What if my boyfriend isn’t as eager as I am to attend church activities?
He has been a Christian for many years, and he prays and reads the Bible. But he isn’t as interested as I am in church activities and Bible conferences. I’m not sure if this is a good enough reason for me to call things off. I’ve always felt that I needed time to assess how keen he is about God, and so far I feel that he’s a Christian, but he’s not as hungry as I am to grow.
I don’t know if I am expecting too much from him, expecting him to be just like me in the way he practices his faith, or if my hope that I only marry a man who is as hungry for God as I am, is a reasonable one. I desire very much to get married someday, and he’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a Christian husband.
He supports my involvement in the church and with Christian activities because he cares about me, but it’s quite clear that he doesn’t attend these activities because he wants to per se; rather, he does it to support me and because he knows it’s important to me.
I don’t know if these circumstances make it such that I would be compromising on my spiritual growth to be married. I think since we got together, my love for God has encouraged him, and he has always seen my love for God as a good thing. But I feel we’re not on the same page.
Ideally, I would love to be with someone who is as involved and as hungry as I am to grow as a Christian, but could his desire for God deepen as a result of my influence? Or is it perhaps unreasonable to expect that I only be with a man who is as hungry as I am to grow as a Christian, given that there are so many other imperfections that we have to accept in the partners we ultimately marry?
I don’t know how to asses this relationship given my situation and would be most grateful for your advice.
Thank you for writing to ask this difficult question; your future hinges on the answers. If you were not in his life would he go to church? Would he join a church? Is he convinced that the church is a necessary part of a faithful Christian life? Is he willing to pray and ask God to give him a love for the church? These are essential questions. How he responds should give you what you need to know to make a wise decision.
The measure of a man’s faith is the fruit in his life. Scripture says we are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). The Bible tells us what that fruit looks like (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s not enough to say someone is loving, especially if you define loving the way the world does. We have to look to Scripture to see what love is (1 Corinthians 13), and even more, to what love does. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). First John 2:4-6 says, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
How did Christ walk? He laid His life down for His sheep — His people, the church. He died for all the members of the body that make up His bride. Life in the body is a consistent theme in the New Testament because it is in the church that we are built up and grow to maturity (1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 4). If someone is in Christ but doesn’t desire life in the body, or feels hostile toward it, he should pray and ask God to fill him (or her) with love for His church.
The most important thing you should be striving for in your own life is to make Jesus first place, giving Him priority in all things — that’s what it means for Christ to be preeminent (Colossians 1:15-18). When Christ is preeminent in someone’s life, the things that matter to Jesus, matter to him. And the church mattered to Christ. He took on flesh, became a man and was crucified on a cross to rescue His bride, the church. A person who is half-hearted about the church is half-hearted about Christ. We can’t claim to love Christ and be lackadaisical about His bride, the church. It’s not possible. If we feel like we can take or leave the church, we must realize we risk losing Christ.
Christ died for the church. That’s how much He loves her. And His sacrificial love is the standard for all Christian husbands (Ephesians 5:25-33). It follows that a man claiming to be a Christian who is half-hearted (or less) in his devotion to the church — Christ’s bride — will be unwilling and unable to follow Christ’s example as a husband. A man’s commitment to the church is among the most important tests, if not the most important test, of his ability to love a woman well.
Getting close to your goal in this desire for a Christian husband isn’t good enough. Nor is it biblical. You ask if your expectation and hope for a man hungry for God is reasonable. Yes, it is. But even more than that, it’s essential. Without a mutual love of Christ, and an intentional and obedient pursuit of Him, you will not be equally yoked.
You should end the relationship for the very reasons you’ve stated: You are committed to following Christ and obeying Him, whatever the cost, including loving the church He died for, and he is not. If you tell him that you fear God more than man and that you desire Christ above all else — that He occupies first place in your life — he may be offended and possibly insult you for something he cannot understand, or maybe by the grace of God, he will be shaken out of his complacency and come to a saving knowledge of God through Christ Jesus. Whatever his response, you can trust that God will work even a difficult outcome to your good, if you love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Your love for God is displayed in your obedience to His commands.
Either way, if you are as serious about your faith as you say you are (and I do believe you are), then you will realize there are no other options. You cannot marry this man, or any man, who though he calls himself a Christian, does not walk humbly before his Lord, obeying Him no matter the cost, taking up His cross and following Him, and practicing the sacrificial love Christ displayed for His bride, displaying genuine love for the church in His own search for a wife.
I pray God will give you the courage to obey Him.
Copyright 2013 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.