Kari’s father was a minister at our Baptist church. Did I mention our church was Baptist? It was.
I’ve since left the Church (capital C). I guess she, being a pastor’s kid, hasn’t. Which is okay, of course. I had my reasons for leaving, and I’m sure she had her reasons for staying, and neither of us is right or wrong, we’re just different.
Saturday was my first time inside a Baptist church in years. It was a lovely one, as far as Baptist churches go. I think because it was one of the First Baptist variety. Those tend to be fancier than the congregationalist ones that meet inside school gymnasiums and old movie theatres.
Our church growing up was in an abandoned outlet mall. Another reason early ’90s department store decor creeps me the hell out.
There was even some stained glass at this First Baptist church. It was enormous, of course, but still had a somewhat intimate, traditional feel to it. Vaulted, beamed ceilings. I’m not good at measuring distances, but they were very high. Several stories high.
Ever-practical Boyfriend asked me how they change the lightbulbs. I told him they didn’t need to because of God. It was like the menorah.
The service was, of course, extremely evangelical. It was shocking, the way the pastor spoke with such emotion in his voice, like he was about to burst into tears with every word, like Sally Struthers in those commercials talking about saving the children, like he was God himself speaking to us. Maybe he really does think he is.
He emphasized how important it is to have God at the center of a marriage. I began to wonder about my own feelings regarding marriage. How impossible it is. How we’re not built for it. How it’s outdated. How it’s historically misogynistic. How it’s a social construct imposed upon us to propagate the species while maintaining order and civility.
Maybe the thing that was missing from my marriage was God. Maybe marriage really is impossible without Him. But either way I’m not sure I’m willing to try again.
Of all the things, the pastor got the reading of I Corinthians 13 wrong. He said, “Love is not patient, love is not kind.” Then he corrected himself and said, “Love is kind,” but he left the “not patient” hanging out there in the silence.
When he said, “Let’s pray,” the entire congregation bowed their heads except me (an Episcopalian who now often prays by reading words off a page) and Boyfriend (an apathetic Deist who’s attended church only a handful of times in his life, most of them with me).
We sat there with our eyes open, looking straight ahead at all the bare necks in front of us. I wondered when it was I stopped bowing my head. He was probably thinking about his new video game. Which is okay, of course.
We find God in different places, in different ways, all of us. None of us is right or wrong, we’re just different.