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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?

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11 thoughts on “God, Dating and That Unequally Yoked Business…

  1. This is a really good post and something I struggle with. I am a preachers kid so I’ve been a part of church my whole life. Here is the thing though, I think we put a huge emphasis on going to church (which the bible tells us to do – forsake not the gathering of the saints, etc.) and NOT on a person’s relationship with God.
    When a person (man or woman) gets serious about their relationship with God and spends time with Him then He will guide and direct you. You will HEAR from him regarding the person you are dating and He will tell you if you’re going to be the one to lead that person to Christ or if you should leave that man (or woman) alone. The problem is for many of us (myself included) is that we hear Him and we do what we want anyway. We are so bent on having a man and keeping a man that we willfully ignore what God instructs us to do because – ultimately – we think we know what’s better for us than God.
    For myself, it has only been in the last 4-6 months that I have made chasing after God my priority really and truly. And, unfortunately, that means giving up some things that I used to like (like really like) to do – including drinking and pre-marital sex. But I can say that the turnaround in my life, the strengthened relationship with God, have been worth the sacrifice. I’m not saying that I don’t think about having a husband but now, instead of hashing it out with my friends I hash it out with God. I regularly pray that God would work on developing all of the characteristics of a good wife and give me understanding into what His word says and means about being a good wife (which is another post for another day).
    Far too often, we don’t completely trust God to send us a man who is also chasing after Him. And, at this point, that’s what I am doing. I am focusing on God and allowing Him to do the rest. Which means it’s going to take time and patience. It’s going to be uncomfortable. And, it probably is going to look crazy to people on the outside. But, I am fully persuaded in the knowledge of who it is that God called me to be – and two of those things are wife and mother. And, in that knowledge, I feel OK not saying yes to a date from everyone. I have no problem asking about your relationship with God (let’s face it – asking if you go to church doesn’t mean anything. Satan goes to church every single Sunday). And I pray and listen for an answer from God about said person. And, I know He will give one even if it is not at the very second that I want one. So while I wait for one I continue to train myself to hear Him so that when he does speak, I won’t miss it.
    I think lots of believers stay with non-believers more out of fear than out of thinking we’ll be the ones to lead them to Christ. I mean, are you leading every other person you know to Christ? What does your fruit look like? How many other folks’ salvation concerns you as much as your SO’s? EXACTLY. We (including myself) get scared of the prospect of singleness/aloneness and operate in that fear. We just call it a concern from the person’a salvation. When, in reality, we do nothing to make that person desire to know more about the Jesus we love so much. We can’t make people change – only God can. So I would suggest to your girlfriend that if she truly believes in her heart of hearts that this is the man God ordained for her and she wants him to change that she start petitioning God for the change and not blindside her man at church. When she sets her affections towards God, he’ll set his affections towards her and one of two things will happen: either her man will have a change that can only be credited to God OR God will give her the wisdom and ability to move on so that there is room for the person he truly ordained.
    Ok – whewwwww that was a blog post within a blog post. I just feel so passionate about this because it is something I have been praying and meditating about daily. And, I just hope that Christian woman are encouraged to work on themselves and to truly let go and trust God to do the rest. That my two cents plus, like, a dollar fifty.

    • I dont even know where to start Erika. You broke it down and I am a deacons daughter and a pastor’s niece. As you know, all eyes are on you and your family has high expectations. That’s another post. But you said sooooo many things that were spot on and things I forgot I wanted to mention because I got sidetracked to another thought. I loved what you said about winning souls period. Isn’t that the point? You just working on your SO but not applying that to all you come in contact with… yup! “Instead of hashing it out with my friends I hash it out with God” this is gold. I used to be too proud to pray about a man. I didn’t want to be that chick. But I pray about everything else. And we are supposed to bring Him EVERY THING! So im learning. Your post within a post was everything! “We hear him but we do what we want to do anyway” nuggets! I keep reading your response over and over. I so appreciate your comments. They have encouraged and confirmed things that as you said were things I was ignoring. If you believe God and what he says you believe him. I’ve trusted in Him for career things other life things and He showed up blessed me with crazy opportunities blessed me with great people to look after me. So how can I not trust Him with something as important as a mate? Girl, thank you! Wow.

      • I am glad you weren’t mad about my post in the post lol. This is just something that is so real for me right now! And I agree – we trust God on so much – why not this too?!?!

  2. Ebony Rose on said:

    So Erika just preached a sermon and I have nothing to add. She summed it up. Great topic/post!

  3. Ok one last addition to my “post within a post.” This am 2 Cor. 6:14-18 was the focus of my morning devotional (called “Happily Ever After” in YouVersion) and when I read it in The Message translation it blew my mind wide open.
    Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.” The Word of the Master, God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 MSG)
    When I read it in this translation it just became so very clear and logical. I’ve always known what that scripture says but I feel like God just made it so plain for me. I just wanted to share it with you girls.

  4. You and Erika are absolutely right on all of these points! What I will add to the discussion is that I find that as I continue to grow in my relationship with God, my conversation begins to include Him more and more naturally. That’s with friends and family and also with anyone that I’m dating. So whether I’m sharing testimony with a guy or just talking casually about what my day included the day before (which more often than not these days includes some personal time I spend in conversation with God), that guy is going to hear about my relationship with God a lot. And I will very quickly be able to discern if we’re like minded in this journey or if we’re not meant to be on the same path. But that discernment and the wisdom/courage it takes to follow it ultimately comes from continued prayer.

    For me, I know I’m happiest when I can have conversations about God with the guy I’m dating. I’ve done it the other way before where either I didn’t want to bring it up for fear he would be uncomfortable or for fear I’d come off like some holier than thou woman, and it didn’t feel right. And even just on a basic/superficial front, I also didn’t feel like we were able to connect as deeply, mostly because I think to truly know me, you have to understand how important God is to me. All that to say, I am all too aware of why you’re not meant to be with someone who isn’t “equally yoked” even from just a practical standpoint as well.

    • That’s a very good point. And I do think people tend to “hide” their feelings about religion and spirituality because they don’t want to “scare” people off or have people lump them into the category of the “crazy holy roller” who is trying to change them or judge them.
      You are totally right. If God is a part of your life, you will mention it naturally. There are times I will just say, “I had to pray about it…” or “I gave it to God.” Or, “When it came to making a decision about my job, I said, Lord if there’s a reason these other jobs didn’t work out, you wanted me to stay where I am for another reason.”
      Now, consciously I wasn’t saying it to weed people out, it was the truth, but I’m sure it did convey to others that my spiritual life guides my life decisions and how I handle stress or difficult times.
      While I’d been online dating, I ran into a lot of new age type guys. And while I can respect their thirst for enlightenment and we can have really great discussions, on one hand they can understand that there is something greater and they can understand we all have a purpose on our lives, but there is still another kind of disconnect and they will shut down to the idea of God as Christians know it.

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