Melissa wanted the big church wedding and even though I had no interest in ever stepping foot inside of a church again, I agreed because I knew how important it was to her. The father of one of her friends was a preacher and we approached him as our first choice.
We went to the man’s lavish home, sat down with him and shared some hot tea while he asked us a series of questions. When he asked what denomination we were, I told him that I was Baptist because I felt it would elicit a more positive response than confessing to my being an Agnostic or Atheist. Everything seemed to be going very well until he refused to perform the ceremony and escorted us to the door.
Melissa’s friend followed us into the yard apologizing for her father’s behavior saying “he can be a real hard ass sometimes” but we told her there was no need to apologize and that we knew it wasn’t her fault he rejected us.
So what was it that convinced him to refuse our request? Part of me felt like it was my fault for being the quintessential rocker. He, just as other so-called Christians, judged me before I ever spoke a word unable to get past the long hair or the stereotypical beliefs that come along with it.
Maybe he didn’t believe I was Baptist, even though most of my years spent in church had been under Baptist beliefs. I wanted to believe in God or any higher power for that matter but all I ever seemed to find was mankind and our society wasn’t even close. The only real Christian I knew was my Aunt Helen. The rest either didn’t bother with the façade of finding religion or chose to only believe in God while in church where they would put on their Sunday best behavior only to revert to who they really were for the rest of the week. I had more respect for those who remained true than the fakes that played Christian dress-up at the Sunday fashion shows.
That’s when I got slapped in the face by my own hypocrisy I wasn’t any better than the fakes that I despised after going into the man’s home and lying to his face hoping to give him the answers he wanted to hear. I prided myself on being honest and direct with people and realizing how low I had just stooped left a very bad taste in my mouth. I needed to get off of my knees and let everyone know where I stood.
Melissa’s family went to church on a semi-regular basis at the behest of her mother. Much unlike the first preacher who gave his sermons in a stained glass palace, the second preacher practiced in a small country church where “Sunday Best” meant wearing a button down shirt, slacks and a pair of nice shoes.
Melissa and I decided to approach him as our second choice. He wanted to meet with us in his office and proceeded to ask us a series of questions similar to those we were asked before but this time, my answers were very different.
I told him about my father dying when I was six and my mother when I was sixteen. I told him of friends I had lost in high school. The first was a popular honor student that was a member of several “school pride” clubs and all around likeable guy until the day he decided to kill both of his parents with a shotgun in their home before turning the gun on himself. The second was a pregnant girl working at a fast food restaurant when her boyfriend walked in, pulled out a gun and shot her at the register. I never knew him and can’t remember if he killed himself afterward or was taken to prison. The third was a friend driving home from work late one night when he lost control of his truck, rolled it and was killed instantly. And finally, there was my friend that choked on his own vomit at a party while people stood around and let him die.
Then we talked about the fake Christians, people that pretended to be doing Gods will but only on Sundays, if nothing else took priority. I told him that I had seen too many “people of faith” acting like assholes except when commanded to be on their best behavior. And how they seemed to use the word of God as a convenience or the devil made me do it as an excuse.
We talked of God’s plan and I asked how can there be plans by a higher entity if mankind is given the choice of free will? Was God’s plan to allow us the freedom to make our own decisions and watch the world burn or was that the devil that made us do it? I confessed my own sins and the decisions I had made in my life. Then I asked if we are given free will, why should we give thanks to God for the good in our life or blame the devil for the bad? We either have free will with no higher power guiding us or we are pawns in a universal chess match.
Of course he had an answer for everything and always came back to the bible for those answers quoting verse after verse. But I wasn’t there for a theological debate with the man and I told him so. I knew that the Bible brought him comfort and that was good but for me it was just an old book written by superstitious men searching for easy answers. I had read it but found no comfort and needed to reaffirm my faith in mankind before I could believe in anything greater.
And finally he asked, “What do you believe in?”
I responded by telling him that I believed in truth. I believed in honesty and helping others in need instead of turning my back on them. “In the end, it’s about trying to be a good person, not because the Bible tells me so or fear of eternal damnation but because the world already has enough assholes in it.”
Melissa was quiet during the majority of the conversation and I don’t know if she was in shock that I had been so frank with the family preacher, thought I was completely out of my mind or wondering what she had gotten herself into but after all was said and done, the preacher agreed to marry us.
The truth was all I ever needed to make that happen. Well that and the additional fees for him to perform the ceremony of course.