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Youth Messenger Online Edition


Letting Go and Letting God
Renata Chapman

One of the greatest challenges facing our youth today is the temptation to enter into a relationship with a person who does not share their faith. I know this both from personal experience and from hearing and seeing the experiences of other youth in the church. I would like to share my experience, along with lessons I have learned from dating an unbeliever, and how God blessed me when I surrendered and fully trusted Him to find the right person for me.

When I was beginning my freshman year of high school, I didn’t have very many friends and I was determined not to fall into the wrong crowd. Then one day, I met him! He was a very amiable young man, tall and handsome, and he seemed to be genuinely interested in me. He was the first guy that had ever taken a serious interest in me, which was part of the reason I was so intrigued. Being a very self-conscious person, I was flattered that someone would like me in that way. He asked me if I would go to the school dance with him, and I responded by telling him that I didn’t dance. He was surprised and wanted to know why I didn’t dance, which allowed me to explain a little about my faith.

Although he was also a Christian, I knew I couldn’t be his girlfriend, knowing that he didn’t share the same beliefs as me. I was surprised that someone liked me! At church, it felt like nobody thought of me as being relationship material, and it felt good knowing that someone liked me in that way. These feelings eventually led me to start a relationship with him which continued on and off through most of my high school years.

My parents slowly found out about this relationship, and for obvious reasons, they were concerned. I knew that their concerns were valid. Although I felt frustrated with them at the time, I knew the relationship was wrong. But I had trouble letting go of him and ending the relationship. When I graduated from high school and started college, I thought it would be easy to get out of the relationship, but he was very persistent and persuasive, and I was not able to end it. I spent the next three years of my college life with him. It was hard and stressful. At times I felt like I would never be happy again. I wanted him to attend our church and accept my beliefs, but when he would visit, I would feel uncomfortable and wished he had not come.

He promised that he would join my church but he said, “If I compromise and join, you’ll have to compromise on your beliefs as well.” “Compromise!” I hated that word! To me, it meant that I would have to give up something, but deep down inside I didn’t believe my faith could be compromised. I would try to go through our doctrines and discuss the similarities between my beliefs and his beliefs, but we would never come to any agreement. Sometimes we would pray together, but I didn’t feel that it made any difference.

I couldn’t wait to get out the door every day so I could get away from my family. Slowly I started to realize that I was losing all my church friends and my relationship with my family became very contentious. I tried to reason with myself, “What’s the big deal? Plenty of people get married to unbelievers and their families work out. Maybe I can go to church and he can just stay home, but I would have to make sure our kids come to church!” I struggled! I cried a lot! I was under a lot of pressure. I used to beg him to come to church on Sabbath, to study with my pastor. But he always questioned so much and never wanted to study with my pastor. He only wanted to study with me so he could confuse me and make me compromise.

I finally realized that I needed to end this relationship. It just wasn’t going to work, but I didn’t have the strength to do it by myself. I had tried so many times before to end it, but I couldn’t. Little did I know that a whole army of people was praying for me and pleading with God to make me willing to break up and to give me the strength to do it. Finally, after many prayers and the realization that I didn’t need a boyfriend to be happy, I surrendered my will to God and broke up with my boyfriend. He left and I never saw him again. It was one of the hardest things I have done, but I could never have done it without the prayers and support from my family and friends. God gave me such peace and assurance about my decision and I did not feel alone or unhappy because I was convicted that I made the right decision. I also learned many lessons about why I should never have begun a relationship with an unbeliever and how God always had a special plan for my life if only I let Him be in charge. Let me share with you some of the lessons I learned:

Why shouldn’t we date an unbeliever?

God does not want His sons and daughters marrying an unconverted or unbelieving person even if they have a pretty face, the sweetest disposition, and the most generous heart. The apostle Paul warns us, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 15).

The problem with pursuing a relationship with an unbeliever and eventually marrying them is that you and he/she serve two different masters. You serve the Lord Jesus Christ and he/she serves the world. You are walking in the path of God’s commandments, preparing for heaven; he/she is following the path of pleasure, prosperity, and self-pleasing. These paths are opposite from each other and this is why you’ll have conflict. The Bible says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).This is why many faithful youth give up their principles and compromise their beliefs to avoid conflict with that person.

God’s principles of success in a courtship and marriage relationship depend on unity, not compromise. “The happiness and prosperity of the marriage relation depends upon the unity of the parties; but between the believer and the unbeliever there is a radical difference of tastes, inclinations, and purposes. . . . However pure and correct one’s principles may be, the influence of an unbelieving companion will tend to lead away from God” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 174). [Emphasis added.]

Dating and marrying an unbeliever has eternal consequences! “To connect with an unbeliever is to place yourself on Satan’s ground. You grieve the Spirit of God and forfeit His protection. Can you afford to have such terrible odds against you in fighting the battle for everlasting life?” (Messages to Young People, p. 441). [Emphasis added.]

One day my partner will join my church

I often hear the argument, “One day my partner will join my church.” I also used to tell myself this all the time. Others will say, “He or she is already a Christian. We share many similar beliefs and he/she agrees to come with me to church on Sabbath. How can you classify a person like that as an unbeliever?” The reality is that if “the companion of your choice were in all other respects worthy. . . . yet he has not accepted the truth for this time; he is an unbeliever, and you are forbidden of heaven to unite yourself with him. You cannot, without peril to your soul, disregard this divine injunction” (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 364). [Emphasis added.]

As we see from God’s word, the person you’re dating may be a sincere Christian, yet if he/she does not accept the present truth which you believe, you would be unequally yoked if you were to marry him or her. Heaven forbids you to unite with that person. Those are strong words! Sometimes we can be so infatuated and blinded by love that we cannot see anything wrong with joining ourselves together with an unbeliever, but the Bible says, “Charm [favour] is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman [or man] that feareth the Lord she [or he] shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

God has a special plan for YOUR life!

While dating an unbeliever, I often felt that there was no young man in the church for me, which was why I clung to my relationship for so long. It was not until I broke up with him that God opened my eyes and made me understand that I did not need to get married to be happy. What I needed was to get to know Jesus first. He had other plans for my life, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11) [NRSV].

After my breakup, I began to immerse myself in reading God’s Word. It was then that my friendship with Christ grew. I finally realized that happiness is only found through a fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ. As I began to trust God more each day, I committed my daily plans into His hands. If it meant that I would never find a young man in the church to marry, I wasn’t worried because God had big plans for my life.

It was during this time of complete surrender to Christ that I made friends with a young man from our church. We began a beautiful friendship with Christ at the center. After getting to know each other for some time, we realized that God had brought us together for a reason and that by getting married we could be an even bigger blessing to others. Today, I am blessed to be married with the love of my life, a godly young man, who shares the same beliefs, goals, and love for God as I do. It is truly a beautiful thing when two God-fearing people get married. “Marriage affects the afterlife both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will make no plans that God cannot approve.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 359.

I will be forever grateful that I surrendered my relationship with an unbeliever to God and allowed Him to choose a godly mate for me. If you are currently struggling in a relationship with an unbeliever or contemplating one, make God first, ask Him to be your Counselor, and you will find that this brings true happiness! Even if you think you will never find someone in the church, as I thought, let Christ be the One who brings fulfillment and companionship into your life! “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).