I stumbled across this in my newsfeed recently: an article stating that Christians shouldn’t be dating non-Christians. Of course, I should know by now that I cannot expect logic or … sanity from anything related to Focus on the Family, whether it’s the Singapore chapter with their creepy sex ed syllabus, or the batshit crazy behemoth in the United States.
I’m not surprised at these extreme viewpoints, but I am tired of the religious right badgering people whose views differ from theirs, spewing what amounts to hate speech while claiming they are carrying out their God’s will/ pro-life/ pro-family/ whatever label helps them sleep at night and feel virtuous in their bigotry.
What exactly was so offensive about this post? This particular narrative, while moronic, was definitely not the most disgusting viewpoint to emerge from the Christian right. It was, however, a mind-bogglingly idiotic assertion about dating, which is particularly dangerous because it seems innocuous compared to the standard anti-LGBT spiel from organizations of this ilk. Let’s look at this delightfully sanity-free article, shall we?
Why Can’t Christians Date Non-Christians?
It’s a question that is regularly asked, but not always accurately answered. It confuses, perplexes, and even angers both Christians and non-Christians alike. It sounds elitist, holier-than-thou, and downright condescending. But trust me, it’s not meant to be.
Saying that all Christians shouldn’t date non-Christians isn’t condescending. It’s just inviolable proof that one shouldn’t breed.
Just kidding! (Not really.) Saying that Christians shouldn’t even consider dating non-Christians simply means that you are a terrible person with a very limited understanding of the world and human relationships. If you are this kind of person, it is entirely likely that I will shove you towards the zombies and run for it when the zombie apocalypse happens. Hey, it’s not personal, I’m just trying to survive while giving the rest of the human race a boost in average IQ.
While I do want non-Christians to understand this, I am much more concerned about us Christians. Because from the relationships and attitudes I am seeing around me (and sometimes even in myself), we sometimes forget the ‘why’ and get confused trying to do the what.
Whoa, hold your horses, lady! There is no “us” here, so please don’t drag sane, non-fundamentalist Christians into your warped worldview. The God that you believe in, who would send someone’s spouse to a nasty part of the the underworld for eternity, simply because they happen to be born into a different religion, has nothing to do with love. And that’s not the God that I’m acquainted with. Also, why do you need non-Christians to understand this? They don’t owe you any recognition or tacit acceptance of your beliefs. Get over yourself already.
So, what are the writer’s reasons for insisting that Christians shouldn’t date muggles/ mudbloods/ non-Christians? Prepare yourself, for the stupid is strong in this one.
Reason #1: You believe in completely, absolutely different things.
Really meh? The whole point of religion is supposed to be to make you a better, nicer, less murderous version of yourself. Yes, the doctrines are different, the gods you pray to may have different names and faces, but the end result is supposed to be the same: be a better, kinder, more loving version of yourself. It’s mind-bogglingly arrogant of the writer to assume that only Christianity would lead to optimal decisions on spending money, raising children, etc. Throw in a convenient quote from the Bible about being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” and some alarmist hyperbole about “a lifetime of split loyalties”, and there you go.
That’s the brilliant, searing insight we’ve come to expect from the religious right. Eh, simi lifetime of split loyalties? This is not a Korean drama, hor. Your faith is so weak that you will die if you have to go to church by yourself, issit? Is your spouse forcing you to practice their religion or making it difficult to practice yours? No? Then what is the problem, exactly? If some poor deluded soul who’s married to a non-Christian reads this ludicrous article, then proceeds to have doubts and marital conflict/ decides on a divorce as a result, know that it’s on the writer and her spectacularly obtuse perspective.
Reason #2: It is never “just dating”
Before I say anything else, let me present this little gem of opposites world wisdom from the writer:
“Casual dating is usually self-centered and self-serving: it’s fun, it makes me happy, who cares what happens in the future? If we know for sure we will never marry said person, then being in a relationship with them is unfair to them as well.”
How would you know you’re not going to marry someone for sure? Are they such a terrible fit, personality-wise? If so, why are you dating them in the first place? If they are a good fit, then how do you know you’re going to marry them for sure? Are you clairvoyant? Are you secretly the all-seeing eye of Sauron? Do you have an astoundingly accurate magic 8-ball? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Extending this kukubird logic, you should never go on a second date, unless you happen to have magical visions of walking down the aisle with them, five minutes into your first coffee/ serious date-date. Not casual hor, only serious dates. Bring wedding gown pictures and cake samples along on the first date, since you only date if it’s going to lead to marriage. You might as well save time and start planning for the wedding now, since unlike other mere mortals, you know “for sure.”
