Should I Date An Unbeliever?

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Have you ever asked yourself if Christians should date non-believers? Maybe you’re new to the Christian life or you’ve been a Christian for a long time. If you’re a Christian churchgoer, you can ask the question, “Can a Christian date a non-believer?” Your pastor can give you a clear verse from the Bible indicating why the answer is “No, Christians should not date un-believers.”

However, I believe that after finding a Biblical answer to life’s questions, we can sometimes also see a scientific or practical reason to why things are so. God is so gracious to us that He does not tell us to “check your brain at the door”. Instead of God just saying “No, because I said so,” there are practical reasons why Christians should not date non-believers. We can think this through using our God-given logic. There are several reasons why Christians should avoid dating non-believers.

Dating can lead to marriage.

“Obviously”, you might be thinking. Here’s what I mean – one date can lead to another date, which can lead to another date, which can lead to a long term relationship, that can lead to moving in together. Unfortunately, this is not always a good thing. Some folks get locked into relationships where they just aren’t compatible or where one person wants a serious commitment and the other wants something casual. This can lead to resentment and tension from not being on the same page. Putting two people together who are Christians doesn’t guarantee a cakewalk, but it should make some pivotal conversations easier, or take them off the table entirely, because you have a common faith to work from.  “I can’t believe I wound up with this person” you might say, but it all started somewhere. Putting a little more thought into things on the front end might spare you a little heartache later on.

Are you looking for someone to share your values and worldview?

If you go beyond the surface of what a person looks like and the water cooler talk, what is this person really about? When their looks change, and both you and them have been through a major life change or two, what’s left? Do they share your values and your worldview? Will they still be interesting to talk to? If you’re a Christian and they’re a Christian, hopefully your faith will still be common ground for you both. Physical attraction is fun and important for the beginning of a relationship, but a person’s appearance can change over time. When the outside changes, will you still like what’s left on the inside?

It isn’t fair to ask (or expect) someone to change. 

I’m talking big, huge pieces of life here. If you’re a devout Christian dating a non-believer, you may have said that you don’t mind their belief system. And you are free to do as you wish. But deep down, in the secrecy of your own thoughts, are you wishing for a change? Are you hoping for that guy or girl to get saved? (If you love them, or even just like them, you are.) Are you hoping they’ll change from being an atheist to a believer and just accept Jesus? I hope with you for that to happen but I also know that staying stuck there in that situation is an unhappy place. Pray for them, love them from a distance, but don’t do “missionary dating”. Don’t hope for them to convert while you’re dating them. It’s not fair to them or to you.

Dating a non-believer makes chastity more difficult.

Similar to expecting people to change, it’s hard to stay on track with trying to practice chastity if you’re dating someone who doesn’t value that goal. Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they’re interested in abstinence, but for the most part, there’s a worldview that dominates the media when it comes to sex: if both parties consent, it’s fine. This opposes the Christian worldview as laid out in the Bible that says it’s not fine until you’re married. Even if you want to. Even if you’re in a committed relationship. Teaming up with an unbeliever is really pointless if you’re serious about chastity and abstinence.

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Fearless

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Decisions can be laced with anxiety. Do I take that job? Do I move forward in this relationship? What should I major in? Where should I go to school? Is this the right time to move? These are all major choices in our lives that can close one door, open another, and make us wonder if we’re on the right or wrong path.

If you grew up in a church where there was a lot of talk about “God’s will for your life”, you might be totally confused about how you’re supposed to make the right decisions in these big moments. The Catholic Church refers to the process of involving God in our big decisions as discernment, and I love how this process has helped me with getting and keeping God involved with the uncertainty that is so abundant in life.

Father Mike Schmitz breaks it down to what I like to call “the four doors of discernment” that can be very helpful with the big, tough decisions. Take these questions and apply it to what you’re considering. With the choice that you’re considering, ask yourself, in this order:

  • Is it a good door?
  • Is it an open door?
  • Is it a wise door?
  • Is it a door that I want?

These points seem so obvious at first glance, but it’s tougher when you actually take the steps and do it. When you’re done, it can take a a lot of weight off your shoulders and give you confidence that you’ve made the right choice.

The first point is the easiest – is it a good door? At first glance, we can usually tell if the Bible speaks for or against something. We know if a choice is to steal, cheat, or lie. Those are never good doors. But the big choices in life often have nothing to do with that. So it’s on to the next question: is it an open door? This is where things change. If every school you’ve applied to has turned you down, then it’s a closed door. If every school has sent you an acceptance letter, those are all open doors. That’s where choices start to be made, with the next step: is it a wise door?

