Faith that threatens
This is Part 9…blah, blah, blah…intro is here.
When my husband and I married I was a Christian in name only and he not even. He had had some minimal involvement in church as a young child, but had spent little if any time since then thinking about spiritual things. Obviously I wasn’t spiritually-minded then either or I wouldn’t have agreed to meet him after he called me on the phone to tell me I had a sexy voice and we talked for several hours in the wee hours of the morning between song intros and station identifications (and here’s that story if you’re interested).
So I’d go to Sunday Mass alone, and that was about the extent of my “religious” activity. My husband (I’ll call him Bob) did not object to this minimal, mostly meaningless distraction, and since my spirituality was pretty much limited to dutiful church attendance (and even that not consistently), he knew he and our children had a lock on my affections. Our relationship was good and our love was strong, and he used to tell me, “Don’t ever change.”
Does going from death to life, darkness to light, an old self to a new creation count as a change? Umm….I would say….yes.
My new interest in studying the Bible and attending a non-traditional church, i.e. non-denominational, had Bob worried right from the start because it was so different from what I had been doing and with his lack of Christian influences dangerously unfamiliar to him. He feared I might be involved in some kind of cult and would soon shave my head and start hanging out at the airport handing out pamphlets.
Though the few times I tried to explain what my newfound faith was all about he listened attentively and seemed to understand, he couldn’t quite dispel the fear that it was going to split us up. He would at times get very suspicious and angry which to me felt completely unwarranted and unfair. And though I tried to see where he was coming from, I know I didn’t fully realize how threatened he felt. Because all he really understood was that my affections were now “unlocked” from him and our kids and extended to Someone else as well. And he couldn’t help but not like it.
One evening Bob called the pastor of the church I was attending to see if he could get some answers (and maybe knock him out cold if they confirmed his fears). And this kind, well-spoken, pleasant preacher (who actually is quite well-known now from his nationwide radio ministry) came to our home and spent three hours reassuring Bob that his wife was in fact not in a cult. And while I fiddled with my son’s toy football, listening carefully but mostly staying out of the conversation, Bob got a clear explanation of the gospel and the Christian faith.
I would like to say that after that Bob and I were on the same page spiritually, or at least in the same book. We can find each other in the religious section of the bookstore anyway, and that’s going to have to do. He’s had to deal with more than he anticipated when he married me but like the get-it-done, find-a-solution kind of guy he is, he persevered through the insecurity and unfamiliarity and made it work. Consequently, the struggles and conflicts have actually strengthened our marriage. So, it’s all good.
Not only did my new faith cause conflict in my marriage, but it created some real tension and hurt feelings with my Catholic parents. That’ll be for next time.