He Said-She Said: Relationships with Non-Christians
- Thursday, October 02, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I know a Christian woman who is dating a non-Christian man, but won't admit she's actually dating him and will try to hide the fact when she spends any time with him. I try not to be judgmental, especially since I dated a non-Christian woman soon after I was saved (which turned into one of the biggest mistakes of my life). It's become difficult though, and I'm starting to think I should just give up on the friendship and walk away. What are your thoughts on relationships with non-Christians, especially with the opposite sex? How good of friends should we become with non-Christians of the opposite sex?
HE SAID: Relationships are difficult. They have become more complicated as the years pass by, not only because I have aged, but how the world’s view of them has evolved over that time. How we see dating depicted on television and in the movies couldn’t be shown in public twenty years ago. Sex and the City has become a dating guide for many. Our culture has legitimized sex, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, divorce, and adultery. It is no wonder that Christians in the world have difficulty not being of the world.
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a).
I am a huge proponent of having friendships with unbelievers, both male and female. We are called to be a light of the world. The only means to do this is to have interaction with those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. The trouble comes when we don’t live out our beliefs in front of those around us, our emotions are drawn in a non-platonic way to an unbeliever of the opposite sex, or we become enticed into situations that lead us away from our walk with the Lord.
In order to abstain from compromising situations, we must have a close relationship with Jesus and be in His Word, be in prayer for discernment and wisdom, acknowledge our weaknesses, determine our boundaries and have a plan of attack in the event the relationship moves toward a direction that is not holy.
These boundaries and plan of attack must be set in advance, before we enter into any relationship (friendship, dating or otherwise), so we are prepared for any temptation or struggle we may face.
In order to be a man or woman of integrity, it is imperative we have a foundation based upon God and Scripture. Relationships are hard enough when we are trying to do the right thing with the Lord, let alone doing what we know is to be wrong without Him.
He (Job) is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil (Job 1:8).
When I am in a dating relationship, I want all of my friends to meet and know her—not only to show her off (as a proud boyfriend), but also to get insight from people I trust. If your friend is “hiding” the fact that she is spending time with a guy, chances are she already knows in her heart what she is doing is wrong.
As a friend, the first thing to do is pray for her. In Philippians 4:6, we are told to pray about everything. This is one of those situations where you need to allow the Lord to speak to you and guide you. Consider when you were in her situation and reflect upon how you would have received a friend’s rebuke.
When you approach your friend, do it out of love not condemnation (leave that for the Holy Spirit). First Corinthians 13:4-5 is not limited to marriages, but applies to all of us:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way.
The Lord and His Word do not need our help to transform lives. Sometimes we need to get out of the way for God to work. Be careful to not force your thoughts, beliefs and opinions on her or wave verses in her face to make her change. Share your own experience and what God has taught you—but do it with love.
But the way of the wicked is like complete darkness. Those who follow it have no idea what they are stumbling over (Proverbs 4:19).
Oftentimes when we are in a relationship, we lose focus on the things that are most important in our lives; we don’t even realize the relationship is leading us astray.
SHE SAID: When I first read your question, the first image that popped into my mind was Robot from Lost in Space. Remember that campy, ‘60s sci-fi television show?
As a young child in the ‘70s, I remember watching the reruns of it on the weekends, as the Robinson family (yes, it was a space-age version of Swiss Family Robinson) was stuck in space and trying to figure out how to get back to Planet Earth.
Precocious, youngest son Will Robinson was always getting into some sort of mischief in the space ship or on the random planet that the family had landed on, while drifting out in the cosmos. When Will was about to do something foolish, Robot (with flailing “arms”) was always nearby to warn: “Danger, Will Robinson! DANGER!!!”
And so to you, dear reader, I offer the same advice for your friend today: “DANGER!”
Dabbling in dating relationships with non-Christians is like playing with fire. It is not harmless, and you will get burned (whether you feel it or not). I speak from personal experience, and I also speak as a friend who has seen other friends slide quite easily down this slippery slope.
Even if you choose to skip over the entire book of 2 Corinthians in your Bible, no one can deny that chapter 6, verses 14-16, is ultra clear on this subject matter:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
So, in essence, don’t even go there. Don’t even strike a match. Step away from the matchbox. “Danger, fellow Christian! DANGER!”
Sure, we all understand this and know that God has set up these unequally-yoked perimeters to protect his children. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy for us to follow these instructions (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Apart from Christ, the heart wants what the heart wants. It can easily deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9), and we are wont to rationalize circumstances into what we want them to be and to fit our agendas. The world says, “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” But the Bible says, “Um, yes you can” (Titus 2:11-14).
This seems to be what is going on with your friend right now. She wants what she wants and what feels good. But she knows that it is not right (hence, hiding the fact that she’s dating a non-Christian). At this point, her heart may also be hooked and she may think she’s in love. She is deceiving herself, and when we don’t want to let go of something then it is very hard to walk away from it.
On a related note, you ask just how close a Christian should become with a non-Christian. I think that is debatable. Each person knows when their heart has gotten involved beyond a platonic level. If a man and woman truly only feel friendship toward one another (like a brother and a sister), then friendship should be an option (and also seen as an opportunity for outreach and witness). But if the Christian sees that this friendship with a non-Christian is pulling him or her away from Christ, then it’s time to reassess the nature of the relationship and establish some safeguards.
When in doubt, and if you don’t trust yourself, your actions or your interior pitter-patters (if present), then keep your friendship relegated to a group-only type of setting. Don’t spend alone time together, so that you may guard your heart and protect yourself from making bad decisions (Proverbs 4:23).
Since you have been there and understand this struggle when it comes to dating or having close friendships with non-Christians, then your friendship, your honesty and your compassion are invaluable to your friend right now (Galatians 6:2, John 13:34).
I know you are struggling with whether or not you should walk away, since the friendship has become increasingly difficult. But before you do so, have you had a heart-to-heart discussion with your friend? Have you lovingly confronted her on her actions and told her how you feel? Can you share that you still love her in Christ, even though she is choosing to disobey God’s Word? (Joel 2:13). Can you share with her that you want God’s best for her, and that his best never contradicts his Word?
You may be the only person in her life right now who is willing to reach out and say these things to her. You may be the tool that God wants to use to “break through,” help her see the light and turn from her ways.
Before you throw your hands up in frustration and quit, be sure that you take this matter to the Lord in prayer. How does he want you to respond to your sister in Christ? If nothing else, please continue praying for her—that her heart would soften (Hosea 12:6) and that her eyes would be opened to see her situation for what it really is.
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25:4-5).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com’s Senior Entertainment Editor. She loves God, her family and and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who’s counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We’re just average folk who understand what it’s like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life’s questions, and it’s where we’ll go for guidance when responding to your questions.
GOT A QUESTION? If you’ve got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on October 2, 2008.
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