Question:

Hello,

I am so grateful for your advice. Maybe you can help me with something that I have been trying to figure out.

I have a friend I met in college last year and remained friends after I moved with my family about three hours away. We talked about God and life and what we expected in a relationship and became very close. A few months ago he visited my house and asked my parents for permission to date me. I respect and adore him, and my parents know and respect him. They say it is my choice to date him because I am an adult, but they made it very clear that they wouldn't agree with me dating him because he doesn't go to the same church as us. To avoid causing strive with my family and to show respect for their wishes, my friend got together with leaders in a church closest to where he lives to talk about what his convictions are and if he is a true Christian who is pursuing me with right intentions.

He has been meeting and studying the Bible and the leader he has met with finds one difference between our beliefs, which is a big belief for my family and church. My friend is having trouble understanding how baptism saves you. He believes God is the one who saves and baptism is necessary as a sign of obedience. As much as we have tried to explain scripturally, he is having a hard time wrapping his mind around it because he was always raised the other way.

Because of this the leaders and my family say I should stop talking to him for a little while until he is sure of what he believes. I told my friend I would check up on him once a week to see how his studies are going but the more I think about this situation the more I think it's not right. I've tried to find answers in the Bible, but I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for. I asked for advice from a couple women in the church and they gave me scripture (II Corinthians 6:14-17; I Corinthians 15:33) to explain why it would be wrong for me to date this man. These scriptures talk about unbelievers. My friend isn't an unbeliever because he believes in Jesus, God, and the Bible. He works to make Jesus Lord of his life and to live according to the Bible. He is only having problems with this one thing.

I looked more into the Bible and found scriptures on marriages between Christians and non-Christians (I Corinthians 7:12-16; I Peter 3:1-2) but again these scriptures are about unbelievers and also about marriage and I am not married to this man, so I don't know if it would apply to me. I have seen marriages and relationships between people of different doctrines and some have worked and some have not. I know if I go into this relationship I would have to worry about the opinions of my parents and try to honor them and if the relationship continues we would have to figure out how to raise the children.

But for now I'm wondering if this relationship is even an option for me as I strive to follow Christ? I'm trying to figure out the right thing to do. Maybe you can enlighten me. Would it be wrong for me to enter into a relationship with this man? If it is okay for me to enter a relationship, what would be the most respectful way to deal with the unacceptance of my family and church?

Thank you so much.


Answer:

While you are minimizing the difficulty, it still remains an issue. You already acknowledge that if you were to consider marrying this man that in what religion they would be raised would become a difficulty. You want to skip over this because you are not considering marriage at the moment. But the point is that if this is going to be a sticking point, why give the man false hopes? It isn't fair to date someone with no intentions of marrying that person.

It sounds like your friend is at least somewhat interested. The question is: Is baptism essential for salvation? His argument is no because God has done all the work. My response is: Is faith essential for salvation? Using his same line of reasoning, it cannot be because God has done all the work; therefore, there cannot be a need for men to believe. Even he would agree this is false. So if he agrees that God requires men to believe in order to be saved, why is it difficult to understand that there are other things that God also requires for salvation? See: What Saves a Person?

If I may, let me suggest that you send him the book Muscle and a Shovel by Michael J. Shank. It is probably the clearest book I know of written on this particular subject.