Actually, maybe just stop dating altogether. Just interview for life partners right from the beginning. Sit there with a clipboard, going over their relationship CV and religious beliefs (sure, they’re Christian, but are they your kind of Christian?). Just to make things interesting, include a comparison of how strongly you both feel about the LGBT community and everyone that doesn’t fit into the squalid little box that is your worldview. The couple that hates together stays together, amirite?
Reason #3: Something else just became more important than God
I’m going to ignore the quote from Corinthians about being “unequally yoked with unbelievers”, because any damn fool can quote scripture at you and twist it to serve their purpose, but most do not understand the meaning and context of what they’re quoting.
The writer’s logic is this: My faith will be in perilous danger if I have a non-Christian partner, because THAT IS TOTES THE WORST THING EVER, YOU GUYS. Non-Christians just don’t get me and my virtuous relationship with God, you know?
There’s a truly impressive leap of opposites world logic here, where (seriously) dating a non-Christian = my faith is in danger.
Honey child, if your faith is going to be endangered by the fact that your partner is a good, kind, person but happens to worship different gods, then your partner is not the problem.
You are the problem.
If your faith is so fragile that it can be shaken by this, then I say to you: your faith is weak. You are weak. Also, the world would probably have a higher overall IQ if you didn’t procreate, so if you REALLY love your neighbour, please don’t have kids. Thanks!
Reason #4: The joy of having a Christian partner
First, the writer paints a rosy picture of — you guessed it — the joys of dating a Christian partner. This magical, perfect Edward Cullen of the Christian right will always have your best interests at heart, because all Christian men are living saints, of course. Christian Edward Cullen will — like his vampire counterpart — sparkle like a glitterbomb (with holy light, see) and light your way in life with Scripture. It’s reasonable to assume that this delightful, perfect relationship also includes cozy chats over dinner about how all those pagan unbelievers are going to hell, especially those darned homosexuals. Such charmers, you fundies!
The madness goes to a whole new level with this delightful snippet:
“So it is not merely a matter of going to different places on a Sunday morning – it’s a matter of ending up in different places for eternity.”
So let me get this straight: let’s say I marry a guy who is a vet, saves animals every day, started a soup kitchen initiative when he was 14, and later in life, also launched a programme to help at-risk youth in his community stay out of gangs and stay in school. Let’s also say that this man is not Christian. Maybe he’s undecided, maybe he’s already got a religion he’s happy with and that works for him — and made him the awesome person that he is. Are you seriously telling me that Magical Soup Kitchen Husband is going to spend eternity frying in the bad side of afterlife town, simply because he wasn’t born a Christian? This guy, who has fed the hungry, stood up for kids who came from places of little privilege and also saves puppies for his day job is going to burn in hell? Do you realize how unbelievably stupid this assertion is?
With the repulsive earnestness of the truly self-righteous, the writer says this:
“Do you believe that obedience to God’s word sometimes involves things we don’t want to do, or don’t even understand? Because there is no sitting on the fence — if your answer is yes, then you cannot continue knowingly disobeying God. And, rather more worryingly, if your answer is no, then you might have to ask yourself what you truly believe in.”
Don’t you worry about that; I’m very sure of what I believe in. I was raised Catholic, and there was one really important commandment that was so huge, it changed everything. It was love; love for the people around you, whether they’re strangers, friends, tax collectors, or generally assholes, like the people who make life difficult for others based on ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Love is the little things. It’s bringing the 7-11 staff at your block some sugee cake on Christmas Day because they have to work on a public holiday and you feel awful that they have to work. It’s treating people’s life choices with respect although their worldview is different from yours, and you understand them as much as you understand quantum physics. Love is a cousin texting me a picture of my block with the caption “In case you’re feeling homesick” – although I hadn’t said I felt homesick.
Love is the little things.
Christians do not have a monopoly on being kind and loving. In fact, when it comes the the bigotry and myopic worldviews of the fundamental Christian right, it seems that they have failed, on a very basic level, to understand and practice the most important rule that the carpenter from Galilee tried to teach them. If they spent a lot less time focusing on how everyone else is morally inferior to them and more time making the world around them a less shitty place to live in, then maybe they would deserve the title of “Christian.”
As it stands, morons like this have made “Christian” a dirty word. There is very little of Christ in what these supposed Christians do and say: an irony that is, sadly, lost on them.