Why I Won’t Date You (an imaginary letter to a non-Christian)

Dear …

I am writing this to let you know why I won’t date you. It’s not because I don’t like you. I do. I really do. And it’s not because I don’t care about you. That goes without saying. In fact, it’s because I like you and care about you so much that I would like you to know why I can’t and won’t date you.

I know a decision like this is open to so much misunderstanding. I sincerely hope and pray that you won’t misunderstand me. I’ve thought hard about this and would like to share with you what are not the reasons why you and I can’t have a romantic relationship:

1. It’s not because I am judging you as a non-believer. 

I know it may seem so judgmental that I would exclude you as a potential partner over the issue of belief or non-belief. But please hear me that I don’t think less of you because you’re not a Christian. This is because being a Christian doesn’t make me or anyone superior in any sense. We recognise that we are all hopelessly broken before God and it takes the generosity and grace of God for anyone to be a Christian. I can’t judge you any more than Jesus judged those who were considered by his contemporaries to be on the ‘outside’.

2. It’s not because I don’t think you can change for me.

I do believe that a degree of change and compromise is possible and necessary in any intimate relationship. However, to expect you to change the most fundamental orientation of your heart to embrace Jesus as a believer is something that takes more than just superficial adjustments. It’s neither fair nor loving for me to put that pressure on you or to give you the impression that you have to become someone you’re not in order for our relationship to thrive.

3. It’s not because I’ve been pressured by my Christian friends.

The Christian community (church) I belong to has lovingly taught us about the kind of relationships that God wants for his children. However, I have not been pressured or guilted to make a decision like this. My Christian support network are there to help me and I am glad that they are doing what’s most loving, both for me and for you, in helping me make a decision like this. But this is no cult. It’s not brainwashing. It’s not control. It’s simply my wonderful church family giving me the strength to make a decision I am personally convinced is the right one.

I hope that clears up some of the potential misunderstandings. Those are not the reasons why I won’t go out with you. Let me now share with you what are the reasons why this decision is important for both me and you:

1. Dating is not an end in itself. Marriage and family are my goals for a romantic relationship.

I’m not going to date anyone just because it’s a bit of fun. That would be selfish of me and unloving to you. No. My view of dating is on the road towards something more permanent and more wonderful: God’s gift of marriage and children. For me to date you with the condition that I would marry you only if you became a Christian would be a way of ‘using you’ in the meantime for my own romantic indulgences. You need to know that for me, dating is the beginning that has an ending.

2. There are choices that you won’t want me to make when we are married.

As a Christian, Jesus isn’t just a part of my life: he is my life. He is my first love, my greatest joy and the source of my identity and happiness. Were we to have a successful and happy marriage, either I would have to put Jesus beneath my love for you, or I would have to put you beneath by love for Jesus. Unless we both share a love for Jesus, it cannot be both. I take it that you don’t want me to have to make a choice like that every single day of our lives together as husband and wife.

3. While you may be happy just being supportive of my love for Jesus, I want more than support to make a family work.

I have no doubt that you won’t get in the way of my faith. In fact, I know that you’ll even make the effort to occasionally come to church with me. I have no doubt that my Christian friends will love and accept you as one of their own. But consider this: one day we will have children. As a family, I don’t want my children to be confused about the importance of Jesus in our lives. I can only be a good parent if I am lovingly leading my children to share in my passion for Jesus. As any parent knows, children know how to ‘divide and conquer’. If our children know that Jesus is important to me but not to you, they will use that to their advantage. I don’t want to fight you every Sunday when the kids don’t want to go to church and cite our difference of beliefs as an excuse. I want us to work together for the growth of our children: not just physically and educationally, but spiritually as well.

I know that perhaps from where you’re standing now, these aren’t going to seem like insurmountable problems. It’s because you like me and are attracted to me. And nothing seems insurmountable at this stage. But I want us to take a longer-term view of our relationship. What happens when the attraction wanes and the grind of making a marriage work sets in? What happens when your willingness to go along with me to church now is tested by busyness, career, tiredness and hobbies? I don’t ever want to have a niggling sense that my spouse wishes I were someone else or had different beliefs or was less passionate about Jesus. Conversely I don’t ever want you to think that I would love you more if you had different beliefs or could be more accommodating to my beliefs.

