On the flipside, IT WOULD SEEM many* menfolk with the faith are ‘meh’ or ‘oh holy gosh, no!’ when when it comes to yours truly.** I often get the eerie feeling they are comparing me to some champion-of-the-faith-barbiedoll-yet-somehow-unintimidating-wears-ripped-skinnyjeans-with-artsy-jewelry prototype.***
So yes, I have frequently dated non-Christians. Because.. well.. they saw me. And I liked them.
Even though sometimes I have had tons in common with some of these menz and liked them lotttssss, in the end it never worked out.
When I was in my late teens / early twenties, it didn’t work out because I was ridden with guilt the entire time we dated. I wanted to stay with them, but I shouldn’t.
I would break it off regretfully, almost saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus.” I took my own spiritual and emotional needs out of the equation. I basically conveyed to the spurned pago they were practically perfect, if not for that meanie Apostle Paul. “If only Christianity didn’t have these annoying verses about not being unequally yoked… Otherwise, I would TOTALLY date you.”
More recently, even though parts of me may still want to keep dating an adorbs guy who doesn’t share my faith, a louder, stronger part of me doesn’t wanna.
Why? I believe it has something to do with the ‘transforming your mind’ part of being a Christian. Being a Christian changes the way I view everything — how to handle my own successes and failures, the shortcomings of others, future stressful situations, my purpose on earth, beauty … It’s unsettling when I’m dating a non-Christian who can’t get over some bitterness toward someone who has wronged them, is existentially threatened by a career failure, etc. I know what keeps me out of those pits – praying, reading scripture, the encouragement and exhortation of Christian community, and thoughts like “Yes, this person hurt me, but my struggle is not against flesh and blood. The more they wrong me, the more of an opportunity it will be to exercise the audacious forgiveness of the cross.” To me, that’s the stuff of freeing truth. To a non-Christian, that’s the stuff of idiotic gibberish.
Plus, I want a certain intimacy in my romantic relationships that involves sharing everything that’s important to me. I’m sure it’s technically possible to never talk about my faith and focus on other shared interests, but that would be … fragmenting. It would be more awkward than dating someone who didn’t think that the disease I research was even a real disease. We might still be able to guffaw over Parks and Rec reruns together, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have a true partner in life who would encourage and support me in what is most important to me.
But I think it’s worth considering what your decision would be if the bible was completely silent on this subject. If it doesn’t grieve you that they don’t have the same life, joy, peace, purpose that following Jesus has brought you – well then, maybe you aren’t finding life, joy, peace, and purpose in Christianity.
I found it super helpful and enlightening to do a heart investigation / rebellion deconstruction to find the primary source of my struggle. For example, I recently realized I get more joy from flirting/smooching/dating than from my faith. From there, I realized my feels toward God were pretty flat. From there, I read a chapter from Sacred Rhythms that made me realize I wasn’t creating space in my heart and life to find joy in Jesus. At least in my case, my dating strugglez were just as much a symptom of a problem as a problem in of itself.
Focusing on the solution to the root of my probs (feeling ‘meh’ about Jesus) has opened the way to work on “throwing off all that hinders” so I can run in free, obedient joy, instead of planting my feet in dutiful, obedient misery.
I’m not trying to paint myself as some super-Christian, belieeeeeeeeve meeeee. BUT I’ve been encouraged that most recently, the disconnect I had with a non-Christian would-be-boyfriend was genuine, not forced.
So Christian singles – instead of saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus,” may we all honestly say “It is you, it is me, it is especially you and me together not being particularly helpful in my pursual of Jesus. Peace and grease.”
And then, let us joyfully FIDO.
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
* With a few notable exceptions. You know who you are! #awkward
** NOT THAT I AM BITTER
*** OKAY I’M PRETTY BITTER
GENERAL COMMENT: The main reason I decided to publish these rambles is because this has been such a huge source of guilt for me for .. 10 years! And there’s practically nothing less Christian than being eaten alive by guilt. So, even if this helps two people, it’s worth the rest of the world rolling their eyes at my over-sharing.