often make others defend their beliefs. It’s something that most religious people care not to think of. Oklahoma (of where I went to college and have lived a large portion of my life) is the most Christian state in the U.S., and because of that, Christians are safe in that most conversations and forums they partake in, they remain the majority. An interesting observation I have made is that most Christians take personal offense when you question their beliefs. This is significantly different than when you disagree with their politics, or that they party on the weekend. When you question Jesus of Nazareth, you may as well have cast the first stone, as it were.
Allow me to say this, I do not intend to invoke the same tyranny of anti-theism here I was guilty of as a college student. Instead, I wish to portray the perspective and experiences of a non-religious person who has in the past dated Christian girls of varying faith and why I would never do that again. I want nothing more than to lay my experiences bare.
While I was a student in college, I was as liberal as one might be when it came to dating. Political views, race and religion were all up for grabs. If you could hold a good conversation and enjoyed ice cream, I was probably going to try and date you. (So many great candidates unfortunately fell short at the first hurdle). I’ve dated white, black, and Hispanic girls. I’ve dated American, French and Irish girls. I’ve dated atheist, Jewish and Christian girls. It’s the last one specifically that has given me fits of conscious I may yet never recover from.
For years I wanted to write this piece. I wanted to let those who aren’t religious know the mind numbing cancer of religion that can often poison a perfectly good relationship, but for years I couldn’t quite find the most appropriate manner in which to describe what it feels like as a non-believer to date someone who has so aptly given their life to a man two thousand years died (and apparently risen again). I have since discovered this analogy and it’s here I’ll share it with you.
Dating a Christian (girl), is to me, the equivalent of dating a mother, except the child is one whom you will never experience life with, never interact with, and never see grow up. It is being the third wheel in an already fundamentally grounded relationship. It is a problem to which there is no viable solution.
Interestingly enough, two of the three Christian girls I dated–who are are all phenomenal human beings–were the daughters of Evangelical preachers. Perhaps it is no one’s fault than my own to attack the tree at the root. Both circumstances have similar beginnings worth telling: both girls attempted to subvert my “lack of relationship with Christ” by repeatedly dragging me to church with them. It was undoubtedly my hesitant agreement to attend that fueled our relationships. I always attempted to make religion a non-issue in the sphere of these budding relationships. I would avoid the conversation of the afterlife, or the purpose of life at my own chagrin because I understood that–like most Christians settled deep in the Bible Belt–these girls did not like their beliefs challenged.
I hid away my Richard Dawkins’ and Christopher Hitchen’s books so that while browsing my meager library of books my girlfriend wouldn’t discover such titles as “The God Delusion” and “God is Not Great” among my recently read list. I did this because the relationship between two people (in this case, the girl of my affections and myself) was more important than God–some fantastical idea that she revered and I despised.
I intentionally hid my grimace when her father would tell me that I could lead the prayer before dinner, because my girlfriends happiness was more important than my own. You need make no comments about the magnitude of these mistakes, but this additional point must be known: I dispatched of this attitude halfway through these relationships–only to recoil back into after the failure of the first relationship, and my apathy of religion in the second–which caused their end.
These girls, both collegiate athletes and excellent students, hid behind God in defense of bigoted beliefs that often manifested in snide remarks about homosexuals and condemning others to hell. These were girls for whom I was dedicated 100% to, insomuch as that when I was with them–I was with them, but that I felt it was terrifyingly difficult to have a conversation with them without the word God being brought up to explain the severity of one of her teammates daily transgressions.
Being in a relationship with someone who loves Jesus more than they love you is much like it sounds. Replace Jesus with literally any man who is taller and funnier than you and the sickening reality is this: at least that person is real. Jesus died 2,000 years ago. Everyone can relate to the stomach churning anomaly of realizing the idol of your affections has their eyes set on another. Imagine instead that your crush held their affections in reserve for someone who was 2,000 years deceased.
I don’t intentionally intend the awful humor of Judeo-Christian beliefs, but I can not state it simpler. In a moment of genuine regret during my sophomore year of college, I was at a restaurant with one of these two girls, unaware our relationship was only minutes awful from a tumultuous collapse. While discussing choosing a topic for an essay in a political science class, she made the offhand comment that “all the topics we can choose wouldn’t even be a big deal if more people gave their life to Christ.” Among the topics on the list were abortion, the death penalty and gun ownership, per usual.
Neurons fired in my brain and I was unable to hold back the disgusting comment I made only a moment later. “If you love Jesus Christ so much, why don’t you let him fuck you and pay for dinner?”
I never saw her again.
It is no different than dating a parent who comes with a child. Except that when you date a parent who does have a child, any investment they (and you) make, is tangible. It’s real. The person in this circumstance–the child–is full of life and loud and beautiful and disgusting all within a few breaths of each other. The two hours for the Wednesday service, the hour and a half for the early (and sometimes late) service. That wasn’t real, and I’m glad I have the courage not to deal with it now.
Christians I’ve spoken to on this have given me some ironic feedback. “Well, that’s okay,” they’ll tell me. “I would never date an atheist.” I bet you wouldn’t. But why is that? You can’t get over them when they keep telling you NOT to discriminate against same sex marriage? Or when they tell you maybe to quit brandishing your faith as a weapon?
Bonne Journeés, mes amis.