In the end it comes down to something I already mentioned: Jesus is my life. He’s more than a religious conviction; he is everything to me. If I am to grow in my passion for him when he isn’t your all-consuming passion, we will necessarily grow apart. How can I lovingly and knowingly subject my future spouse to increasingly occupy the fringes of my affections? I can’t do that to you and won’t do that to you.

So please understand why I’ve decided as I have. I would love nothing more than for you to one day share in my love for Jesus, but I don’t want to make that a condition for our future life together. That is a decision that you have to make independent of any pressure from me. That’s why it’s a decision you are most positioned to make if we weren’t already in a romantic relationship.

With love and prayer,

….

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About Pete

I am a child of God, a husband, a father of four children, a pastor, and a church planter. I live in Sydney Australia and live to see Jesus made famous in this city and be the only God people worship.

Posted on November 10, 2012, in Christian Living, Relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Replace “God” or “Jesus” with any other form of addiction and this “letter” still holds true. At some extent everyone would prefer to date someone that shares their hobbies. However, only addicts would exclude people because they don’t have the same convictions. With more life experience you will find out that it doesn’t matter what belief, color or political conviction your partner has as long as he/she respects yours.This is why atheists don’t have to be pretentious about their (lack of) beliefs. It’s hard enough to concentrate on real friends without imaginary friends messing up your judgment of people.

  2. Erik, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of what he wrote :/

    I guess its true that it “doesn’t matter” if what matters is an issue of amicable conversation (very meaningful conversation even). But I think the logic here refers to something much more fundamental. It’s not an external thing like a hobby or an addiction, its something internal.

    Life experience might teach you that its a polite thing to do to keep mum about your friend’s bad habits so you won’t offend him and things will be kept on a safe level. But its so much less pretentious if you tell him outright about it, because you care.

    I think its this sort of authentic, genuine Love that makes friends real.

  3. Oh my goodness. ‘But its so much less pretentious if you tell him outright about it, because you care.’ Being less pretentious doesn’t make it any more of a sensible and sensitive thing to tell someone. I’m with Erik on this.

    Please for goodness sake don’t ever list the above when breaking up with someone. If you’re gonna break up with someone of a different religion, tell him/her its because you have different lifestyles. Don’t tell him about your love for Jesus. (trust me, don’t. I’ve once tried telling this girl I had to break up with her because of my love for crystal meth and black tar heroine.. didn’t work out too well).

    That was just a joke, simmer. Listen here, and delete this comment if you will. I was born and raised Christian for 17 years of my life. I don’t know the answers, and I just want to find some. I really can’t imagine a Christian sitting down with me to figure everything out. Do what you will and sit on your high horse about how you don’t want someone to change for you, but don’t tell me its because you care for the person. The best significant other in my opinion would SIT DOWN with me and research and study out everything. IT REGARDS LIFESTYLE FOR THE REST OF OUR EARTHLY(you mentioned marriage) LIFE AND POSSIBLY EVEN OUR AFTERLIFE. YOU’RE GONNA TELL ME YOU CARE FOR THE PERSON BY NOT DATING THEM AND LEARNING TOGETHER WITH THEM?

    TALK ABOUT PRETENTIOUS

    • Yeah you’re right, being less pretentious does not mean its a more sensible thing to do… And actually we’re kidding ourselves if we say its because we care about the person because a part of saying such things when in the context of such relational messiness is really just ourselves being selfish. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

      Sorry for being clinical with things haha… But I don’t think the article is stopping Christians from sitting down to research with the other party? I suppose its better if this thing is done in the context of a community because you know, things can be awkward if you stop dating and still spend lots of time together (I’m assuming that this is a case of two individuals who -already- got themselves into an emotional mess)

      And by the way, you are very, very right that no Christian should sit on a high horse to say he or she knows all the answers. Talk about pretentious indeed.

  4. I think that is load of rubbish there Peter, especially your sermon which included some inaccurate Japanese bashing stuff .

    Check the facts before you brain wash people please .

  5. Great way of presenting a delicate topic. Thanks!

  6. Ya know, I feel the same way…about believers. I could not respect someone who insists on being an adult and still believing in fairy tales enough to have their whole life based on it enough to date them.

