God, Dating and That Unequally Yoked Business…
I’ve been trying to think of ways how to effectively write this post. I felt so many feelings. I was wondering who is to blame? What is reasonable? What is the best way to go? I asked friends male and female, religious and non-religious their opinions…
But let me back up.
I go to church with two of my girlfriends. Then after we usually grab something to eat and catch up on our lives. It’s very nice. We feel refreshed and revived to take on another week. Last Sunday was the start of a series, that made us all perk up our ears. “Don’t get married until…”
The first message was “Don’t get married until you hear from God.” Ok, awesome. The speaker did a fantastic job breaking it down. But that’s not what this post is about. He asked folks to bring the men in their lives to the next Sunday service because the message would be geared toward men. The following Sunday for women and the fourth Sunday a wrap up.
Well one of my friends is in a very serious long-term relationship with her man. They’ve been together a really long time and they are on the marriage track.
Here’s the rub. It doesn’t seem he’s very into church, and that seems to be one of the sticking points for her. Kind of the, dang if he did that, that would be awesome. She clearly loves dude a ton, but as she wants to grow more spiritually, well, he isn’t necessarily along for the ride. She managed to get him to go to service but she said the message kind of washed over him and he was quite apathetic. She also neglected to tell him what the message was going to be about.
I’m thinking her expectations may have been too high. Maybe she hoped he would have been emotionally moved by something the preacher said and it would prompt him to instantly change into the God-fearing, church going man she’s always wanted him to be. But nope. Didn’t happen. Even if he did take that walk up the altar and gave his life to Christ, you are changed…but maintaining that change is a conscious effort and choice a person will continue to grow into and evolve. So that still doesn’t mean he’d come home and be the perfect husband.
Their house hold afterwards was just tense and uncomfortable. My friend felt discouraged. I felt horrible for her. On the flipside…
Her man probably felt ambushed and that probably caused him to shut down. It wasn’t that she invited him to church, but she picked THAT Sunday, with THAT message. Ouch. I had a feeling if she did manage to get him to come, that was going to be the outcome.
So basically, this goes to something church girls/guys often struggle with when it comes to dating. There are very clear directions the Bible gives in terms of dating and finding the right person, but let’s face it, we don’t do it. We bend our values and beliefs sometimes because we want to be with someone so badly or be with a particular person so badly. We hope they will change or they will want to start coming to church. But truth is, in most cases, they won’t. Some friends say, well shouldn’t I be winning a soul for the kingdom? Sure, but if you’ve been with someone that long, that may be a soul you won’t win. But the problem comes in where we will feel tormented because that person may not necessarily share your faith or they may be at a different point in their faith than you. You may love everything about them, but you know they don’t want to step foot inside a church.
And there are some cases where people who are romantically involved do get their partner to go to church and the person has a breakthrough moment and boom they are serving God together. But I feel like that’s the exception and not the rule unless that person already had a foundation in church.
I guess the whole concept of not serving two masters and God spitting out lukewarm people is proven through people like me who seem to have a toe in both worlds. You can’t have it all. I’m not a holy roller, scripture-quoting person. But I’m not entirely heathen either. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but sometimes religion itself frustrates me. I pray and sometimes I fast. I meditate and I think about all sorts of spiritual things. But I drink and have premarital sex. I cuss from time to time, and I’m a recovering closeted twerker. I’m wrong for that. I know all of this. I haven’t completely taken off the old things to follow God completely and I struggle with that, and for that reason, it’s difficult for God to bless me with someone who has a deep spiritual relationship with God if I don’t have one. It’s all connected.
Anyway, one of my other friends said she wanted to bring a guy she was seeing to the service. She said she needed to get him into church early… but my thing is getting him into the routine of church early is a non factor… if church isn’t already IN him, it’s going to be a struggle.
I said when it comes to dating, if your faith is a big part of who you are, then you should put that out there. Don’t be ashamed of it.
I tell men I’m dating that I was raised in church, in a very strict church at that and while I go fairly regularly, I don’t have a church home (fear of commitment) but I pray and it’s a part of my life, that will probably increase as I get older. I know that I want a man who acknowledges God. And believes in God. I want someone who I don’t have to force or beg to go to church… which brings me to another point.
There are women who really think that because church is important to them, if they date a man who doesn’t really go to church, he should go FOR HER.
Um no. God gives us free will and He’s God. So why on Earth should a person feel obligated to go to church because you do or because of you? Nope, not going to work. I think if you are a church girl/guy, you should ask this question of your date/partner.
1. How do you feel about church/religion? Leave this open-ended and let them speak honestly. Let them feel comfortable about giving you an honest answer. If you are team God, you aren’t supposed to be judgemental anyway… that’s another post.
