Why Dating an Unbeliever is Bad for Them

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It’s the familiar “I met someone” starry-eyed glow. “He’s so good to me. He gets along so well with my family, and he respects me. I’m really happy, and it’s getting pretty serious.” It’s a conversation I’ve had a few times.  Different young women, same scenario. Being the listener and question-asker that I am, my probing eventually lands on the catch: “He’s not a Believer but…”    There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there? He said he’ll go to church with me, he was burned by a church once, or he’s really open to spiritual things, so it’s only a matter of time, right? Our hearts so long for connection and intimacy with others that justification has to be employed at the expense of our better judgement.

I’m not here to dive into the meaning of “unequally yoked” or the greater risk of future heathen children. Us millennials like to roll our eyes at familiar speeches, anyways. I want to approach this topic from a different angle- one that I believe to be equally as Biblical. You see, these kinds of discussions can easily turn into an “us vs. them” refrain that neglects the spiritual well-being of everyone involved.  In other words, instead of painting the unbelieving partner as the evil scoffer that bids enlightened but weak spirits to sit and join in their wickedness, have we ever stopped to consider that they, like us, are souls in need of God’s grace? Is it likely that an unbelieving boyfriend or girlfriend will spiritually benefit from an unequally yoked relationship? I don’t think so, and here are three reasons why.

You can’t offer the future they want

Someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus should have different goals than someone who hasn’t. As believers, our lives should be marked by our ultimate purpose of building God’s kingdom. This affects the way we treat our finances, the way we pursue purity, and the way we spend our time. Unbelievers don’t have the same definitive objective, and so their choices are affected by their earth-bound ties. On this topic, the negative pull on the believing boyfriend or girlfriend down slippery slopes is typically what gets highlighted in the argument against dating outside the faith. But have you ever thought about the unfairness of shackling an unbeliever to heavenly goals, when they may not be able to one day reap the heavenly rewards? In other words, if you are holding steadfast to boundaries that protect your purity and pastimes that honor the Lord, the unbeliever is being forced under the law when grace to follow God has not yet been granted to them. We have accepted God’s free gifts of love and mercy to end that kind of slavery, so why would we wish that kind of life on someone we care for? Simply put, it is unkind, and realistically, it will create hurtful tension.

They see the compromise

This next one might hurt a bit, but please, oh please, take it with a heaping spoonful of sisterly love. If your ultimate goal is to win your sweetheart over while dating them, you are unintentionally sending a subtle message. This memo communicates that you aren’t very serious about your relationship with God, at least not when it comes to relationships, because you are compromising on His will for you. And if your commitment to Jesus is lacking, you don’t give much incentive for anyone close to you to follow Him, too. At best, you set an example of Christianity that picks and chooses from godly prescriptions. We want the people we care about to find in us a model of godly courage that leads them to the same kind of zeal for living that Jesus has.  Sometimes that means skipping out on momentary happiness and potentially hurting feelings, understanding that God’s recommendations do not lead to disaster in the long run.

They need Jesus

Relationships tend to throw a smoky rave in your frontal cortex in a manner that clouds better judgment. Additionally, spiritual warfare is real, and if someone is truly a spiritual-seeker, a new relationship could be just the thing that the enemy uses to preoccupy their spirit. In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, an elder demon makes the following statement in coaching a newbie.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Although it is a fictional story, Lewis provides insight into the spiritual realm. The movement of a human soul towards the eternal freedom found in Christ is a fragile process. It is difficult enough for Believers to keep their commitment to Christ central in a dating relationship, so imagine how much more arduous it can become for an unbeliever to prioritize spiritual progress in the same circumstances. If you truly hope for someone’s journey with Jesus to begin, the most loving thing you can do is allow and pray for them to have space to encounter God, free from the distraction of a dating relationship.

True Love       

Perhaps in reading this, you find yourself lost in the exceptions. It’s nice to talk about better/best scenarios in theory, but what about the real-life dating relationships that do result in the unbeliever giving their life to Christ? To that I would say: give credit where credit is due. We serve a gracious and powerful God who is all about redeeming our mistakes for His glory. The genuine conversion that occurs in “missionary dating” is more likely in spite of the relationship, not because of it. Truly loving someone means caring about their soul more than anything else. Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life. But His yoke becomes easy and His burden becomes light when we look to Him for wisdom and guidance, when we lean on Him for strength to sort through the difficult choices in life, and when we see people how He sees them- with loving, eternal lenses.

So how should we tread the waters that lead us through the tension of having romantic feelings for someone who isn’t committed to Christ? Show them the right kind of compassion. Introduce them to your community. Intentionally seek out people who are more fitted to pour into them without the risk of an emotional attachment. And absolutely pray. When we align ourselves to God in prayer, our desires can begin match His. We will start to recognize our inability to support the future unbelievers want, our need to provide a courageous example of faith, and our commitment to see others first and foremost as souls in need of a Savior.

A Christmas Message for the Time in Between

 

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When only God was listening, what did you ask for for Christmas? Perhaps it’s something more recently added to your waiting on Jesus list or maybe it seems like it’s been gathering dust for a decade. The Christmas season has a way of creating spaces to slow down and contemplate. For some of us, these reflections can threaten to cast shadows over our Christmas cheer if we dwell too long on what we don’t have in our seemingly endless holding pattern. This is where I found myself a couple days ago, and as Providence would have it, my reading plan brought me to this spot in Scripture:

“Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”

~Luke 9:44

The passage stood out because when Jesus says “Let these words sink into your thick skull”, I feel like what He’s about to say might be important. It’s a passage that finds Jesus’ followers in their own “time in between.” They are waiting for Jesus to make His move and rescue Israel from its oppressors. They have a plan and expectations, and so this statement leaves them scratching their heads. To provide some context, the passage before describes a time when Jesus casts out a demon from a young boy. The response from those gathered at the scene is found in verse 43: “And all were astonished at the majesty of God.” The scene that unfolds after Jesus’ plan-foiling pronouncement offers a glimpse of the disciples’ pride in fighting over which among themselves was the greatest.

