I have met few women who are as committed to a belief or a person as a Black Woman. At their best, Black Women will follow you to Mars without Oxygen if she believed in you. At their worst, that blind devotion can cause her to become stiff-necked and stubborn as a mule. Throw religion into the pot, and you will either have eternal nourishment, or a recipe for heartbreak.
Black people have traditionally been a deeply spiritual people in America. Our religious devotion was forged in the crucible of slavery, and even further back into Western and Central Africa. Religion has always been a central pillar of our communities, families and relationships.
Over the last forty years, however, a glacial shift has occurred that jeopardizes our relationships if we don’t address it. Increasing numbers of men (and some women) have abandoned the system of Western Christianity for a more fluid, intuitive understanding called “Spirituality”. There is no definitive creed or belief system, but most Spiritualists will tell you that they believe in God (or a higher power) and the right of humans to choose whatever religious path gives them peace. Oftentimes we will find underlying themes of several religions, and try to live by those.
Enter Black Love, the strongest of all bonds. Or so I thought. We all have heard of the problems that black men and women have finding love, but now there’s a new grievance. Many women say that us men have become less religious and that represents a huge compatibility issue for some. Everything was roses when we were all Good Christians, but nowadays we have Muslims, Christians (Baptists, Evangelicals, Seven-Day Adventists, Jehovahs Witnesses etc), Black Hebrew Israelites, Athiests and every other belief. As if it wasn’t hard enough to find a keeper!
This represents a problem because many women are staunch Christians, while many men are seeking alternative truths or forsaking religion altogether. So when we meet each other, we find that we are compatible socially and emotionally, but talk religion and it’s “check please!”
I have lost several good women that way. I studied History and Religion at the University of Oregon, a liberal college often compared to Cal-Berkely for it’s open-mindedness. In the REL department, we studied religion as a SCIENCE, not a calling. We examined religious texts, explored historical facts, and best of all we were free to draw our own conclusions. As such, I have learned to ask how and why much more than they do in churches. In fact, I graduated with more questions than I started with.
The few women I came closest to proposing to had everything that I value in my women. They were intelligent, beautiful, moral women with an incredible understanding of scripture. But they were raised in the church, which isn’t exactly known for it’s ideological flexibility. We would talk for hours on end about love, life, and especially religion. We even agreed on most ideas. But then we reached an impasse when I would bring up historical or archaeological evidence that contradicts biblical events or scriptures. Eventually, their enthusiasm for me waned, to the point that now we don’t even speak.
Sistas, I love y’all more than you can imagine, but you have to let a man come to God in his own way, in his own time. If Jews and Muslims can marry, Sunni and Shi’a can marry, why can’t we find love- especially since most of us just have different interpretations of the same religion! As a man, I can overlook many different religious ideas in my woman, because I can’t hold my religion at night, but I can hold you. If only we agreed on that.