In a followup to my last post, where I discussed an interesting theology presented to me by a romantic interest, I have some more interesting news.
To recap: I’m seeing a religious black girl who worships Jesus as a personal savior, but is non-religious, secular, and, paradoxically, believes in other gods. To expand on my previous post, she accepts the existence of any god you throw at her. The millions of gods in Hinduism, for example, are real, but they are not her god. Her inclusive beliefs about other deities—upon further conversation—sum up her views on people who don’t follow Jesus; all religions are true.
When the topic came up I informed her I’m not religious, but refused to use the A-word because of previous bad luck. I figured I’d get to know her a little better first because atheism in the black American community can be a major obstacle to overcome.
But yesterday I had her over for dinner, and she asked the question.
Are you an atheist?
My heart stopped, and I fumbled over my words for what felt like minutes, even though only a few seconds passed. We were in the middle of preparing a meal, and I worried that if I confessed my theological position, the food would remain half cooked, and the meal would be over before it even began. This is not an irrational fear. I mean I really like this woman, and I’ve lost many relationships during their infancy by uttering that one ominous word. And I’ve only ever dated one black atheist because every other black woman I’ve courted has ranked faith fairly high. Anyway, I begrudgingly answered because previous experiences do not necessarily dictate the present or the future.
“Yes, I don’t believe in god,” I was finally able to say.
I was surprised by her response.
“It’s not like it matters, I just wanted to know,” she said with a nonchalance that confirmed the words she was speaking.
In other words, her inclusive beliefs about all supernatural beings doesn’t exclude a void of god either. Her open-mindedness about people with other faiths leaves plenty of room for people without faith. And even though I disagree with her about the existence of all of the gods she believes in, I cannot help but offer her the utmost respect for her position.
I think some religious people could take a cue from her. I don’t mean they should accept the existence of any god; I mean they should accept the different opinions as being unimportant, especially in interpersonal relationships, even if they vehemently disagree. Her response to me—“It’s not like it matters”—was beautiful, and she’s right. Whether or not I believe in Jesus, Zeus, or any other god—or no god—doesn’t matter when forming relationships.
Now I just have to confess to her that I’ve written about her here. Thankfully, I think she’ll agree with these posts about her and enjoy reading them.
I’m glad you’ve found someone who is accepting.
Her beliefs remind me of the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods. It essentially presents all gods as being real to the extent that people believe in them. As long as someone believes, they are real. As belief wanes, the gods grow old and eventually die.
I think that attitude is quite widespread here. Not that the gods necessarily exist, but belief in God or gods is as valid as not believing and any form of deity. For the vast majority, what one believes, is of no importance to a relationship. It might matter to those at the extreme end of religious fundamentalism, but fortunately they are not so common in this part of the world. To be honest, I find it difficult to understand why one would be reluctant to admit to being an atheist.
I’m curious what you mean by your romantic interest worshipping Jesus, but not being religious. I find it difficult to understand how one could worship a deity or the supernatural without being religious.