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what do you do if you are in a relationship with somebody, a christian, who a few months down the road starts to have serious doubts about their faith? i know we’re not supposed to be unequally yoked, but is it really the right thing to do to ditch someone because they’re questioning their beliefs? The disciples doubted Christ everyday, even knowing him in person and watching all his miracles..
Let’s get this straight right off the bat: a break up is not a divorce. You don’t have to fill out a form and give a cause. You can break up with someone for any reason you see fit, and you are under no moral or spiritual obligation to justify that decision to anyone. If you feel that you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone anymore, then it is not a wrong thing to do.
You are also setting a pretty ridiculously high bar if you will only break up with someone over a behavior that Jesus wouldn’t have put up with from the disciples. You are not Jesus, and you do not want the relationship with your significant other that He had with the disciples. I think a boyfriend denying publicly that he knows you or turning you over to the cops for silver would be behaviors that would certainly warrant a break up. The thing about Jesus’ earthly relationships is that He was needless, you are not. You have needs in a relationship, and you should break it off if those needs are not getting met.
It seems that you are afraid you will be thought of as mean or heartless if you dump this person when they are going through a tough time. What that doesn’t take into account is that you are not this person’s therapist or their babysitter, you are their romantic partner. If they are not holding up their end of that partnership, then you don’t have to stick around just because. You want someone who will help strengthen your walk with the Lord and help you serve Him better. You at the very least want someone who shares your values and worldview.
This person is not bad for going through a season of doubt. They are not cut off from God and they are, as you point out, certainly not the first person to go through this. But they are also not in a position to be a good significant other right now. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t, but you deserve someone who will give you their all and is in a position to be an able partner for you. You need to believe that and be willing to take the risk of ending the wrong relationship to find the right one.
-Matt from The Bridge
What happens if you get into a relationship with someone who is a Christian and then starts to have serious doubts about it a few months down the road?
Well there are a couple of pretty obvious answers to this question. The first one is talk to the person you are dating about how you are feeling and the doubts you are having. And then, depending on how strong your doubts are and how that conversation, there is a possibility you should break up with them. Those answers are obvious to the point that what we really need to look at is why you seem to be trying to avoid them.
There are not a lot of things about relationships that are universal, but one is that communication is of the utmost importance. If you can’t talk to someone about real feelings that you are having, unpleasant as they may be, then you cannot have a functional relationship with that person. The plan of just waiting for your doubts and fears to resolve themselves is something we have all tried, and it never works. I know the conversation will be uncomfortable, but life’s like that sometimes.
Having doubts does not necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. I know that people who write movies and people who write Christian dating books would have you believe that once love happens, there is never a moment of anything but rainbows and gentle music. Unfortunately, relationships that aren’t scripted involve real people and real people have moods, and insecurities, and doubts. Talking it out is the only way to resolve it, which is the only chance you have at the relationship moving forward in a positive direction.
And while we are on the subject of wildly unrealistic attitudes some Christians have about dating, a break up is not a failure of you two as human beings, it does not mean that you have given away a piece of your heart that you will never get back, or any other nonsense. A break up means that you made the determination that a relationship wasn’t working for you and you decided to end it. That is a good thing, that is a mature thing. Dating can lead to marriage, but agree to date someone is not some engaged to be engaged to be engaged promise.
Break ups suck, and they hurt, but they are not sinful. We Christians, as a culture, have a huge problem with confrontation. There are people who would rather everybody just be miserable in silence forever, than someone say something that will may hurt someone’s feelings, but will allow us to move on. A couple of years ago, I was dating a girl I was absolutely, out of my mind, head over heels about. She broke up with me. It wrecked me, but it didn’t make her a bad person. It made her a person who respected herself, and me, enough to not want to be in a relationship that wasn’t working for her. I could see past the hurt to respect why she made that choice.
Niceness is not next to godliness. If you want out of the relationship and don’t say anything out of guilt and fear, you will be shortchanging both yourself and your significant other. That is neither nice nor godly.
-Matt from The Bridge
Matt, are you familiar with Dean Sherman? I’m going through his Love, Sex, and Relationships series and he was talking about how some things we do can damage our will. I found out where my will is weakest: my ex girlfriend. Every time things get rough, I go back to thinking about her. We never had sex, but man, I start missing her really bad. I get all these negative thoughts that keep me away from God and distract me from what’s important. How do I deal with it? I need to let go and heal.
I am not familiar with Mr. Sherman or his work. So I can’t really speak to what lense you might be putting on this thing based on his writing, but I think we can take this thing on at face value.
It is totally understandable that your mind drifts back to your ex when things are not going so well. Now this is reading between the lines, and forgive me if I am wrong, but I am betting that by “things get rough” you at least partly mean when you are feeling lonely. Again, this is a totally natural and understandable reaction. If you are not happy with the way a certain area of your life is going, then one of the mind’s defenses is to wander back to a time when you were happy with that area of your life.
Now, the problem with that is two-fold. First, you probably weren’t as blissful as you recall being. This person is your ex for a reason, whether that is you ended it with them or they didn’t want to be in a relationship with you (and you don’t actually want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like you equally). So you are seeing things through the rose tinted glasses of hindsight. That isn’t super healthy because it might make actual relationships in the present, with their inevitable headaches and risks, seem like they can just never be as good as the imagined past.
The other way this might be messing you up is that you are spending too much time thinking about the past to spend any time thinking about the future. You seem to indicate this is the case in your question. So there is an easy fix to that: get some stuff to be excited about now and in the future. Start a project, or start up with a new ministry, or even ask out a new girl who want to get to know. The thing about these kind of distracting thought is that they tend to fill negative space.
To be clear, I am not saying you should just make yourself busy so that you never have time to think, that is not healthy. But you might take a look at what sparks your imagination and puts some fire under your rear end and start focusing on that. If you start pursuing an active, service oriented life; I am willing to bet that you won’t have room for things that are hindering that , including thoughts of your ex.
-Matt from The Bridge
I just got out of a relationship with a God fearing woman that seemed to be a launching point that brought me closer to the Lord. I am now trying to Love and Lift up my ex but it seems she wants nothing to do with me. I feel like I am pushing it to hard and not letting God work through me with the situation. But then there are times when I feel like He is putting it on my heart to keep trying for her. Any thoughts on what this means?
I don’t want to be harsh here brother, but I think you may be using “God is putting on my heart” as a cover for “I still have unresolved feelings for this girl”. The important thing to know is that those feelings are totally understandable. It sounds like the end of this relationship wasn’t your idea, so it makes sense that you can’t just throw the emergency brake on your emotions. That’s healthy, you shouldn’t be able just to turn emotions on and off.
Your goal to love and lift up your ex is a totally right one, but you might be going about it in the wrong way. Sometimes people (especially the dumped) think that a healthy break up is acting as close as possible to how you did when you were dating, probably sans-smooching. That is not a realistic or healthy goal. The fact is that she made a decision, and if you want any future relationship with her romantic or otherwise, you are going to have to respect her decision. To immediately try to scheme on getting her back sends the message “forget what you want, I’m about what I want”, and that attitude will only reinforce to her that she made the right choice.
1 Corinthians 13 gets mentioned a lot on Tumblr, and I think it is a good guide here. 1Cor13:5 says “[love] does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking”. So it is might be harsh to say that you are dishonoring your ex, but if you are not respecting a major life decision on her part, you are. So if you want to love your ex, and not focus on getting love from her, you should respect her wishes and give her some space. It will be better in the long run. Always choose respect.
-Matt from The Bridge