Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. IV
In this ongoing discussion of faith and dating, I polled several people across the spectrum of beliefs and got some interesting responses.
I thought I’d use today’s post to show you one of those replies. (read: stall for time while I collect enough damning evidence…er…unfortunate dating profile photos to use for a winner’s circle posting tomorrow. Hey…I have no shame in letting someone else do the writing/work every once in a while).
Enjoy. Or disagree… Either way – read on!
This is an area that should be important to people of no faith as well as the “super-religious.”
Let me share one assumption first (which is based on way too many years of marriage counseling). Dating is never casual.
We may want it to be, but it is, by nature, an environment that invites the development of romance.
That being said, I think that even early dating decisions should ask the question, “Is there anything about this person that would make a 50 year marriage uncomfortable or unbearable?”
Let’s take an example that is less volatile than traditional religious belief (or absence thereof). If I were single, I might enjoy an evening with a lady who enjoys a good séance now and again even though I think that’s a lot of rubbish. I don’t object to her chatting with her deceased uncle, but I wouldn’t want to spend my life with someone who thinks that Ghost Hunters International represents a spiritual exercise. I wouldn’t want our children to be raised with what seem to me to be odd beliefs, nor would I want to live with all that table tapping (knock once for “yes”, twice for “no”).
Most of us try not to be judgmental about the beliefs of others. Even so, a lifetime with someone whose core beliefs and values originate from a radically different source than our own is a prescription for relational failure.
Having said that, the question still arises as to when to broach so sensitive a topic? Should an atheist wear a T-shirt that says “I don’t need God to be good,” when snapping that all-important profile pic? Should a Pentecostal gal tell her date that she has a “check in her spirit” before he picks up the check on the table?
I understand the reluctance to announce one’s religious beliefs before getting the other person’s last name, but it should certainly be a natural part of the basic “getting’ to know you” chat. “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a religious fanatic. What are your hobbies?” When to approach the topic may vary with the individual. For some, putting some basic faith statement on a profile could be a positive tool to filter out those who are uncomfortable around people of faith. If the profile statement seems like an invitation to stereotyping, the information can be shared on the first date. Unless your date is a mega-dud (not to be confused with “mega-dude”) you will be asked probing questions about your likes and dislikes, dreams, aspirations, and such. If you feel awkward saying “Well, I’m a Christian and active in my church,” maybe you need to deal with your own attitude toward your faith. I’m not sure how an atheist works that into the conversation, but since both people are sharing, I tend to put the onus on the faith adherent.
Dating is a process through which singles invite people to discover their character and their lifestyle. If your faith or dislike of faith is a key part of who you are, you need to disclose it early on. Who wants to fall in love with someone who will later reject so critical a component of one’s life?
Oh, and for the record, falling in love with the intention of converting someone to or away from a particular faith perspective will almost always guarantee ongoing mutual misery.
R. Garment, Pastor & Counselor
There you have one man’s response.
What about you guys? Weigh in, readers!