Christian Singles & Dating

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Right Guy, Wrong Faith

  • Wendy Lee Nentwig Contributing Writer
  • 2005 9 May
Right Guy, Wrong Faith

I know you’re all waiting anxiously for an update on my escapades in the fun-filled world of online dating, but I’m going to keep you in suspense for another month. Instead, I interrupt this monthly column to discuss an urgent problem: Christian daters going AWOL.

Not sure what I mean? Let me explain.

Most of us have a friend, maybe someone we grew up with in church or met at college, who has given up on the idea of finding the ideal Christian guy. Not that they stood up and announced this to the world. There was no official declaration. Maybe they didn’t even admit it to themselves. But one minute you’re sharing secrets and talking late into the night about what you want in a guy, and the next minute she’s thrown in the towel.

How do you know? Well, she shows up to your most recent barbecue with a smart, funny, interesting man she’s been dating for a few weeks. They seem deliriously happy. They’re obviously in love. And he’s polite, attentive and not the least commitment-phobic.

But wait a minute! Didn’t I just say she gave up on finding a Christian guy? She did. This guy isn’t a Christian. And it seems to be happening more and more among the women I know.

In my younger years I was somewhat judgmental about this sort of thing. (Some of you may still be at this place.) As an overly-enthusiastic new Christian attending a Christian college filled with what seemed to be an abundance of eligible guys, I didn’t get why girls would choose to date non-Christians. Of course, there were those few women at church back home who became Christians in their 20s or 30s, once they were already married. Their husbands weren’t so quick to adopt their wives’ new faith and as a result these women trudged off to church alone Sunday after Sunday. I thought it was sad, but it would never happen to me.  And these women hadn’t chosen this. Now, it seems like more and more women are making the choice to date non-Christians.

Ask them why and they’ll give you a number of reasons (some of them pretty convincing):

  • The Christian divorce rate is as high or higher than the national average, so while the Bible may advocate finding a spouse that shares your beliefs, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an easier road when it comes to making a marriage last.

  • They don’t see a lot of Christian relationships in their family, their church, their community that they want to emulate.

  • Christian guys seem reluctant to take the initiative when it comes to starting a relationship, instead opting for the safety that church so readily provides of hanging out in groups.

  • In contrast, non-Christian guys, in general anyway, are more proactive when they meet a girl they think they could be interested in.

  • They’ve met someone and – except for the faith factor – they are a perfect match.

Before we go any further, let me be real clear about my position: I don’t think dating outside of my faith is the answer. I think the bad will eventually outweigh the good, and as much as I might try to convince myself, I’ll never be completely okay with not sharing what is the most important part of my life with the person I’m supposed to be the closest to. Coming from a non-Christian home, there are enough people I love who don’t share that part of my life. I’m not looking to add to that number.

But as I get older, I can sort of understand how a smart, committed Christian woman could find herself in a relationship with a man outside of her faith. As I’ve been saying for months, this relationship thing is tricky. Despite helpful books like Dr. Henry Cloud’s “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping” (which was the impetus for this series of columns), there is no rule book when it comes to love. When feelings are involved, things get messy and the best laid plans can go right out the window. So for those who’ve decided they couldn’t wait any longer and have gone this route, I feel your pain. I just hope you’re not selling yourself short.

For me, the search continues. Do I believe there’s a great Christian guy out there just waiting for me? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to keep looking. In the meantime, I’m studying the healthy Christian marriages around me to remind myself that what I want – a guy that shares my love of pop culture, my sense of humor and my faith – really is possible. And who knows? I just may find it.

Wendy Lee Nentwig is a freelance writer and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. When not covering music from Beck to Bebo Norman, she collects old metal sign letters, laughs at the cartoon series "Home Movies," marvels at the talent of writers like Rick Bragg and David Sedaris, and is a connoisseur of fountain Cokes. Her favorite part of being single is never having to share the remote.

"How to Get a Date Worth Keeping" is authored by   Dr. Henry Cloud and recently released from  Zondervan Publishers.  Based on over ten years of personally coaching singles on dating, Dr. Henry Cloud shares his proven, very doable, step-by-step approach to overcoming your sticking points and getting all the dates you could want.

Read the third article in this Singles series, "Practice Makes Perfect," here.