Friday, March 4, 2011

Dear Joselyn

I recently heard a girl named Joselyn call a radio DJ on a Christian radio station and ask the DJ his opinion on her relationship with an unsaved man.  Joselyn is 24 years old and a Christian.  She said the man was an atheist, but that he went to church with her, as did his two sons from a previous marriage.  The radio DJ did a decent job answering her question (he cautioned her not to marry a man who wasn’t saved), but the conversation struck me very deeply.

If Joselyn had asked me that particular question, I would have taken her out to coffee and brought my Bible with me.  It would have been a lengthy conversation, but I would have told her very firmly that it was wrong to date and especially marry an unsaved man. 

First of all, and most importantly for any true Christian, the Bible very clearly instructs us as believers not to yoke ourselves to unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14).  The context of this passage is especially poignant, as Paul is talking about the Temple of the Living God, and how it should not be defiled.  As we know, our bodies are the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19), and part of marriage is the sharing of our body with another.  From the Bible, this issue seems “cut and dry.”  Why is it, then, that so many people struggle with this?

Secondly, I would tell Joselyn that she needs to reconsider her views of marriage.  She obviously has stars in her eyes about the gentleman in question.  Aside from the whole aspect of him not believing in God, he’s been married before and is already a father.  Joselyn, marriage is hard enough without all of those things added to the mix!  Even the healthiest of marriages has its ups and downs, and there are so few truly healthy marriages in the world!  In order for a marriage to be truly good, both spouses must be committed to working hard to achieve it.  There are no “happily ever afters” in this world.  That’s not to say that marriage isn’t good, and it certainly isn’t to say that marriages can’t be happy!  But there will always be those “down” days (or months, or years)!

I would tell Joselyn about a book I finished reading last week called “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas.  In that book, Thomas expounds on the theory that marriage is not designed for our happiness primarily, but to draw us closer to God.  (And therefore, hopefully, increased happiness will be a by product of that process.)  It’s not a very romantic notion in the wont of current cultural beliefs, but it is romantic when you view your relationship with the Lord as the Great Romance of your life.  Even in your marriage, you can be drawn closer to the Lord.  What a concept!  And Joselyn should know that if she is married to an atheist, she would either be pulling away from her husband to grow closer to God, or pulling away from God to grow closer to her husband, because she and her husband would not be walking in the same direction. 

Thirdly, I would address the whole “but I love him!” part of the equation.  It is so very easy to address the issues of the mind, but equally difficult to address the issues of the heart.  I would kindly assure her that I understand the feelings she has for the man in question.  I would validate them with a heart full of compassion, and I hope my words would adequately express my understanding of the depth of her feelings.  I would open my Bible again to Jeremiah 17:9 and show her that God knows better than we do--- we cannot trust our emotions because our hearts will lead us astray.  Those “but I love him” feelings will fade regardless of her choice to stay with him or leave. 

I would hope that Joselyn would consider everything I had to say.  I would listen to her and try to hear her heart.  I would send her off with the rest of her latte (unless it was finished during our conversation) to think about what we’d discussed.  And if she got engaged, I would remind her of our conversation and tell her that marriage is forever.  I would tell her that once she married him that he would be God’s will for her.  I would exhort her that divorce was not an option when she became unhappy and thought to herself, “this was a mistake.”  And I would go to her wedding when she chose to marry the guy anyway, because I would want her to know that even though I disagreed with her decision, I still loved and accepted her.  And when things got rough, I wouldn’t say “I told you so,” but encourage her with 1 Peter 3:1-2. 

That is what I would tell Joselyn if I could talk to her. 

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