In my lifetime, I tend to have a lot of spiritual conversations with people that I’ve never met. I get pegged as the pastor or religious guy and then end up talking about some pretty sensitive and deep issues with people in the middle of a crowded room. Good thing I love it.
Last weekend I was at a friend’s birthday party and I got talking to this guy who found out I was a pastor and then wanted me to talk to his fiance about the Christian faith and why it was so important for her to have it. So the wife comes over and joins the conversation and I spent the majority of the first part of the conversation just listening to them express each of their sides and why they thought the other person was missing the point. The Christian guy just wanted his fiance to “have faith” and to accept God as a reality in her life because it meant so much to him. The girl, who has no religious upbringing, didn’t understand why it had to be his God, or his Bible, or his explanation of truth. She also didn’t want to get married in any kind of way that would offend or give a middle finger to her gay friends (by having the minister say that marriage was only between a man and a woman).
This conversation begun as the Christian trying to get me on his side to ‘make’ his fiance see that we were right and that she just needed to believe the way that he did. The conversation ended with me telling him that he needed to practice humility and do better at listening and seeing the world from another person’s shoes and admit that maybe she had something to offer to this conversation and that he didn’t have all the right answers. In what would normally be perceived as an opportunity to evangelize and gain a new convert, I couldn’t help seeing that the real conversion needed to happen to the Christian in this circumstance. His view was one sided, unsympathetic, over-powering and lacking compassion. The unbeliever in this case though was asking real questions, wanted truth and was wrestling with how to get there and how to oppress others along the way. The believer just wanted the unbeliever to believe what he absolutely knew to be true and the unbeliever wanted to know why and get to the heart of the issues and seemed to have a godly heart.
It was in that moment as the tables turned in that conversation that I realized that it wasn’t the Christian that was going to suffer by marrying an unbeliever. The general rule that is espoused throughout the church is that Christians shouldn’t marry non-Christians because it will drag you down. I’d like to offer another suggestion though to all that wouldn’t consider themselves a believer. Don’t be unequally yoked with believers. They could limit your search for truth and make it less likely that you will ever find Jesus or truth on your own. There is a chance that they will be full of ignorance and arrogance that their belief is the right one and demean you and your journey and not give you the room to explore a spirituality that you need. They may only try to introduce you too their version of Christianity and you might have to just sign on to be with the one you love. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it and they may in fact just drag you down to a level of intellectual stagnation that you would be ashamed of.