Have you noticed that sometimes you (or me) or people around you get a little desperate sometimes when it comes to finding a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend? So what if he’s divorced three times and living with his ex-mother-in-law? Or you don’t care if she has mountains of credit card debt and addiction to prescription painkillers.
You’re willing to look past those “flaws” in order to be in a relationship. What if you never meet anyone else? Maybe you’ll even be the person to turn his or her life around! (Although that never actually happens anywhere else but romantic comedies and novels.)
Last week the “Ask Pastor John” podcast with guest answer-guy Pastor Matt Chandler set my wheels to turning on this subject. (You can listen below.) Even though Christians know it’s not a good idea to date people without the same beliefs, we do it, anyway. Or we think because someone shows up at church on Sunday, they wholeheartedly endorse the same morals and values as we do.
A lot of the time we’re so certain that this is our very last chance for love that we abandon a lot of our “must haves” just to have someone. Suddenly the faith that we’ve lived (or tried to, anyway) is not so important. No matter that we’ve been to church every Sunday of our lives, gone on missions trips and retreats, and taught Sunday school. A guy/girl shows some interest and all that goes out the window.
It would be the same if I were to marry a veterinarian when I’m allergic to anything with fur. Of course, he’s going to want to have pets not to mention that he’d have to scrub down in a clean room every night before coming home so I wouldn’t break out in a rash. That wouldn’t be a very fulfilling life for either of us.
A moral Vegan wouldn’t likely be happy married to a butcher. A fortune 500 CEO wouldn’t be happy with a guy who lives in his parents’ basement. These are pretty major differences that would cause friction later on. So, why are we OK with marginalizing our love for Jesus to “just friends” status?
I think, first of all, we just don’t give ourselves enough credit. You absolutely deserve someone who is willing to be the best they can be for you. And that should include shared values and beliefs already in place. Trying to “convert” or persuade someone after the fact doesn’t count. Finding love shouldn’t be that hard. In the initial days you should just “click.”
Second, I think we’re being too impulsive or even lazy. A decent person is totally worth waiting for. Why in the world would you settle for someone who happens to be convenient? That’s not really fair to you or to them. I think that being a little more self-aware could pay off in the long run: If there are more problems than you have things in common, you can absolutely find someone else who would be a much better match.
Third, sometimes we think (incorrectly) that we can change people. Well, that never happens. People don’t change unless they want to and they don’t usually want to change if they’ve already won the prize (i.e. you.) This isn’t Beauty and the Beast (or any other fairy tale). This is real life and your “goody-two-shoes religious practice” is more likely to annoy the heck out of him/her after awhile than inspire a conversion. It’s much better to start off with someone already on the same wavelength.
Last, I think it’s a control thing. Maybe even a fear of unknown. We just want to choose who we end up with and the first person who doesn’t run screaming for the door will do. For those of us who love Jesus that also means we aren’t really willing to trust Him with our (love) lives. And that could really be the heart of the matter.
Do you have a habit of trying to make unsuitable partners “fit” into your life?