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Dating A Christian?


MultifariousBirdLady
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I don’t know if this admittedly lengthy account will help, but the pain of dating and then breaking up a Christian is what led me to this site.

 

I had already been an ex-Christian for years before I met her. She was a young pastor who was the head of her own small liberal Christian church, which she started three years prior to our meeting. We each knew where we stood on religion and were leery of falling for each other because of this, but despite that, our relationship quickly blossomed into friendship and then something more.

 

I respected her wishes not to have intercourse before marriage, but ultimately, she didn’t have as much respect for my boundaries. She once described me as a “challenge”, and after eight months of letting her light shine, she issued me a tearful ultimatum. She made it clear that our relationship would end by that September if I didn’t attend her church by then. When I pointed out that she was engaging in emotional blackmail, she waved my protest aside, reminding me that we’d already engaged in non-penetrative sex, which went against her code. I reminded her that we were two mutually consenting adults in a loving relationship, but she stuck to her script and continued to debase us both as if she were some kind of hooker for Christ and I was a john refusing to pay. Indeed, by the time she finished, we both had watery eyes for different reasons.

 

So I told her I’d think about it, and over the next few weeks, I considered our situation. We’d been going out for eight months, I’d grown fond of her company, and we’d spoken of marriage and children. Throughout our courtship, I tried to focus on our similarities instead of our ideological differences, but she clearly wanted me in her church nonetheless. So I told myself that I was attending to support her, not her religion. Then, I marshaled my forces for moral support.

 

My family agreed to attend with me immediately, and my parents were especially amused. They’re liberal Christians just as my girlfriend was, but they knew and accepted me as an unapologetic heathen who hadn’t attended church regularly in over a decade. So they came along for the show, where we discovered that her church really was struggling. There were only about twenty-five of us in that big church, and half that number was my visiting family. My girlfriend delivered a moving sermon about how Jesus helped her cope with her panic attacks, and afterwards, we all went back to my parents’ house for dinner. It was a beautiful Sunday that would’ve made a nice ending to this story.

 

Unfortunately, I kept attending her services without my family. It was an odd thing to constantly be standing up, sitting down, and bowing one’s head in praise of a being I believed to be imaginary. I couldn’t even mouth the words to the hymns as I did when I was a teenager because the congregation was small enough to hear who was singing and who wasn’t. I felt self-conscious and ridiculous. To make matters worse, this church had communion every Sunday, and every Sunday, I would pass the communion plate and goblet to the next person. This earned me a glare from one of the women there, but I kept passing all the same. There were limits to my hypocrisy.

 

I told my girlfriend this as we drove home one Sunday. “I feel like I’m being disrespectful,” I said. “Everyone else is there because they believe -or want to believe- in Jesus. I’m there because I believe in us, and that’s not a good enough reason.” She dismissed this with the canned condescension I’d grown used to from some religious folk. She compared me to a sick person, and her church to a hospital. She suggested that I keep attending her church, and if it didn’t work out for me after a while I could try something else. I understood that to mean that either I would have an epiphany about God soon or our relationship was over.

 

That’s when I knew it was already over. I wasn’t her boyfriend anymore; I was her case study. This was a young pastor who knew about my painful experiences with Christianity, and yet her own validation seemed more important to her. For my part, I was insensitive in my caustic remarks about God and his self-righteous followers. I believe this is what destroyed us. I couldn’t respect her beliefs, and she couldn’t accept me for who I am.

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That’s when I knew it was already over. I wasn’t her boyfriend anymore; I was her case study. This was a young pastor who knew about my painful experiences with Christianity, and yet her own validation seemed more important to her. For my part, I was insensitive in my caustic remarks about God and his self-righteous followers. I believe this is what destroyed us. I couldn’t respect her beliefs, and she couldn’t accept me for who I am.

Welcome, HM.

 

I was impressed with how honest and cogent your analysis of your situation was. I'm sorry things didn't work out for you two, but from what you wrote, it sure looks like, ultimately, it couldn't have worked. Best that it only lasted less than a year, rather than much longer.

 

Looking forward to reading more of your well-written and well thought-out posts.

Loren

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That’s when I knew it was already over. I wasn’t her boyfriend anymore; I was her case study. This was a young pastor who knew about my painful experiences with Christianity, and yet her own validation seemed more important to her. For my part, I was insensitive in my caustic remarks about God and his self-righteous followers. I believe this is what destroyed us. I couldn’t respect her beliefs, and she couldn’t accept me for who I am.

 

Hi Heathen Monkey,

 

Welcome to the site. I'm sorry to hear your girlfriend couldn't accept you as you were and that religion tore your relationship apart. Thanks for being willing to write about your experience here.

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Welcome, HM.

 

I was impressed with how honest and cogent your analysis of your situation was. I'm sorry things didn't work out for you two, but from what you wrote, it sure looks like, ultimately, it couldn't have worked. Best that it only lasted less than a year, rather than much longer.

 

Looking forward to reading more of your well-written and well thought-out posts.

Loren

 

Thanks for the warm welcome, Loren.

 

I was baptized when I was ten, but I can’t honestly call myself a Christian now. Being one means accepting Christ as one’s savior, and I doubt that Jesus even existed at this point. I also find it bizarre that otherwise brilliant people don’t read biblical stories the same way they read Aesop’s fables. They both contain pearls of wisdom and insights into human nature, but just as most people wouldn’t feel guilty for not believing in talking foxes that eat grapes, they shouldn’t feel bad about not believing in talking snakes either.

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Hi Heathen Monkey,

 

Welcome to the site. I'm sorry to hear your girlfriend couldn't accept you as you were and that religion tore your relationship apart. Thanks for being willing to write about your experience here.

