Last week, as I was catching up with a Christian friend I hadn’t seen in ages, she told me that her HS son has a new girlfriend, “a very sweet girl, but not a Christian, she’s had no religious upbringing.”
What?? A Christian dating an unbeliever!! For some Christians, those are fighting words.
Many Christian parents pray for their babies’ spouses from the day their child is born, or perhaps even before. I started praying for my boys’ wives when the boys were toddlers.
I’ve had Christians tell me they forbid their children to date anyone who is not a Christian. I’ve known parents who have forced their child to break off relationships with unbelievers. And I’ve known Christian teens who sneak to spend time with their unbelieving boy/girlfriend.
My friend continued, “Because I’ve been praying for Christian spouses since they were little doesn’t mean they have to be full blown Christians when we meet them.”
No it doesn’t. And just because we pray, and hope, that our children will only date and marry Christians, it doesn’t mean they will.
So what happens when our Christian offspring brings home an unbeliever to meet mom and dad?
Let me first say that I would counsel any Christian man or woman against seeking, or entering into, a romantic relationship with an unbeliever. I would counsel against a believer marrying an unbeliever. God makes his position very clear in his Word and I believe it is sin to disobey this command.
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NLT
When Christians and unbelievers partner together there will be disharmony because their life trajectories are speeding toward different goals in opposite directions. The Christian’s purpose is to live for God. The unbeliever’s is not.
That said – if in their spiritual immaturity our believing sons and daughters decide they are attracted to an unbeliever, and enter into a dating relationship with them, wouldn’t we better serve the unbeliever if we put down our fists, our fiery rhetoric and our defensive posture and instead spent our energy on loving them?
Aren’t we behaving more like Jesus when we love the lost soul? Shouldn’t we commit, with our children and spouses, to let the light of God’s love shine through our family to illumine the darkness in which this person is living. Shouldn’t we include this person’s salvation in our family prayer time?
What if we thought of and treated unbelievers as “Pre-Christians” — souls who haven’t yet been “born again” — rather than condemning and banishing them?
“I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’” – John 3:5-7 NLT
Before a baby is born — though he or she is powerless — the baby has a brain, a precious heart that beats, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. The baby possesses everything that is necessary for life, and we do all that we can to insure a healthy child will be born.
If we thought of unbelievers this way, (as having everything they need for physical life, but powerless to give themselves spiritual life), we would do all we could to love and nurture these precious souls so that there might be a healthy “new birth” experience. We wouldn’t do anything to prevent a “pre-born-again” person from coming to know the Savior and receiving life.
Jesus went to great lengths to minister to, and save, powerless unbelievers.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” –Romans 5:6 NIV
If an unbeliever is attracted to your child, could it be that what the unbeliever finds most attractive is the God who lives inside your believing child? And, if this unbeliever finds your child’s Christian nature attractive, could it be that God is drawing the unbeliever to himself?
Whatever God may be doing, our treating any pre-Christian with contempt, rather than love, does not bring them into the Savior’s presence. Our responsibility is not to banish them but to introduce them to Jesus.
“Andrew, heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother… Then Andrew brought Simon. The next day Jesus …found Philip. Philip went to look for Nathanael. Come and see for yourself.” – John 1:40-41a, 42a, 43a,b, 45a (NLT)
What a joy and privilege God has gifted us with when he allows us the opportunity to introduce powerless people to the Savior; to peripherally assist in their born-again experience.
Who are the Pre-Christians God has brought into your sphere of influence? Are you nurturing them? Are you loving them? Are you praying for them? Will you do all you can to assist in their “born again” experience, especially if they are dating your child?