How should I break up with my non-Christian boyfriend?
I have decided to break up with my non-Christian boyfriend. Should I tell him that my main reason for doing so is his lack of faith and thereby risk turning him off Christianity forever? Or should I withhold this information so that he won’t associate my faith with the pain of being dumped?
I care a lot about him, and I definitely want him to find God on his own someday. I’m just afraid that I will do or say something to jeopardize his journey. Is there a way to do this kindly and honestly without damaging his view of God?
Thank you for writing to share your decision to break up with your unbelieving boyfriend in a way that won’t turn him off to God. I’m so thankful you’re willing to do what’s painful in order to obey God’s Word (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14). This is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. You’re right that how you do this is important for how he perceives God. I don’t think you should tell him your main reason for ending your romantic relationship is his lack of faith. Instead, I think you should tell him it’s yours.
Let me explain. Disobedience is an act of faithlessness. Beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, every act of disobedience is rooted in doubting God’s goodness. I say this not to shame you, but in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will use my words to prompt a faith-filled response. Like Paul wrote to the Corinthians, I do not wish to grieve you, but if your grief leads to godly repentance, I will rejoice.
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).
It’s not your boyfriend’s fault that this is ending so much as it’s your responsibility that it began. As the believer in the relationship, you are the one who knows what God requires. If you’re trusting in Christ’s atoning work on the cross, you have the Spirit of Christ within you to empower you to obey. Rather than telling him it’s over because of a faith he doesn’t have — and risk a false conversion or, as you fear, a reason for him to be bitter about Christianity — explain that you were wrong to date him once you knew he didn’t believe the Gospel. Tell him you’re sorry for misleading him about your faith.
What do I mean? Well, faith is a conviction that leads to obedience. Hebrews 11:1 says, “… faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” What things? Things like God’s character, His perfect holiness, His righteous wrath against sin, His extravagant offer of redemption, His mercy and grace for all who repent and believe, His good design for marriage between a man and a woman in the faith, and His commands to be holy and obey Him out of love for Him. All this should animate your decisions about whom to date and how.
By dating him, you have given him the impression either that you don’t really believe the faith you profess or that Christianity is elastic — that God is subject to our will, not the other way around.
Repent to God for the way your disobedience has misled him about who God is. Then tell your boyfriend, in kindness, that you’re sorry. Who knows but that God may use your confession to point him to Christ. God may use your faithfulness to move him closer to saving faith. But regardless of your boyfriend’s response and the outcome of your conversation, you must fear God not man.
In the midst of this breakup, the best hope for him drawing near to God won’t be avoiding the topic of faith, but talking about it truthfully. Let him see you loving God more than you love yourself and more than you love him. Let him see your obedience. This is the most loving thing you can do (John 14:15).
I pray God will give you courage.
Copyright 2015 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.