Knowing if a choice is a wise one, this is where things get tricky. Is there any reason why something wouldn’t be a wise choice? Would it be wiser to stay or go at this season of your life? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your own character that you have that would make this the best decision? Is this a wise choice, or are you choosing it out of a desire for a short-term fix, rather than a long-term answer? What are all the consequences of your potential decision? Anything you haven’t considered that a wiser person might be able to give you insight on? Have you sought counsel from someone who seeks to live according to God’s values, someone like a mentor, parent, or friend? These are some questions we can ask ourselves.

The last discernment question Father Mike gives us is probably the most surprising: Is this a door that I want? Our Heavenly Father is so gracious to us that He wants us to have freedom in our lives. He wants us to have life. He wants us to love and be loved. We have choices, many choices, although these choices can be overwhelming at times. We get to choose, and choose often. It is with this freedom that we are given the promise of Isaiah 41:10, that tells us “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.”

When we have considered the significant decisions in our lives, sought out wise counsel, and covered our decisions in prayer, the discernment process can help us make wise decisions. We can be confident, bold, brave, and fearless.

 

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories for Children

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What’s your favorite Bible story? Do you remember the first time you heard it or what you thought about it?

If you grew up in church your answer might be very different from someone who came to faith as an adult.

If you come back (or do a first read of) some classic stories in the Bible – stories that most people know about, like Noah building the Ark or Adam and Eve in Creation or Jesus’ birth in a manger – reading these stories as an adult can be like seeing them all over if you read a version written for a child’s eyes. This was my impression when I reviewed 100 Bible Stories for Children, published by Tyndale Kids. I loved how this collection kept the integrity of the Bible by keeping the stories in the order that they appear to us today, in a “grown-up” Bible. I also liked how they also included stories that I hadn’t heard in a long time, like Elisha replacing Elijah, Jacob stealing a blessing, and the story of angry King Saul. And I loved how it took pieces out of stories that could raise an adult’s eyebrows – like how Esther becomes Queen because her future husband gets furious at his wife for humiliating him in public after a week-long drunken feast – and it takes these same stories and doesn’t omit the truth, but explains things in a kid-friendly way. (King X got tired of his wife. Really sounds simple, doesn’t it?)

I highly recommend this book for any parent, Sunday School teacher, or anyone who wants to teach young kids about the Bible. I can easily see young kids being fascinated by these stories and the pictures that go along with them. And I can see a book like this becoming part of a parent-child storytime routine… where Mom or Dad gets to tell a story again or even learn it for the first time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

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Master Your Money by Ron Blue Book Review

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Do you feel like your money is in charge of you, instead of you being in charge of your money? Do you ever wish that you knew how you could master your money?

Entrepreneur and accountant Ron Blue has a few ideas in his new book Master Your Money. This is a re-vamped version of a previous edition published in the late 80s. This time, he’s made some updates, adding personal reflections to the end of each chapter. He’s also added a special writing partner, his son Michael Blue, to add commentary at the end of each chapter.

Master Your Money offers a decidedly  Christian perspective with a heavy emphasis on the spiritual aspect of money management. Probably the biggest takeaway from this book is the idea of stewardship: that God “owns it all” and that people don’t truly own their money or possessions, but are simply caretakers of the things they have. The second takeaway is the huge emphasis placed on giving. Blue talks about giving and goes beyond emphasizing tithing as important, but states that is is the first purpose money should be used for in a budget  (even before taxes, and states that tithing should be done from gross instead of net income). He discusses estate planning for charity and making faith pledges beyond what you think you can give (to help your city, the world, orphans, the poor).

There are some changes that could have been made to this book to make it stronger. There are two big issues that people in this country are suffering from financially that aren’t addressed at all in this book, which could have been updated: student loan debt and health care costs. Blue talks about types of debt, but leaves student loan debt completely out of the picture, which is concerning given that student loan debt cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. This is a critical issue given that so many students have defaulted on their student loans and are overextended. Another issue that needs further addressing is rising health care costs. The sample budget given for health care costs seems low given that families are experiencing increased costs in the areas of premiums, drug costs, etc. This is not a political issue but a financial one, and to not address it doesn’t give an accurate picture of what everyday families are up against in their personal finances.

Another strange part about this book is in the sample budget, there’s a line item for “margin” – a 2 percent category for a family to help them increase their cash flow. Yet, there is no line item on the sample budget for saving money for the future. When savings is not automated or made intentional in some way, it doesn’t happen. I don’t know if this “margin” category is the author’s way of saying “savings”, but it seems odd that a financial expert wouldn’t urge people to be intentional about creating an emergency fund of some kind, when so many people probably do not have one. Furthermore, I’m not sure why the author wouldn’t encourage people to save more than two percent of their budget when he is urging them to give 10 percent to others. The Biblical mandate is to provide for your own household or you are worse than an unbeliever… how can a wise person prepare for the hard times that will inevitably come in the future without making plans?

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Master Your Money from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

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