There’s a guy I know, for almost half a century now, that I haven’t spoken with in several months. The last time we spoke, I called him. We’ve always kept in contact throughout the years even though I moved around quite a bit when I was younger. Suddenly it seemed he didn’t want to speak with me anymore. What did I do to cause this break? Well, I found out today when out of nowhere, he called me.
We became friends in the late 1960’s, as teenagers. We both learned to surf, played in a band together for about 3 years, but then went our separate ways after high school. We kept in contact throughout all that time until the last year. I used to make sure that if I had not heard from him in a month, I’d call him, and vice versa.
When his first child was born, I was living in California. At that time, there were no cellphones or Internet. I had a landline in my living room and one Saturday morning, around 4 am, the phone rang. It was my friend. He called to tell me about the birth of his son. Why is this interesting? He called me before he had called his parents.
As the years proceeded, I moved a few more times but we always kept in contact. He had been brought up in a very Christian family (Assembly of God) and eventually, in his late 20’s went to “Bible School” to become certified to be a pastor. Eventually he got his own church, a small congregation in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he’s been for over 30 years now. He’s grown the congregation to nearly 200 people. Still, during all that time, we spoke at lest monthly (sometimes more often).
He knew years ago I had become an atheist. It didn’t affect our personal relationship but he could never understand why I had rejected a belief in god. Our last conversation though, he was curt with me, saying that he didn’t have time to speak with me and would call me back in a day or two. Well, that never happened, until today.
He told me that he had become convicted of the holy spirit to talk to me and tell me why he had been avoiding me for so many months. The reason? Atheism is immoral. That’s right, being an atheist means having no morality.
I don’t know why, after so many years he had come to that conclusion (“God?”), but I listened to him. I spoke very little during this short telephone call. I was taken aback by this revelation from him; Someone I’ve known, and yes loved as a friend for so long.
I have to admit I was hurt by his words. They weren’t harsh, more matter of fact for him. Still, the words stung. In another way I was relieved that I had not done something to hurt him. That’s the way I left it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from him again. I certainly won’t make the attempt to contact him. What for? What would be the benefit for either of us?
Yes, it’s sad. It’s sad that someone I’ve known for most of my life has rejected me simply because I’m an atheist. It’s sad that, after all these years, and being close not only to him, but his family, that I’ll probably never see or speak with him again.
All of this simply because I had come to reject his beliefs. Not him, just what he believes.
It makes me wonder, who is the more moral person?