The manner in which Jesus’ statement is sandwiched in between two seemingly unrelated episodes offers a very realistic scale of two extremes that we teeter in our own “time in between.” I often find myself in awe of the good things God has brought about in my life. Life experience is routinely more sweet than sour if we were to make an honest list of pros and cons. I woke up this morning, that sunset over the beach is incomparable, and my mom’s advice is seriously the best…all acknowledged as gifts from God’s creative hand. And yet, at the drop of a hat, I can become extremely disgruntled when I start to think about my wonderful plans for my life that God doesn’t seem to be on board with. Yes, God, all these gifts are great, but have you even been listening to my prayers? Singleness, health issues, broken relationships, [fill in the blank] has never been on my Christmas list. Want to know the root of that attitude? Probably not, but I’ll say it anyhow. Pride. Ugly, icky, I know better than the King of the Universe pride.

We aren’t so different from the disciples that traveled the dusty roads around the Middle Eastern countryside, following the unpredictable Messiah from town to town a couple millennia ago. And Jesus’ abrupt message is the same to us in our predicament, only (glory!) past tense: “Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of man was delivered into the hands of men”….then He died, taking on your sin and then conquered evil and death by rising 3 days later. He lived, He died at the hands of His creation, then He rose to live so that we can, too. No more simply being in awe- now we get to know Him in deep communion. And as for pride, we continually take it to the cross to remind ourselves of the beautiful work of humility that set us free. Our joy, especially at this time of year, rests on our fight to actively let these truths sink in, as our Blessed Redeemer commands.

Merry Christmas,

Rachelle

5 Reasons to Embrace Awkwardness

 

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I’m sure we can all think of cringe-worthy moments in our past that we would like to somehow forever forget or reach back in time to physically erase. Memories that don’t just relay the particulars of an event, but the kind that summon the flood of feelings you felt in a moment that revealed your lack of social skills. Perhaps it’s that time you had an uncomfortably-forced conversation with a crush to fill silence that resulted in you asking questions and then interrupting or making a mess of the English language with an onslaught of uncharacteristic grammar mistakes. Or maybe it was the time when you went to pray for an assigned prayer request in a large group and COMPLETELY forgot the name of the person you were supposed to be praying for- a woman who not only had a name very similar to yours, but one whom you had known for a couple years. Ugh…and now, just like that, all the feelings are flooding back. These memories feel “icky”, and so us millennials fear and avoid awkwardness like the plague. But have we ever stopped to consider the benefits of these less-than-ideal experiences? In this article, I will make a case for embracing that which is awkward.

  1. It makes for good stories

How often do we dislike something in the moment but grow to find the humor in it later on? Like that one time I volunteered at the Special Olympics and a young Olympian (probably around the age where puberty incapacitates better judgment) pulled up my shirt instead of going for my high-five. Extremely blush-worthy at the time, but it is now probably a top 3 funniest memory with my bestie, who witnessed the whole event. The wonderful medicine of laughter is often brought to us by awkward moments.

  1. It reminds us of our lack of control

It’s good to be reminded every once in a while that we don’t have it all together. When speech comes out in moron or a conversation dies with no hope of resurrection in the wake of awkward silence, the façade of autonomous control is shattered. It reminds us that we are so much more limited than we give ourselves credit for. In fact, I’m convinced that no one lets me down more than I do. And once we recognize our inability to truly control, we are primed to see God’s ultimate authority over the happenings in our daily lives.

  1. We become more approachable.

There’s a kind of camaraderie that is struck when we are vulnerable about our humanity. Perfectly confident people are intimidating. Us millennials value authenticity, and awkward moments have a way of forcing us to be truly authentic. When our actions admit our deficiencies, people tend to let their guard down because you’ve already broken the awkward ice, thus building community.

  1. Any kind of inner struggle offers a way to draw near to Christ.

In moments of anxiety over things we should or shouldn’t have said in an awkward moment, we have a couple of options. We could wallow and relive the uncomfortable seconds that sealed our social fate. Or we could give it to Jesus, several times if need be. And then we get to see the healer and redeemer that He truly is, even in the seemingly insignificant stuff that matters to us, working “all things” together for good. (Rom 8:28)

  1. It produces Humility

We all love to see the arrogant antagonist in a movie humbled by embarrassment. A chocolate shake spilled over their head, an embarrassing secret coming to light, or a climax where they don’t get the girl or the guy all make for entertaining, even satisfying endings to a film. But have you ever thought about how sometimes, maybe God allows awkward or embarrassing moments in our lives to point out our own pride? We don’t like to admit to admit arrogance, but sometimes falls are justified by our preceding pride. The difference, of course, is that God isn’t a laughing spectator, but is instead a loving Father who knows what we need to become who He has designed us to be. Sometimes, awkward moments are exactly what we need to refine our character.

So. The next time you start to kick yourself or dig an escape route, fight to see the bigger picture. Ask for Jesus’ help in the all-too familiar battle of truth over feelings, remembering that he lived our worst nightmare as a crowd mocked Him. All for love. All for redemption, so that all things could be redeemed. Yes, even our awkward moments.

Love,

Rachelle

p.s. Thanks for reading!