I admit: I’ve faked it.
Nope. Guess again. I’m talking about faking religion.
I just read an opinion piece in the New York Times about a couple in Texas who fakes religion to ensure their children have play dates. And it got me thinking about my own religious fake.
It was 2006, I was living in a small Tennessee town, and I had just begun seeing an interesting man. At that point, I’d only had one “semi-serious” relationship, and I was excited that someone in this pathetic town of white-haired people was near my age and interested in me.
During our initial conversation, I found out he used to be a youth minister. So on our first date, I broke from my usual rules and brought up religion.
“I’m not religious,” I told him. “I went to Sunday School and church camp as a kid, and I was raised with basic Christian beliefs, but I don’t practice now.”
I figured if it was going to be a problem, I may as well get it out up front. He said it wasn’t an issue. He left the church because he was feeling conflicted about his religious beliefs. After the divorcing the church and his wife, he moved to New York City, where he proceeded to party like a rock star for two years.
He was now in Tennessee, working and living a more normal, balanced life, but he wasn’t practicing religion – or celibacy — which for me, was a green light. I should have known better.
Aside from his baggage as a divorcee, as the months passed, he found God again. So one day he asked me how I felt about religion.
I tried to explain my particular odd brand of spiritual non-religion, which has more to do with the basic principles of goodness and some nature-related paganism than weekly church rituals. Soon, I was single.
What bothered me then: I was honest from the beginning; he was the one who told me it wasn’t a problem. Until it was.
What bothered me later: I told him I’d go to church for him. Before he asked for my specific feelings, I supported his spiritual awakening and tried to be understanding. You know — a good girlfriend. But deep down, I knew I was faking it. And it didn’t feel right.
Strong religious beliefs (and a prior marriage) are now on my list of dating deal breakers.
Now that I read that NYT column, I’m wondering what else we fake for people.
You fake orgasm on that one-night stand, just to get him out the door. I faked religion on a relationship, just to keep him from walking out the door.
During our daily conversations with colleagues, associates, don’t we fake it all the time?
A fake laugh at the off-color joke that we find offensive, just to keep from rocking the boat? A fake half-nod of agreement when someone you know rants about something you think was his or her fault? Fake friendly chit-chat with the coworker who bothers you, just to get along and make work easier?
Considering how short life is, sometimes it’s just easier to fake it.
But, considering how short life is, wouldn’t be easier to be ourselves?