 

You're welcome, Bird Lady. I hope it helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anybody dated a Christian after leaving the faith? How did it go?

 

I am seeing somebody who is a monotheist but unsure about many other points of doctrine, despite having a background in conservative Christianity. If we talk about religion (which I enjoy!), every once in a while he'll say something that I find myself wanting to react defensively or aggressively to. These tend to be phrases or arguments that were used in a fundamentalist Christian group I was involved with way back when. I believe that he does not intend to cause this reaction in me and he was understanding when I mentioned that my previous Christian experience was very painful.

 

It seems like these incidents could be opportunities for me to work on de-sensitizing some of my triggers. My fear is that at some point he may express an idea that I would feel compelled to attack, and I would not want to do that to him.

 

Hi, I don't post much here, but my initial reponse is to not date him, especially if you think you may want to marry and/or have children. My husband went fundy after we married, and it is a constant struggle. Right now, he is at church with both of our children, where they are learning that the bible is true, that women have their "place", that they are sinners (they are 2 and 4 years old), how to tell their friends about Jesus, how to get saved, and all the wonderful stories like how god killed everyone and everything on the face of the earth except one family and 2 of each kind.

 

The arguments can be a little fun, but ultimately he will think you are going to hell and might bring the kids with you. You will get prayed for and looked down upon by his group. He will be pitied for having to deal with a non-xian.

 

I am just speaking from my experience. I would just say trust your gut and think about the future. If I were ever to date again I would stay very far away from anyone who had the potential to get the xian virus. I also live in the bible belt where there are churches on every corner, the school board wants creation science in the school, there are abortion protesters and people holding signs saying repent or die on any given day. They sucked him in.

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The arguments can be a little fun, but ultimately he will think you are going to hell and might bring the kids with you. You will get prayed for and looked down upon by his group. He will be pitied for having to deal with a non-xian.

 

Hi HappyB4,

I'm sorry to hear your experience has turned out badly. Kids are not an issue for me as I will never agree to have them. Your other points are certainly valid, though it turns out that as we talked it was clear that he's not nearly as fundie as he once was.

 

As of a few days ago we are not dating at this point due to other issues, actually, so this is once again a moot point for me. But it was very instructive to me to go through the process of considering how I might react and what it might be like if the relationship did continue. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work through this a bit more, actually.

 

I am just speaking from my experience. I would just say trust your gut and think about the future. If I were ever to date again I would stay very far away from anyone who had the potential to get the xian virus.

 

See, I'm not sure it's ever really possible to say that someone has no potential to get the xtian virus. I've heard too many stories of people flip-flopping under just the right conditions or pressures. But certainly there are people who are halfway there already, or leaning in that direction.

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Maybe you'll have kids and then you'll fight over what to teach the kids,

 

Well, I made a surgical decision more than 10 years ago to ensure that kids would not be an issue. ;)

 

'Course, that alone could be a no-go for some, but it won't have anything to do with religion.

 

or maybe one of you will eventually stop pretending you're not bothered by the difference and realize that you're never going to change the other person, so it's just not going to work.

 

Possibly. But I think if the relationship continues, time will tell if this will occur or not. There's really no rush. I do not expect to change him, BTW. I do want more info on where he stands on certain issues to better gauge whether we'd ultimately be compatible (I've been asking, a bit at a time). But if he is somehow thinking in the back of his mind that he'll change me -- and mind you I have no indication he's thinking this -- then I agree that's trouble.

 

Maybe a major life event or simply older age shifts a half assed religious person into overdrive and they become really religious (gf's dad is currently doing something like that).

 

This is a fear for me, yes, but there's no way to know what will happen in the future. But again, it's entirely possible to be with someone non-religious who suddenly finds one religion or another, too, so only dating non-religious people doesn't necessarily protect you from that. Any of us could potentially convert to a compelling religion or worldview at some point. But I don't think there's any reason to end a relationship because of things I can't predict that might happen in the future.

 

I apologize, I hadn't read this comment when I posted earlier (and still haven't read all responses). I should be working, so I am trying to hurry. So, that's good there's no kids to worry about. And, how right you are about not being safe just dating the non-religious. My husband was not religious when we met and dated. After we had a child, he decided he needed to get back to xianity. He was raised a baptist. He aplogizes for not being who he was when we married, but will not apologize for who he is now. So, maybe look at his past and his family and friends.

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I apologize, I hadn't read this comment when I posted earlier (and still haven't read all responses). I should be working, so I am trying to hurry.

 

No problem! Been there, done that, I am very familiar with the rush.

 

Also, I am religious/spiritual myself, so I have no problem dating most people who have religious beliefs of one kind or another, or lack of belief. I do have trouble with fundamentalisms.

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Um, aren't True Christians not supposed to 'yoke' themselves with unbelievers in the first place?

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Um, aren't True Christians not supposed to 'yoke' themselves with unbelievers in the first place?

 

That depends on how the church in question interprets the business of being "unequally yoked." Some equate that with marriage, others with working or living with non-Christians for a long period of time.

 

There is actually a verse somewhere which says something along the lines that a believer might be the cause of his or her unbelieving spouse getting to heaven. In the context of the verse it was not clear that the believer had actually converted the unbeliever, either. It seems pretty obscure compared to other verses about marriage, and not often used this way (gee, I wonder why). If I find it, I'll post it.*

 

So I think this is one topic that's fairly subject to interpretation.

 

* Ahh, here it is: 1 Cor. 7:12-16.

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That's the reasoning my fundie friend uses for her marraige to a nonchristian.

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