I really enjoy your blog and the sensible, wise advice found here – thank you. I find myself in a situation where I have two people in my life – a beautiful, Spirit-filled, Jesus-loving, living-my-calling Christian friend and a charming, sometimes challenging, sweet, motivated, inquisitive atheist. The latter seems to be interested in me, albeit expressing this is some childish, game-playing kind of ways. I love hanging out together – but I’m tired of being ‘played’. I wonder if the real question is whether I should even consider it as an option. My faith is the most important thing in my life and I always said I couldn’t imagine sharing my life (dating or married) with someone who doesn’t have the crucial thing in common. I am pretty attracted to the Christian friend I mentioned above but after almost a year of gentle flirting, shared passion for social justice, quick glances and touches in church and on ‘dates’ – nothing concrete has been discussed. (edited for length)
Well let’s take care of the simple part of this first: no you should not date someone who is not a Christian. Not because it is a sin, or because non-Christians are evil, but because, as you point out, Jesus is the most important thing about your life and a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about Him just isn’t going to work. Not sharing the bedrock of your life is a terrible base for a relationship. I get the distinct impression from your question that you know all this, so the real question is: why is that relationship enticing?
It seems to me like the biggest appeal that the non-believer in this situation has is that it seems like less work. Even if they are expressing interest in a childish way, they are still expressing interest. And, if you know in the back of your mind that you could never be serious with this person because of your faith, then that is even less pressure. The thing is, just because something seems easier does not mean it is better.
That leads us to take a look at the Christian friend situation. It seems like the one thing that situation needs is a direct conversation, and it might be up to you to initiate it. That explains why the other situation, where you are on the receiving end of that effort rather than having to do it yourself, is appealing. You seem to be frustrated withe the fact that nothing has happened. That is because things don’t “just happen” with relationships. There have to be moments of initiation, risk, putting it out there.
No matter what Christian dating books or romantic comedies tell you, friendships do not just turn into relationships. A friendship can lead to a relationship, in the same way that standing on a diving board can lead to being in a pool. You still have to make a decision and take the leap.
It is time to dial that flirting up a notch from gentle to “aww yeah”, remove the quotations marks from around “dates” and have a concrete discussion instead of waiting for one to materialize. I know it’s scary, but if you want something, and it’s pretty clear that you do, you have to put in the effort and take the risk.
-Matt from The Bridge