If he asks you to change your religion for him, say no.
The man you are with asks you to change your religious beliefs before you can be in an official relationship: what do you do?
a.) Change your beliefs for love
b.) Try and understand his religion
c.) Freak out because he asked you to change everything you believe in
d.) Leave him
e.) All of the above
I answered e.) all of the above because for the past year, I have struggled with: religion, self-esteem, identity, and self-worth because a man I loved asked me to be Christian, and it took me a year to say no.
Christianity is one of the largest religions on the planet. Its influences are boundless: in society, culture, and government. The foundations of our history and education system are rooted in influences by the Christian church.
It shapes both dark and beautiful moments in history, and knowledge of the Christian faith is inevitable and culturally inescapable in Western Society.
About two months into seeing each other, he asked me if I was willing to explore Christianity. He defended it, saying that he was at a point in his life that he couldn’t be with anyone who wasn’t Christian.
I know at this crossroad most people would have taken the first exit out of this relationship. But I was following my heart, not my head. I asked friends for advice, had conversations with pastors and joined a weekly Catholic church group, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around what was missing. Maybe it was the feeling of spiritual connection? Maybe even the ‘Love’, that people experience when they pray to God?
It seems that when religion makes sense to an individual, it is common for the individual to feel Enlightenment. Some say it is a spiritual connection that cannot be made sense of. It can be created, shaped, it can grow and shrink, but after all of my conversations and consultations, I learned that it cannot be faked.
I learned about the Bible, interpretations of birth, death, evolution, and God’s history. But a lingering feeling in the back of my mind was that despite all my effort to try and understand Christianity, the only reason why I was looking into it in the first place was for him. Not ‘Him’ a.k.a. God, but him: the man I was in love with and the man I wanted to be with.
I asked why my recently married friend had converted to Christianity. Was it for his wife who was Christian? Was it because of love? Was it because of God?
He told me that believing in God made more sense than anything else. He visited youth groups at his university and the other students helped him reconcile with the content that he was still unsure of.
The contents of the Bible he maybe didn’t agree with became things that he realized others in the youth group didn’t agree with either. But the essence of “being unsure with Christianity” or “issues in the Bible” contributed to their Christian identity.
But when I met the other youth members, my community was predominantly those who believed in religion since childhood. There were those raised in the Church, and those who’d come to religion because of their spouses.
When religion is the sanctuary of the many fallen and broken people on this planet, it makes sense that so many people would turn to religion as a way to explain and understand the world.
Four months later, when he asked me again if down the road I could be Christian, I thought about answering, “Yes.” But it didn’t feel honest to me, or even to God.
If I were going to be a Christian I’d want the label to be at least true. What is a “True Christian”? and how can I call myself a Christian if everyone is interpreting it in different ways?
There really is no right answer to that last question, but it took me a year to realize that I’d let someone influence how I shape who I am. The definition for a True Christian varies, but I knew I didn’t want to hold the label ‘Christian’ without being true to its meaning.
Today we tell our young women to be strong, independent and to trust their own voices. But in this moment I’d lost my voice to someone else. I forgot I was strong, independent, beautiful and intelligent. I sought validation from someone else and, perhaps, Christianity was all it took to achieve that validation, but in doing so I sacrificed my “true self” to explore the ever elusive identity of a “True Christian.”