Ask Your Preacher
My boyfriend doesn't believe in God. Should I keep praying for him and hope for a change, or will being with him only hold me back?
Holding Too Tightly?
Dear Holding Too Tightly,
It isn’t wrong, but tread lightly. It isn’t a sin for you to have a boyfriend who isn’t a Christian, but it is important that you make appropriate boundaries. The Bible teaches that we should only marry someone if they are in the Lord (1 Cor 7:39). Marrying an unbeliever will tie you to someone who doesn’t have the same values as you (2 Cor 6:14). The progress of your relationship will eventually need to stall if he doesn’t obey the gospel. Religion is the most important factor in a marriage because it affects your morals, how you raise children, your finances, your hobbies, how you treat one another, and a thousand other elements of your future. Be very careful when courting an unbeliever.
I have been struggling with this for some time now. I could make this a much more detailed question, but I will try to shorten it the best way I can. When it comes to dating and meeting someone we hope to spend the rest of our lives with, is it wiser to allow things to happen on their own or to engage in things such as online dating? I realize that God allows us to help ourselves, but I often feel doing things such as online dating is perhaps just a way that individuals try to speed up the process and that it might inhibit natural occurrences (i.e. the real deal) from happening. Any feedback would be great.
The Bible gives no specific statements about how to look for a future spouse. Online dating is neither condemned nor endorsed by God’s Word. Rather than advocate one particular way to find a spouse, God instead speaks to the attitudes we must have and the dangers that exist in the world of romance.
- Don’t force it. Song of Solomon is an entire book devoted to romance and marriage. The chorus of that book is the same over and over (Songs 2:7) – it is a warning to avoid forcing relationships merely for the ‘fun’ of romance.
- Avoid all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22). Make sure to never put yourself in a situation with someone of the opposite sex that would compromise your (or their) reputation or morals.
- Who they are matters more than how they look. The Bible praises godly spouses for their character (Pr 31:10). Beauty fades, but one’s values endure. Make sure you are spending your time getting to know the person for who they are and for what they find important.
- Treat them with respect. The Scriptures tell us to treat people of the opposite gender like brothers and sisters (1 Tim 5:2). How would you want your siblings to be treated? Make sure you are behaving in a godly way toward anyone you are dating or courting.
- Surround yourself with godly advice. When we are in the here and now of a romantic relationship, we often get caught up with our emotions and lose perspective. That makes it especially important to get the advice of those around you who are wiser and less biased. Parents, grandparents, and other trusted advisors should be sought out as you search for a mate. Surrounding yourself with many good counselors protects you from making a emotional decision that has lifelong consequences (Pr 11:14).
- Last, but not least, we are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). God wants us to bring our concerns to him, and our desire for a godly spouse is no different. Pray that God sends you someone to faithfully be your mate for life.
Marriage is one of the greatest blessings that God gives mankind. If we do it God’s way, finding a spouse can be a joy and lead to a lifetime of happiness.
My boyfriend of thirteen years told me he can no longer have a relationship with me because I don’t attend church. He said I need to follow his path.
We would have to side with your ex-boyfriend on this… but give us a second to explain why. The end goal to your relationship is marriage, and ‘inter-faith’ marriages have disastrous results, an awful track record, and God warns against them. No matter how much you love each other, there are only four possible outcomes to a marriage between to people that don’t have the same spiritual goals, and only one of them is good:
- You eventually convert, obey the gospel, become a christian, and are saved (this would be a really GOOD outcome).
- He eventually forsakes the Lord, and you are both lost (BAD).
- You both make compromises in your beliefs, and neither of you is fully committed to anything (BAD).
- You both eventually renounce both of your belief systems, and are both lost (BAD).
The only positive outcome is the first one, and that isn’t any more likely to happen after you are married than before. From your boyfriend’s perspective, if you aren’t with him on this journey to serve Christ – neither of you is going to be happy, with potentially eternally disastrous consequences.
God warns against being ‘unequally yoked’ to someone with different values than you (2 Cor 6:14-16). Once you get married, you are ‘yoked’ to that person with a lifetime agreement. A godly marriage is designed around unity (Gen 2:24). If you aren’t unified on your core belief system, then everything else will be affected. Where will your children go to church? How much money will you contribute to church? What happens when you disagree on moral decisions – what is the standard you will use to come to an answer? These are just a few of the thousands of day-to-day problems you will run into. God tells us that a christian should marry someone ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 7:39). If you are serious about this guy, you need to ask yourself if it is worth looking into Christianity to see if there is a reason that this wonderful man finds it so important. Either way, you are both better off knowing where you stand before entering into a heartbreaking marriage.
Is it a sin to marry or have a relationship with your first cousin?
The Bible never condemns marrying your first cousin. Even in the Old Testament, the prohibition only extended as far as aunts and uncles (Lev 18:12-14). It isn’t a sin to marry your first cousin. In fact, it hasn’t even been culturally taboo for very long. Even two or three generations ago, it was much more common to marry a first cousin. Today, it is an odd thing to see a first cousin marriage, but it isn’t wrong. Cultures change all the time, and this is a cultural issue, not a Biblical one.
My mom was adopted, so we don't know her family history well. What would you do if you found out your boyfriend of twelve years maybe your cousin? We have no children together. He doesn't know we may be cousins... we live together... WHAT DO WE DO FROM HERE?
Dear Regretful Researcher,
The very first thing you need to do is stop living together before you are married. More important than any biological issues your future children may have, you are sinning, and that is much worse than any physical problem. The reason people don’t get married – but instead (outside of marriage) have sex, live together, have children together, and eventually destroy their lives – is because we spend our lives making up the rules as we go. We live our lives by the “what-makes-me-feel-good-right-now” philosophy. We have no real standard to live by other than what we feel at the moment. Like Pilate, we ask, “What is truth?” (Jhn 18:38) because we don’t know where to find the right answers to life. How can we know what is the right thing to do? Only the Creator can give us a rulebook for life that allows us to comfortably say, “I’m making the right choice.” Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (Jhn 14:6). All the answers to life are found in His Scriptures (2 Pet 1:3). If we want our relationships, our families, our careers, and our lives to work, we have to use the manual.
Biblically, there is nothing wrong with marrying your cousin – people did it quite commonly just a couple generations ago. You would have to consider the medical ramifications of having children, but that is a medical decision – not a moral one. As we said, more importantly than anything else is that you make your lives right with God.