I was thinking recently about a number of platonic relationships that I had with women in the past, and I wanted to talk about something I learned in the school of soft knocks trying to be a Christian knight. (Note: this applies 100% in the opposite direction, though, and maybe even 200%, for women who are trying to choose men to relate to).
Basically, when I think about opposite-sex relationships, I think that it is very important to me that I be liked for the right reason. I do not want to be liked because I make her feel happy apart from God. I do not want to be liked because I help her to succeed apart from knowing God. I want to be liked for one reason and one reason only. I want to be liked because I am recognized as important for helping her to know God and to love God.
It’s not my job to help a woman to be happy apart from God or to help her to succeed apart from God in this world, based on worldly criteria. I am not interested in building sand castles in the here and now, even if society approves of those sand castles here and now. It’s not my job to help her to prove to herself (and to others) that she is a “good person” apart from Christ. No one can be good enough apart from Christ.
It’s not my job to help people to feel good about rejecting God. I should not expend my time or resources to comfort someone who is rejecting God. It’s disrespectful to God for that person to invent a new moral standard to follow for their own ends (self-esteem and respect from others), apart from a relationship with God. I can’t help a person who doesn’t want God in the way they really need to be helped.
What you find with some people is that they are very interested in glamorous causes like environmentalism and animal rights, but very dismissive about things like avoiding premarital sex and not killing unborn children. They want to feel good about themselves and to receive the esteem of others, but not in their personal lives. Think of how Bill Clinton committed adultery and how he insisted that his generosity to the poor (paid for by other people’s taxes!) made him a good person in spite of his adultery.
There are a lot of people in the world who do put God at the center and who need support. And it’s my job to make sure that when I choose a woman to work on, that I choose one of these women who gets her idea of “the good life” from her relationship with God through Christ. I want to be able to help someone who really cares about God. And if a person doesn’t want to look into these things, I can’t make them, even if I care about them.
What I have found is that there are women out there who are interested in learning more about God and in conforming their actions to what they find out about him. They read the Bible, they read theology, they read apologetics, and they are interested in assessing the evidence to confirm what they read about. They are not trying to be happy or popular, they are trying to know God and to be related to him. And those are the women that I should support.
For those who are feeling broken from having chosen a non-Christian person to invest in, I have some advice. Always remember that the person who rejected you has also rejected Jesus. You’re not better than Jesus. If a person doesn’t want to acknowledge Jesus and to follow him, then they sure aren’t going to acknowledge you when you try to get them to follow him. God has other ways to help that person if he wants to reach out to them. You’re not the only person he can send. If you’ve failed, move on to someone who welcomes you.
I always try to choose the person who has the most interest in knowing God in Christ and growing her closer to God. I know it’s hard to leave a person who you really love and have invested time in, but if they steadfastly refuse to let you even talk about God then my recommendation is that you move on to someone who will. Don’t leave God out, because relationships aren’t about just you.
I recommend reading this article by Dr. Michael Murray about the hiddenness of God. God gives people free will to either respond to him or to reject him. And we need to do the same – let people who don’t want us reject us, too. Let them go. Don’t think about them any more. God will go after that person some other way when that person is ready. In the meantime, choose someone to work on who wants God now, so you can have a real impact now.