2. Do you believe in God? Why? Why not?
3. Do you pray? What do you pray about? For? Do you pray only when you are in trouble or when times are hard or if you want something? Do you pray prayers of thanks? Do you pray for other people?
4. Do you go to church because you want to? Or if you grew up in church is it a habit or obligation? Or you know your mom/dad/grandma will ask you if you went and you don’t want to lie?
Usually if a person goes to church independently and because they actually want to, that’s a good sign. That means they are going to go with or without you, and they’d been going before they met you. If being with someone who goes to church is important to you, then I think those are questions you really need to ask.
Now I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t seek differing opinions. So I asked my friends who don’t go to church, but are morally upstanding how they felt about it.
One friend said, a lot of people in church have issues so what is wrong with people who are good people, but who just don’t want to go to church? Why is it such a deal breaker?
Another male friend was saying because he does not subscribe to religion, he feels that women put him on a second tier status and that bothers him. He is accepting of all kinds of religions and if his woman was into church he would never get in the way of her relationship with God. “I’m a good man. So does that make me not suitable?”
That all sounds good and nice, but the church girls I know will say that logic doesn’t work for a marriage. Being a good person isn’t enough and you got ta have da Lord. They want the entire family to participate in church to keep the harmony and provide a united front to children. The women did not want to be the bad guy, dragging their children to church who are asking why daddy is staying home.
I get both sides of the argument. Church and most religions place a strong emphasis on family and home unity and the parents leading their households- the men in particular.
The irony of church and all of this pressure on men to lead is, church is full of women hearing about what men should be, and they are amening and agreeing but there aren’t enough men to hear and apply the message to their lives. And there aren’t enough men to go around that congregation full of women WHO ALL WANT HUSBANDS.
I’ve read a number of articles about why it is difficult for men to participate in church.
1. Men don’t want to be told what to do. (And a relationship with God requires full surrender and humility)
2. Church is a place of vulnerability and a place to seek and receive correction and direction. (Men don’t like to be wrong, men don’t like to be vulnerable let alone in public).
3. Some people may have had bad experiences. Therefore they associate all churches with that experience and they leave it alone.
So when it comes to relationships one can say, your relationship with God is the most intimate one you will have. It’s not one size fits all so your partner shouldn’t matter because they have their own relationship or lack thereof with God they have to deal with and answer to.
But, while our relationships with God are very individualistic (and I’m thankful for that), we are also here to support one another and we need others to go along on this journey with us.
A non-church friend of mine gave me an interesting tidbit. She said that if you find a man who is active in the community or participates in a number of community organizations, he will more than likely be involved in church. Even if he isn’t, men who are in community organizations know how to work in teams, be accountable to the group, will know how to be a financial giver as well as someone who gives their time and talents and these are the kinds of men, church women would love to have. They prioritize and have to manage their time well. Sometimes, church people need to step out of church and join other civic groups and they will find more like-minded, community-minded people who share similar values. I told my friend that what she said was a brilliant assessment that I really needed to include in my blog.
If your man says, “I don’t need anyone, I’ve been taking care of myself all my life” and you are a church girl, you may have trouble getting him to go to church.
If your man doesn’t have community activities where he shares his talents, gifts, time and money (charitable giving), you may have trouble getting him to buy into the idea of church.
If your man says that he doesn’t believe in God. Girl, you know he ain’t going to church. So stop.
If your man says, “I made all of my success happen.” He is probably not going to go to church.
If your man is an individualistic person who doesn’t play nicely with others and he just goes to work and home and “plays the game” yeah… you may have trouble getting him to go to church.
So I’d like to say this. Church folk. You can’t apply the word to someone who doesn’t apply the word to their life. If they haven’t come into the knowledge of God, you can’t hold them to that standard. It isn’t fair. Stop doing that, or date someone from your church who you know is being taught the same thing. You can’t go to church, and come home parroting what the pastor said and expect them to live by that. They have to want to live that in their own life and it has absolutely nothing to do with you. So you also can’t take their non-acceptance personally, if you choose to be with someone who doesn’t want to go to church with you. You just can’t.
Over and over when it comes to dating in church, people throw around the phrase don’t be “unequally yoked.”
On the basic level, it means don’t date non believers. Some people are very strict on that. Others, not so much.
Some people feel unequally yoked may apply to education, income, social status and all sorts of things. So the interpretation has been totally stretched out beyond belief.
So church folks and non church folks… sound off. I’m curious to hear what you have to say. Are church girls/guys bending their beliefs so they can get a date, hoping they can change their partner later? Is it stupid to do that? Are they being impatient and not “waiting on the Lord?” Are you a guy? Do you feel pressure to go to church when you really don’t like it?