    • Imaginary huh lol ok, if this isn’t a clear example of why Christians should not be equally yolked with an agnostic non believer, what can I say. Some unbelievers might be brutally honest to your face as Mark here said but they do think it. Scripture is clear : For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7 ESV)
      Mark thinks we live in La la land, I believe he is foolish to claim that no higher being God exist. He definitely has no base to clams that Christ did not exist. Historical documents point other wise. Ok I’m getting off topic.
      God does tell us to not be unequally yolked , and why would want to? It’s bad enough that we have two sinners come together and there will be problem. But why add to the problem by becoming one with a person who has NO bases for morality? I’m not saying Atheist-Agnostic can not be moral and some probably do have higher morals than some who claim to be Christian. But non believers have no foundation on why have morality. And most important they have not been given a new heart ” granted repentance” that leads to eternal life. They are naturally hostile towards their creator. They say there is no God by their actions. I know very few will listen to what I say and agree and I expect this.

      • I agree that Christians should not be “yoked” with atheists. I don’t think people should be “yoked” with anyone, though arranged marriages still happen. Ugh. As for your Bible quotes, I have this to say:

        This is a collection of short stories, parables and fan fiction with the goal of infecting the reader with the God virus. It doesn’t work very well on its own so we have invented religion to make it structured with intermediaries to tell you what the book means and to cherry pick “the good stuff” to keep the “flock” happy. To regard the Bible as a historical document is laughable. Stories written by people who didn’t understand how the world works and nothing more. There is no doubt that the stories are based on word-of-mouth interpretations of history but in many cases the stories were written generations after the events they purport to document. As to the quoting you do, this book tries to convince people that it must be followed, what else would you expect except for the self-promotion through the denigration of those who refuse to blindly follow its tenets? And the presuppositional apologetic argument for absolute moral authority is nothing more than a smokescreen…it has been demonstrated that animals other than humans demonstrate what you might term “moral” behavior. Moral behavior is the natural product of a social species. The attempt to define a god into existence using logical and linguistic prestidigitation fails at the very first sentence…I’ve seen enough videos of “Dr.” William Lane Craig and his ilk presenting this and the other presuppositional apologetics to know nonsense when I hear it. This week’s “The Atheist Experience” is actually about this particular issue, you can hear the arguments (discussions) here:

        http://www.atheist-experience.com/

        Worth a listen, both sides are presented.

        As to your eternal life comment, it just demonstrates Christopher Hitchens’ description of Christianity’s core tenet…you are born sick and commanded to be well. If I wrong someone, I am going to apologize to them, not to some hypothetical uberman in the sky. THAT is the truly moral thing to do…to do good things for the sake of doing good without expectation of reward, not in the anticipation of some paradise after you die. That logic flies planes into buildings and straps bombs onto martyrs…because everyone’s idea of what “good” is seems to depend on the dogma of the particular delusion they subscribe to.

        We are born from atoms created in the most violent explosions in the universe. The hydrogen atoms in our bodies have existed, unchanged, for nearly 14 billion years. And all of this comes together, for a short time, to make a being capable of understanding its true nature. This short time we get, this brief glimpse at the wonder of the universe before our atoms rejoin the earth is what makes life precious. Wasting it in waiting for some fantasy next-life is a real tragedy. Make the most of THIS life while treating others the best you can because our shared humanity is what makes meaningful morality truly possible.

  7. And there is nothing wrong with judging, scripture clearly tells us to judge righteously. When choosing a mate we all judge, we see the persons character. This is nothing I’m better than you judgment. It’s a righteous judgment. Would you date a unrepentant rapist? Unrepented adulterer? How about a unrepentant liar? Well a non believer is unrepentant on breaking the number 1 commandent. So do we judge? Yes Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24 ESV) yes I know there is other parts in scripture that says “do not judge” but like any other book one must take things in context, what the author meant in those text. People have been known to misquote the bible more than any other book in history. I won’t date a non believer because the marriage covenant I make with God is very important. And that covenant is between 3 Wife, Husband and God. Marriage is not about filling ones void. Marriage is about selflessness. That’s what the world does not understand and sadly equally some Christians don’t understand. Marriage has become narcessistic. In other words ME, ME ME!!! He/she doesn’t sexually fulfill ME, He/she bores ME, he/she ignores ME, He/she doesn’t have anything in common with ME. If your view in life is only ” I have to look out only for myself” approach, do not get married or do not get involve with in a relationship with no one else. You will not only destroy your own life, but be destructive to the other person. And this is the cause of today’s high divorce rate.

    • *errors fixed. I meant the covenant is between 3 persons, Which include 1 woman, 1 Man and God.

      Second * Narcissistic … It was misspelled

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