Only Jesus. Only Jesus is the explanation I give for my boyfriend accepting Christ over a year after we began dating. When I began dating my boyfriend, I was head over heels in love, I still am. Literally, one time he passed gas while we were snuggling on the couch watching a movie, and I didn’t know, and I said:” you smell good”. He laughed hysterically. I think he thought I was so in love I thought even his flatulence smelled good ( or I was just crazy), but I had no idea what had really happened until months later. This goes on to explain that when I asked him if he believed in God, and he responded flippantly with yes and said he went to the Catholic church when he lived in Germany as a child, I quickly dismissed his response as acceptable. That fact that he grew up in a church was a hard fact I could tell my parents, and that was all the mattered to me at the time. I knew he was a kind, caring, compassionate, patient and loving man. He was the most Christ-like non-believer. It was not until after a few months of dating and realizing that I may want to marry this man one day, that I realized how detrimental our religious differences could potentially be to our relationship and my relationship with Christ. Yes, my boyfriend believed in a higher power but did not necessarily believe in God. He did not know anything about Jesus and the Gospel other than the blasphemy the brickyard preacher had yelled at him during his time as a college student. (Brickyard preachers are enough to make any person that doesn’t know anything true about the Holy Spirit run far far faaarrr away.)
At hearing that his lack of belief in Jesus was mainly due not knowing about the free gift of eternal life given through the gospel, and just never thinking much about religion, I felt hopeful. In response, I insisted we start going to church on Sunday. I shared my testimony with him. I told him how I had seen Jesus work in my life in many ways. I tried to get him involved in student ministry, but it was difficult at the church we were attending at the time due to the fact that he had just graduated from college, and I did not know anyone that was post-grad. I signed him up for the fall summit college retreat in black mountain. I tried to expose him to the gospel as much as possible, hoping it would bring him a sense of peace and joy. However, the entire time I was doing all of these steps to lead him in the right direction, I had to remind myself that my boyfriend’s salvation was not up to me, but was up to God. I also did not want to suffocate him with religion. I wanted him to want to learn more about Jesus for himself, not for me.
The period of time between my boyfriend learning about the Gospel, and accepting Jesus into his heart was stressful and nerve-wracking for several reasons.
- The Gospel demands an answer once it has been heard. It is not something that can be ignored. Once learning of its truth a person either accepts or rejects the free gift of eternal life with Jesus. I was so afraid he would reject the gospel.
- I did not want to make my boyfriend feel like he wasn’t good enough. I love my boyfriend more than I can describe, and want to spend the rest of my life with him. He is the sweetest man with sugar, spice, and everything nice. He was before he accepted Jesus. It took careful explanation to properly express that I did not want to change him, but desired for him to benefit from life in Christ.
- It did not happen overnight. Waiting for him to learn and understand the Gospel was difficult. I grew up in church, and have been walking with the Lord from a very early age. The information my boyfriend was learning for the first time was information I had understood for years, and it took patience to avoid badgering him with the word.
- People told me that I should not be dating a non-believer, because of the verse “2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Many people interpret this verse, as directing followers of Christ to not marry or have a relationship with non-believers. I am personally not sure of the meaning. It was written as a part of instructions given to followers to not take part in pagan worship while in the city of Corinth. None the less, this verse fuels the argument against dating non-believers.
During this period of learning, I felt like I was being tested. Every day, I would get on Instagram and Facebook and see pictures of engagements. It would leave me wondering if that was going to happen for me and my love. It made me feel impatient. I had to learn how to embrace the unknown, which is not an easy task for someone that likes to have control over most situations. (ME)
Even though many people told me it was not my place, I did everything I could to teach my boyfriend about the true meaning of being a follower of Christ. I prayed all the time. I studied the word for advice. I sought counsel from people at my church. I asked my parents their opinions. My parents both agreed that not dating someone you love because they have never heard of Jesus and had the chance to follow Christ was in-fact un-christlike. They compared it to a situation my mother and I experienced while at a religious mother-daughter retreat in middle school. A few leaders of the “modest fashion focus group” were trying to teach us how to dress to honor God. The two women stated that it was not Christ-like and was sinful to wear a shirt with profanity on the front or back. My mother and my BFF’s mother both told the ladies that they did not agree with their statement of profanity on a shirt being un-christlike or sinful, since that may be the only shirt a person could get from the goodwill or the only shirt they have to wear, and that a shirt does not reflect who those people are on the inside.
I struggled trusting God, with the soul of the man I love. I doubted God. I thought to myself several times that I do not deserve to be shown grace over dating a non-believer, so I’m gonna pray, but it probably won’t work. I questioned God. I asked him several times why he would put this amazing man that I love so much in my life if we are not supposed to be together. I struggled with the thought of ” well I only have one life I might as well live it like I want to” in the desire to stop stressing about the religious differences between my love and me.
In the end, God was very gracious and loving to me. He saved my boyfriend by bringing him into his kingdom. God strengthened my relationship with him through my boyfriend. I was very blessed in this difficult situation. It is a struggle that I do not wish fellow believers to endure. Dating a non-believer is risky business because not everyone will accept Christ. My boyfriend is a very kind, accepting, and supportive man. He was willing to learn about Jesus out of his love for me, which melts my heart 20 ways from Sunday. He was supportive of my beliefs even though I was not a huge fan of his lack of belief.
Throughout this period I learned several things about myself, and my walk with Christ. The most important thing I learned is to listen to and trust in God, he will lead your heart in the right direction.