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I have a friend who is currently dating someone who is not a Christ follower. She knows I disapprove and, because of this, I haven’t really talked to her in months because I don’t want to hear about their relationship. Am I wrong in not speaking to her? I don’t know how to be a friend without her thinking I’m OK with them dating.
It’s good that you are trying to figure out how to be her friend; however, not talking to her is probably not a great way to maintain the friendship or be like Christ to her, so let’s think through this situation logically…
You and I both seem to agree with Scripture that, as believers, it is best to partner with and marry “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7)—meaning that if one person believes in the Good News of Jesus and his or her life has been transformed by that belief and grace, then he or she should not compromise that belief by marrying someone who believes otherwise. It’s not to be close-minded; rather logic would cause most to conclude that chances for success in a relationship increase when you partner with someone who holds similar core beliefs.
It’s not close-minded; it just makes sense.
Therefore, because of your own experience with Jesus, it is totally understandable that your love for your friend (whom I am assuming also professes to believe) creates hesitation for you as she contemplates partnering in this life and raising a family with a man who doesn’t believe.
You probably know the verse in 2 Thessalonians 3 that says:
“If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.”
But before you become Miss Snubby McGee, keep reading.
“Yet, do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Commentaries to this passage point out that the “disassociation” is only for other believers and is not meant to shame permanently but to essentially say, “We can’t participate in this with you because we believe this is not wise for you, brother.”
“Brother” implies that while you don’t engage in what you perceive as sin, you are still treating this person as a part of the family. I love Eugene Peterson’s take on this verse in “The Message”:
“If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.”
Notice that last part? “Sit him down and talk.”
I believe Scripture is saying, “Look, don’t YOU start dating non-Christians just to make your friend feel comfortable. Duh. Set yourself apart.”
Then, actively and lovingly confront her in a way that makes her feel like she is still a part of the family.”
My guess is, being her friend isn’t causing you to spontaneously start dating people with the opposite belief system. Therefore, I would say more than ever you need to be her friend.
Not because you want to control whom she dates but because you want her to know and believe that what Scripture preaches is there to help her, not hurt her.
It’s logical for you to conclude that if she has truly been transformed by the love of God, she will want to partner with someone who also wants to take the hope of God to the world, but the reality is…
…she may not.
You must remember and give grace for the fact that people will choose to live their lives differently than you. People will interpret Scripture differently. Don’t run away from this.
Engaging in diversity of friendships is good because it helps us grow and figure out why and what we believe.
So chew on all that, and then consider saying something like the following:
“Nancy, (my standard default name) you know I love you and care about you. I am wrong for cutting off communication for a while. I was processing some things, but that is no excuse for not being a friend. Will you forgive me?
(If “Nancy” says yes:)
“Can I share what has been difficult for me?”
(If “Nancy” says yes:)
“Obviously this relationship you are in has been difficult because of the way I interpret Scripture and God’s desire for our lives. I would love to talk about this with you so we can both grow in our understanding of what we claim to believe. I don’t want you to feel defensive, but can we have an honest conversation about this sometime?”
If your friend says yes, then I suggest you prayerfully proceed. She may say no because she was hurt when you stopped talking to her or because she knows this current relationship may not be best. If that happens, you still shouldn’t get an attitude toward her.
You are called to love her.
From my heart,
p.s. For more thoughts on asking someone out who doesn’t “know” Jesus, click HERE.
What are some tangible ways that you can love your friends – really make them feel like “part of the family” – without condoning a behavior that doesn’t jive with your understanding of Scripture?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.