My friend is dating an unbeliever. Should I speak up?

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My friend is dating an unbeliever. Should I speak up?

Feb 27, 2012 |John Thomas
Question

I have a friend who has been dating a non-Christian. She is a Christian, but she does not often go to church. I pray for her boyfriend, but I think the Bible is clear that she should not be dating him.

She has dated another guy before who was not a Christian, but this scares me now more than ever because: a) I said something about her first boyfriend who wasn't a Christian, and she wasn't concerned, and b) She is in youth leadership at my church.

I care so much for the youth in my church, and I do not want the youth thinking that [her relationship] is OK. I also, of course, don't want her to be yoked with an unbeliever. I most of all do not want her relationship with Christ to suffer.

I don't know what to do. The Bible says that we should resolve our issues by going to the person first then bringing others into it if she refuses to listen, but is this even my issue? Or is this something I should be letting our new youth pastor know about so he might speak with her?

Boundless, would you please give me an idea? I don't know how to approach it. I've been praying for guidance and for God to provide an opportunity, but I need help.

Answer

You are right. She shouldn't be in a relationship with a non-believer, and you should be concerned. What to do about it is a decision that is easy on paper but tough to actually live out. Yes, you need to say something. Yes, it will cost you something. And, yes, whatever it costs, your friend and the kingdom are worth it.

There should be agreement in any church on what is expected of leadership regarding relationships with the opposite sex, especially given our culture’s current confusion on that issue. That is something about which the church must be bold and clear so as to not leave any question about the matter.

As believers, our lives are to be above reproach, holy, pursuing purity and, as leaders, a model for other believers. Again, given our culture’s present relationship climate, this especially applies to opposite-sex relationships and especially those of a dating/courting nature.

To me, this is a no-brainer for your church leadership. Your friend shouldn’t even argue about it. The fact that she wasn't concerned when you talked to her about her previous non-believing boyfriend is evidence of a more serious problem, and that is that she lacks the kind of spiritual maturity needed to be in a place of leadership in the church.

That doesn’t mean she’s not a Christian. It doesn’t mean she’s not growing. It simply means that she should not be leading.

The bigger question is why has your church allowed someone to lead who A) is not making good choices about basic relationship issues, and B) does not come to church often? I don’t get this. Given “B,” we shouldn’t be surprised about “A.” What would we expect?

This sounds like a church not serious about discipleship for its young leaders. And, if that is true, it would be a major problem.

So, here is what I advise. Your friend already knows where you stand on her relationship choices. You’ve already made that clear to her. I don’t think it’s necessary to revisit that with her. That’s your call. As I see it, her choices are not the primary issue. To me the issue is discipleship.

I think what you need to do is get clear from your church leadership, maybe your youth pastor, what are the expectations of young leaders and how can they help the young ones grow spiritually. Your church needs to first offer leadership discipleship then create proper expectations of those young leaders.

You can have that conversation without mentioning any names or advancing any agenda other than common sense. For that matter you can say that you need it (and you do). A simple suggestion might be to have a small discipleship/training group for aspiring leaders that meets 30 minutes or an hour before youth group. If a person can’t commit to that, he can’t lead. Simple.

If your youth pastor or other church leadership doesn’t seem to think discipleship for leaders is important, then you will always be fighting an uphill battle over other lesser issues. And you’ll need to decide whether you can live with that.

Meanwhile, don’t give up on your friend (I know you’re not considering that, but just to encourage you). Keep praying; keep loving; keep sharing truth with her. Who else is going to do that for her? You do your part and let the Holy Spirit do His. You will be amazed at how God can resolve what you thought was impossible as you partner with Him in intercession. He wants us to ask, so ask and keep asking.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2012 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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