When Nick and I met up for our second date (the aforementioned “fun” walk in the park), it was blessedly only 97 degrees outside – not even triple digits! It was perfect walking weather such that my foundation only partially melted off of my face. I had chosen a preppy-but-athletic look, sporting a bright pink tank top with black running shorts and sparkly stud earrings (seriously, girls, what do you wear for a date like this?!). I will say that Nick looked good in his black athletic tee and basketball shorts, although I’m not sure how he didn’t sweat to death.
He had arrived at the park nearly twenty minutes early and, for some unknown reason, felt the need to text me to let me know that he was already there. I, of course, then felt rushed and stressed as I dashed home from work to change and then got back behind the wheel to drive to the park in rush hour traffic. Needless to say, my greeting smile was a bit forced as I screeched into a parking spot next to the walking trail.
We had a nice conversation at first, with Nick telling me about his kids at school (classes started this week) and some of his hobbies (fishing and volunteer work). But the conversation turned sour when Nick asked me about my hobbies. I have an engineering degree but love the arts – music, painting, dancing, etc. So I told Nick about one of the paintings I’m working on now, and then I started raving about Akiane Kramarik, a child prodigy who has painted a beautiful portrait of Jesus.
Nick interrupted me mid-sentence and blurted out, “She painted Jesus?” As such a zealous Christian, I thought he would be pleasantly intrigued, but his tone was accusatory as he went on, “That’s idolatry. Don’t you know we’re not supposed to make graven images?“I was taken aback. As someone raised in the church, I am familiar with the Ten Commandments, but I thought Nick’s approach was extreme. The purpose of that commandment was that followers of God worship Him only and not other false gods (e.g. Baal), man-made images (worshiping the created instead of the Creator), or – as in Jesus’ New Testament teachings – more intangible idols like the love of money.
To call a painting of Jesus idolatry is ridiculous. It’s true that if the viewers worshipped the painting itself, that would be idolatry, but Akiane painted that image as an act of worship to Jesus himself! She was honoring God, not insulting him, through her use of these phenomenal God-given talents. Akiane and artists like her glorify God when they turn their gifts back to Him in praise.
I didn’t want to get into a fight, but I stood my ground calmly and rationally. Nick has more of a passionate, intense, emotion-based style, so he attacked me verbally, not even stopping for breath so that I could get a word in to counter his onslaught. “Contentious” was the word that came to mind as I looked at his contorted face.
As he ranted on, in my head, I thought, “Look, punk. I was raised in the church, am the granddaughter of a pastor, have led multiple bible studies, have done mission work on five continents, and even went to seminary. Just stop now because you are blatantly wrong.” But externally, I let him get it out of his system while I watched the clouds drift by, pink-rimmed by the brilliant sunset, and imagined how I would paint them.
Nick clearly didn’t have ears go hear the truth, so I didn’t bother to disagree later in the evening when he told me: a) who and what I should and should not pray for, b) what Christian women should and should not wear, and c) what my relationship “red flags” should and should not be. I think I’ve certainly got that last one down, and dude, you’re sunk.
Well-intentioned but Pharisee-like Christians such as Nick are part of the reason there are so many atheists in America today. And that makes my heart sad.