At this point in my life, I am 100% certain of a handful of things. Jean jackets are a must-have addition to any wardrobe; power naps including coffee have added years to my life; and first dates are inherently awkward — almost always. When two people meet for the first time there’s a good chunk of time it’s almost required for both to be firmly on their toes. Questions usually range from the most harmless, like "What’s your favorite color, how do you take your coffee (in an IV or by the vat)?" and "What was the last great book you read?" to the more in-depth, such as "How do you identify politically?" "Do you want kids and?" — my recent favorite — "Are you religious?" It’s been only recently that my answer to that last question has become less sheepish. And I felt totally called out then proud when my pastor brought up how modern-day Christians feel about talking about their faith in his last sermon. 21st Century Christians, Methodists especially, seem uncomfortable talking to people about their faith. In my denomination it seems we’d be happier living faith in action, doing service projects and serving in soup kitchens than just talking about our faith. The term “evangelism” has become a negative buzzword and prompts images of well-groomed men in white button-ups and the word “Brother” printed before their names on black name tags coming to your door to ask: “Do you have a moment to talk about Jesus Christ?”
Personally, I believe that you don’t have to be Christian to be a good person. But, if you are Christian, you should probably be a good person. And you should probably not feel shy to identify yourself to people as a Christian. For many years I’ve followed up how I admit to people I’m Christian with a disclaimer like: “But I’m United Methodist. We’re reconciling — accepting of LGBTQIA+ being ordained and in the church community.” Now, with a recent denominational decision, being part of the UMC isn’t exactly synonymous with being accepting anymore, so I say: “My congregation is reconciling. I’m actually co-chairing the reconciling ministries team.” I’ve been sorely tempted to have a shirt made up for first dates with the John Fugelsang quote “If you wanna be a believer, great. If you wanna be an atheist, great. Just don’t be a dick. It's really simple.” emblazoned across it.
Am I religious? Read the shirt. Check. But, it’s really not that simple, is it? No. And it shouldn’t be. If you truly believe in your faith, you shouldn’t be afraid to share it. I have been fortunate to have learned so much about myself and what I believe in my foray back into singlehood. And, just as I’ve learned that the right person will find my “strong personality” attractive, I’ve also learned that to the right person my passion for my faith and the good my faith community can do and has done is attractive. Passion — for life, for your career, for your faith — is hot. Period. Not to say that’s the reason to be more open about your faith on first dates, but I would encourage everyone meeting a possible paramour for the first time to be so forthcoming about who you are it’s infectious.
Be you. After all, that person did sign up for a date with you, not with the condensed Reader’s Digest, socially acceptable version of you. There is more to you and your beliefs than 140 characters or the brief, eye-catching bio you publish on Tinder with only your best selfies. And if you even remotely think you might have a future with the person you’re meeting, let them know you — even if feels like your story is closer to the size of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” than Christopher Hitchens’ “Mortality.” If your faith is part of who you are, don’t keep it hidden. Let it be part of your story, and not just a footnote. xo B Recommended listening: