>Star Crossed Christians?

Posted: 22/04/2011 in boundless, love, marraige, relationships

>As I wandering through Sunae, in Korea, I was listening to another episode of the Boundless show. The hosts were having a round table discussion on who to date and who not date. There is, after all, a tendency of some people not to date anyone unless they know everything about the other person, from their denomination to their sexual history. Boundless thought, correctly, that this is unreasonable. It was their opinion that the criteria of who is eligible for an eligible date boils down to one thing: is that person a Christian?

This a good thought, but you can’t help but wonder if it is that simple. Evangelical Christians and non-Evangelical Christians should be able to enter into a relationship. Yet simply adding religion to a relationship creates an entire spider web of issues that must be dealt with one way or another. Can Evangelical Christians and Non-Evangelical Christian date? (note, I’m asking about romantic involvement prior to marriage, not marriage.)

On facebook, my friends Andre and Nicole rightly mentioned that the terms need a bit more qualification. As a starting point for discussion here are three different pairs of potentially star-crossed lovers. Let’s assume that all couples here are in their 20s and have never been married.

First, She’s new to Seattle and joined Mars Hill Church! He’s a nominal Methodist. They met at a friend’s birthday. Star-crossed?

Second She came from a Catholic high school and he’s a big fan of Rob Bell! They both attend UC San Diego! Star-crossed?

Third He’s from the PCUSA and a conservative Calvinist. She’s from Calvary Chapel. They’ve both been in marathon training. Star-crossed?

So the door is open for discussions. Ponder a bit before you respond. Also, don’t feel like you have to share you own observations and experiences, though it would be nice to see some real life examples here.

For my part, there is one thing worth mentioning. One of favorite theologians once explained that Aristotelian Love is “like seeks after like.” Christian love includes this, but it must go one step further. Christian love loves what is different, alien, and foreign.

In light of that I would like to believe that I am still open to dating an Evangelical despite shedding the Evangelical mantle years ago. Yet I am not naive. I know that evangelicalism has its own list of customs, expectations, and rules that I am not sure if I could fit into.

Yet there is hope. As I type this, I have one friend who is engaged to someone outside of his tradition. He is not the first either.

I look forward to everyone sharing their thoughts, especially those long explanations hinted at on facebook.

  1. >I am annoyed at Christian dating. If Christ wasn't such a big deal to me I would forgo dating Christians altogether. Honestly.The thing that bothers me the most is that there seems to be this general assumption that JUST because two people believe in Jesus, they are going to get along GREAT. This is simply not true. There are plenty of people who are Christians and I just CAN'T STAND them. For example: I met this guy on a dating site one time. At the time, I was new to the experience so I basically talked to him because I would have felt bad just refusing to. After many conversations we found out that we actually attended the same church. Oh my Gawd, He was ecstatic. I'm sure he was CONVINCED we were going to get married. At least he seemed to think that we would be best friends. I didn't go to church for a month for fear of running into the guy. People say (and I went to a Christian college) that they want to marry a Christian because "at the end of the day we are both leaning on the same thing" and all that jazz. WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT! What happens when you find out your husband has a porn addiction? Will you meet at the cross then? What happens when your in-laws are unpleasant and abusive people? What happens when things get HARD? I'm sorry, but you can't just lean on the cross together when you are just TIRED of being married. You can't lean on the cross together when you CAN'T STAND to look at that person anymore. You can't lean on the cross when he/she cheats on you. You can read all this and say "oh that will never happen to me." You know what? Chances are it will. Chances are you have NO EFFING CLUE how much work it is to be married. You don't get to make your own decisions anymore. You never get to make a decision about your life without considering this other person as well. EVER. Of course you never think unpleasant things will happen when you're in love. But hard times happen.

  2. >Part Two:So how does all I said apply to dating? Well, when you date someone just because they're a Christian I think there are a lot of assumptions you're going to make, and therefore a lot of issues that are important that aren't going to be talked about or brought up until you've already invested a lot into the relationship. I've dated plenty of non-Christians, and through those experiences I have learned a lot of things that are extremely important to me in a relationship. I DO want to end up with a man who believes the same things I do. Someone who is also in the process of figuring out what it means to let Christ help us become fully human. But I also have a good grip on the personality traits that I want and need in a man. Very few of the men that I met at the Christian college I attended had the traits I need from someone to be in a successful committed relationship. I think a LOT of the people who got married right before/after graduation looked over a LOT of flaws because "we both love Jesus – what else matters?" One person I knew married a man who was studying to be a pastor and after they married took complete control of everything she ate to make sure she lost weight so she would be the "perfect pastor's wife". They were married for a year. Then he divorced her. And last I heard he was trying to go to seminary. They dated because they were attracted to each other and they both loved Jesus, so what could go wrong. In her mind, he was the "perfect Christian guy." I mean, he was studying to be a pastor. How could anything go wrong with him? It was the assumptions they made about each other that caused them to be blind to the other's flaws. Major flaws. Did I mention the college I attended has a 75% divorce rate among its students that marry? Apparently this dating-and-marrying-just-because-two-people-are-Christians thing doesn't work too well.I think anyone that dates someone or doesn't date someone just because they are or are not a Christian is a COMPLETE IDIOT.And that's my two cents. 🙂

  3. Jin-roh says:

    >Your statistic regarding our alma mater saddens me. But that is nothing compared to how horrified I am about the pastor and his perfect "pastor wife."

  4. Jin-roh says:

    >err, I should say "would-be" pastor.

  5. Sasha says:

    >I think sometimes Evangelicals are a little bit naïve about what non-Evangelical means. I think sometimes they think it means someone who believes all the same things they do, but just goes to a really stuffy church full of old people where they sing hymns and everyone genuflects and crosses themselves.This is actually a Baptist. *Zing!* (OK, fine, Baptists don’t genuflect or cross themselves, and plenty of Baptist churches do contemporary worship. (Also, Baptists are Evangelicals.))Evangelicalism is, by definition, commitment to a set of ideas that limits the possibility of other ideas. In other words, Evangelicalism equals varying degrees of close-mindedness. By the way, I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. I have respect for dedication to God, and for Evangelicals, being committed to living by certain ideals – holiness – is how that’s done.Being a non-Evangelical means one is not bound to those specific ideas that preclude other ideas. Which means that a non-Evangelical could very well believe things that are very much at odds with typical Evangelical beliefs.Let's look at some specific examples:* She’s Charismatic and he doesn’t speak in tongues* He’s pro-life and she volunteers for Planned Parenthood* She believes homosexuality is a sin, but gay rights is on of his “pet causes”* He believes homosexuality is a sin and she is bisexual* She attends a Friends church and he believes in transubstantiation* He is a creationist and she is an evolutionist* She believes premarital sex is wrong but he wants to cohabitate* He is suspicious of other religions and she is a yogi/Christian Buddhist, etc.* She has conservative views on sex, but his parents (also Christians) run an adult store* He is trying to keep himself sexually pure, but she is fond of wearing low-cut blouses* She wants to go on a missions trip, but he is rather disillusioned with missionaries* He passes out tracts with his youth group once a month, but she’s “not into that”* She believes in biblical inerrancy; he thinks it’s the word of God but flawed by human influence* He believes the rapture is imminent; she doesn’t believe in the rapture* She believes following Jesus is obeying the Bible, but he thinks the only important rule for today is “love God and love your neighbour”* He believes the church is for evangelism; she believes it’s for effecting social justiceNote that I'm being generous by assuming the Evangelical in question drinks, smokes, dances, gambles, and cusses, or at least wouldn't be offended by these behaviours.Also note that any given non-Evangelical may or may not engage in any of these behaviours or have any of the beliefs above. Being a non-Evangelical is a negative definition, not a positive one.But here's my point. Not every single one of the above is a deal-breaker. (Actually none of the Evangelical beliefs above are deal-breakers for me specifically.) But there's a pretty good chance that some combination of my beliefs/behaviours will be enough to be a deal-breaker for any given Evangelical girl.Whereas a non-Evangelical is not committed to ideas that might preclude some of my beliefs, and is far less likely to be offended by me.So why make things harder on myself? It's difficult enough to find a compatible person as it is.

  6. >I agree with pretty much everything Sasha said. Basically evangelicals apply their very narrow view of Christianity to the entire world. If you don't agree with their views, then that means you're not "following Jesus" or you're "disobeying the Bible".And it's not just relationships. I had a very tiring friendship with an evangelical who would just spend most of it telling me how unbiblical I was or whatever.HOWEVER, if an evangelical can get past this need to inform the rest of the world that They Do Not Approve, it can work out just fine. So I guess it depends on how finicky the individual is.

  7. Heidi says:

    >Generally, I think people and their beliefs are too complex to generalize and say authoritatively that they should or should not date a certain type of person.But, I do believe that religious beliefs are a pretty important factor in picking a mate, so why waste your time with someone who outright doesn't believe the same thing? (And I'm not talking about some of the differences you gave examples of, I mean atheist and Christian, or Buddhist and Christian, or whathaveyou.) You'll probably just get your heart broken.

  8. >I really took a few days to think about this, because I didn't want to respond while sounding….anti-Evangelical. So, I hope I don't, yet at the same time, I realize that may be unavoidable.I believe any 2 self-actualized people can have a healthy and rewarding relationship. That said, I have yet to encounter any self-actualized Evangelical. I strained my brain for over 24 hours, and I still come up with not knowing one. I know many self-actualized people who identify as "Christian", but none that identify as purely "Evangelical".I think part of this is due to the fact that being self-actualized includes (but is not limited to) the acceptance and practice of knowing that: A) we are sometimes wrong, and know when we need to apologize and actually apologize when needed B) the universe is constantly growing and changing and we need to be constantly learning as humans.Evangelicals are rather against those two things. In my experience, instead of being open minded and embracing change, they are close minded, and instead of being willing to constantly learn and grow, they holdfast to traditions long dead. So…can an evangelical and a non-evangelical date? Sure, if the non-Evangelical wants to be constantly told how much they are not a believer if they dont do such-and-such a thing at such-and-such a time, or if they become one simply to shut the Evangelical up.

  9. Thusfar says:

    >Re the prevailing definitions of evangelicals and non-evangelicals… it is rather obvious who gets the rap. If you are 'open to change' and discard standards as society changes, who stands when it changes for the worse? Bottom line in the debate must surely be whether or not you accept the Word of God as the absolute truth. If you do, you have no choice but to submit to it, no matter what your preference or natural wishes or desires are. For instance, 'thou shall not commit adultery,' (even though you are heartily fed up with your spouse and very attracted to the office beauty) will control your actions, rather than the lust you feel. Righteousness is always condemning to looser behavior… it is a fact of life, even though the righteous person says nothing by word or gesture. Proof? Try to be a non-drinker at the office party. I, while laughing and having a ball, have had person after person urge me to drink, even to the point of pouring alcohol into my coke glass! For the true evangelical the dating issue is vital. Your whole mission in life is to serve God and obey His commandments. If you aren't careful you will be drawn away from your purpose. You spoke of a 'romantic involvement prior to marriage, not marriage.' Romance? Without a view to come together in marriage? Don't kid yourself. God gave us the desire to become one with another in love. If the love comes, there will certainly be the eventual 'coming together' sexually. Evangelicals are instructed to 'flee youthful lusts.' A true commitment to God and His Word will preclude dating just for the romance. It would be like going to the candy store, smelling candy, rolling it around in your hands and then not eating it! Get real! (Of course, the 'non-evangelical christian will not be disturbed by the possibility of a physical relationship outside of marriage developing, believing it to be healthy and or fulfilling.) We who believe the Word is ours from God remember His Words and try to keep them, though we fail miserably and often. Please understand. It is not us, the evangelicals, who say thou shall not… it is the Father!

  10. Jin-roh says:

    >Thusfar, thank you for comments.How do you feel about Stu's earlier comment? If you don't agree with their [the evangelical's] views, then that means you're not "following Jesus" or you're "disobeying the Bible".

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