My boyfriend isn’t a Christian… is that a dealbreaker?

Ask Amanda: an advice column from someone who has been there

Hi Amanda,

I’m dating a guy that’s extremely sweet, talented, good-looking, fun and adventurous… but he’s not a Christ follower. He believes in “something out there,” but not God the way I serve Him. He’s definitely open to learning more and loves me enough to respect and admire my beliefs, but not hold them as his own. 

He’s also young — 2 years younger than me — and I just feel like maybe I’m asking too much of him. He’s committed to me, but do I honestly believe that this will end up being something long lasting? I don’t know. My question is, do you think this is something worth holding on to, or not? 

Andrea, 22, South Carolina 

Dear Andrea,

I’m happy to answer this question for you, but I think you already know the answer (which is maybe why you wrote to me in the first place). You’re not going to like what I’m about to say.

Part of me wants to apologize upfront because it’s going to feel harsh. I’m going to shoot it to you straight because someone needs to, and I’m OK with being that someone because you don’t know where I live.

Bottom line: it’s not worth it. Plain and simple.

You’ve described a bunch of really awesome things, and I don’t doubt that you’ve found a great guy. Lots of guys are great, but it doesn’t mean you should date them.

Every wonderful thing you listed about him is negated by the last part of your statement. That “but he’s not a Christ follower” is a really, really big but. The biggest of buts. I’m not even going to talk about the age difference you mentioned because this but is so big.

My very best advice to you is this: end it sooner than later, before your heart is too invested in someone you don’t want to build a future with.

Eek, I know, I know. I’m sorry.

Let’s jump ahead to the hypothetical picket fence future for a minute. You’ve decided to stick with this guy, you’re married and some kids are in the picture (I’m making a lot of assumptions based on tradition, but stay with me).

If you are a Christ-follower and he isn’t, what would your marriage look like? If your priorities are first Jesus, then your husband, but your husband’s first priority is you and only you, there’s an imbalance. You’ve created distance between the two of you.

What if you’re struggling through a really rough patch spiritually? Will he be able to lead you and encourage you to work through it and grow in your faith? Can he show you Biblical truth? Will he point you back to Jesus when you’ve turned the other way?

What about the logistical stuff like church? Sure, he might be fine with you going, but are you prepared to go to church alone every week? Will you serve alone? Will you take the kids to church alone, too? Will they wonder why they have to go every week when Daddy gets to stay home? What will you use as a tool to teach your kids right and wrong? What will unite you as parents? What will unite you as a couple?

I could keep going, but I think you probably get it.

If you follow Christ above all else, He is what matters most. Everything is total rubbish without that relationship.

I can assume that in a relationship with a man, you want not only to be loved, but also to be known and understood deeply. If your guy isn’t a follower of Christ, he will never know or understand you deeply, because he doesn’t know the One who knows and understands you deeper than you can even fathom. Can you see the disconnect? He won’t ever “get” who you are at the core of your being because he doesn’t know the Lord. And that will be lonely.

Life is really difficult. Relationships are really difficult. Marriage as a couple with the same set of values and the common bond of Christ is still difficult. Marriage between two people with differing core values is even harder.

Don’t put yourself through the heartache and loneliness that this relationship could bring. End it now, before you are deeply invested in someone who can’t be your partner in Christ.

Big buts and hard truths,


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Photo (Flickr CC) byWendy Nelson.