My christening dilemma: I'm gay and an atheist, should I be a godparent?

Being an atheist godfather would be like a vegetarian who eats fish.

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday, my brother asked me to be Godfather to my newborn nephew, Ben.

I declined and now my decision has caused offence to my brother and a rift within my family. No one – it seems - objects to being made a godparent. No one. What is more, I shan't be attending the christening. You can’t make me. Shut up.

I am an atheist. Not a part-time, everything happens for a reason, there might be something out there, nothing is impossible atheist. Not a vegetarian who eats fish atheist. I am not an atheist who believes in karma, nor do I wonder if God is watching me masturbate nor do I respect the sincere beliefs of others. Sincerity does not a truth make. Nick Clegg.

I am an atheist. I believe in what we test and prove and question and KNOW. I have never seen inside my own head but I know - I KNOW - that there is not a mouse inside it called Robert. If the Pope believes in Robert the mouse then he can take a jump off the Torre San Giovani. There is no Robert, there is no God and vegetarians have no excuse for eating fish.

How on earth could I be Ben's Godfather? You might as well ask John Prescott to be your nutritionist. I had been expecting the call…

ME: Hello?

BROTHER: Hey.

ME: Oh hi, you okay?

BROTHER: I wanted to let you know that Ben’s christening is next weekend!

ME: …Uha

BROTHER: So...we hope you can be there.

ME: Er…

BROTHER: And, we were also wondering...we thought it would be nice...well we would really like it if you would consider being one of Ben's godparents.

ME: Oh. Well...that's very sweet of you. I'm touched, but…

BROTHER: Oh I'm so pleased...

ME: What would I have to do?

BROTHER: Oh just say a few words, nothing heavy.

ME: What words?

BROTHER: Oh just that you'll help Ben to live his life in the worship of Christ's Church.

ME: No.

BROTHER: Sorry?

ME: No, I can't do that. I'm an atheist.

BROTHER: Yeah, I know, but...

ME: I have sex with men.

BROTHER: Can't you just drop that for once and...

ME: Not really, no. I'm doing it tonight. Look, you know I don't like the church. I believe christenings are the pernicious indoctrination of innocent and unknowing children.

BROTHER: Right. I think it's a shame.

ME: Neither of you have ever been to church.

BROTHER: We got married in a church.

ME: Only because you liked the pillars. Look I am proud to be Ben's uncle but I'm sorry. Really, I am. I can't be his Godfather.

BROTHER: Fine. Okay. I guess I understand.

ME: Plus the trains to Milton Keynes from London are terrible on Sundays.

He sounded angry and hurt. After the call, I looked at my blank phone and wondered: Am I being churlish? Pig-headed? Selfish? Irrelevant. But before you judge, take a moment to consider the vows I would have to make on poor Ben’s behalf.

  1. Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?

(Certainly not!)

  1. Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?

(Um...yes, but not because God tells me to. Shut up.)

  1. Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

(I dunno about God but my neighbour is well angry when I put the bins out a day early.)

  1. Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?

(I am more likely to turn to Pol Pot.)

  1. Do you submit to Christ as Lord?

(With that beard?)

  1. Do you come to Christ the way, the truth, and the life?

(No, I come to Christ the way of London Midland Trains which is why I am late, angry and frazzled and the backs of my trousers smell of Stella Artois and urine.)

My friends think I'm an idiot. Apparently, this christening is about Ben, not me. They are wrong. This christening, as with all christenings, is about parents celebrating their new baby and wanting to share their pride with others. I understand that but I don’t see why they would wish to express their feelings by asking a stranger to smudge Ben’s forehead with Anglican water from the tap out the back.

I do feel bad. I love my brother and Ben seems inoffensive enough when he’s quiet. But if I go to the christening - If I become a godparent – wouldn't I be the worst kind of hypocrite? What kind of example would that be to set to my young nephew? If I am to teach him anything, it must be the joy of free and rational thought. The honour of standing by one's convictions. The quiet dignity of he who stands as a pillar of truth against the ebbing swirl of received theological wisdom. The importance of shopping around before buying trainers.

If I go to church and swear God's allegiance in Ben's name, wouldn’t it be a betrayal? And anyway, I would really struggle with the trains. Ben wouldn't want that…would he?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all